For the love of il Campo

Today I get to tell you about one of my favorite food experiences in Rome: the market at Campo dei Fiori!  Named for the field of flowers that was originally here, this piazza has an open air market from Monday to Saturday.  Going to the market from Via Arenula (the way we always go coming from studio), you go down this little street lined with shops and arrive at a piazza.  Bypassing the people hawking sunglasses and iPhone cases, you are greeted with the sight of dozens of tents shading tables full of fresh produce and Italian delicacies.

One of the things that surprised me the most about Rome, and probably all over Italy, is how good the fruit is, especially that at the market (fondly called just “Campo” by many of the students).  It is all super fresh and grown regionally, or at least on the same continent.  Among the best things you can get at the market, and in Italy in general really, are blood oranges.  They are absolutely phenomenal!  These little oranges look completely normal, but when you peel them, they are bright red inside, thus their name in Italian: rosso arancia.  I’ve never had a bad one, but the less delicious ones still taste like a really good American orange.  And along the lines of blood oranges, everyone should try spremuta at least once; it’s freshly squeezed orange juice, made with blood oranges when they are in season (which has been our entire time over here so far).



My favorite part of the market, though, is the people.  Walking through to get our fresh fruit and veggies with the “real” locals, many of us have found favorite food stands and shopkeepers who we are getting to know.  About halfway down the left side when coming from Arenula, my best friend at the market, Emanuele, sells dried fruits and nuts, most of which are rare in America, such as kumquats and little sweet tomatoes that I eat like candy.  Nearly all of the nuts are regionally grown and around a third of the fruit is from Italy.  Every time I go there, we talk exclusively in Italian, even though he speaks English rather well, forcing me to learn the language, which is fantastic and is usually really fun.  Working with Emanuele is Johnny (pretty sure that’s not his real name…) who offers candy and cookies, which are also super yummy (if you get the chance to go there, grab some biscotti al limone – I’m munching on them as I write this).



Next to Emanuele and Johnny is a family run produce stand.  At this small cluster of tables, Lilo and Daniele have some of the freshest fruit in the market, especially their many varieties of pears.  Talking to Daniele (in Italian, of course), who has worked here for 18 years, I learned that they get all of their fruits and vegetables every morning at the mercato generale, a giant farmers market where farmers from the surrounding areas bring the freshest and ripest of their crops to sell in the city.

Another really great thing about the market (I’m not sure if I could tell you a bad thing) is the prices.  Only slightly higher than the grocery stores in Rome and in America, the food at Campo dei Fiori is very reasonably priced.  Unlike American farmers’ markets, the one’s I’ve been to anyway, the prices are about double a normal grocery store and taste marginally better.  In Rome, compared to what is available at the supermercato, the produce at the market is infinitely fresher and tastier.

Now that I’ve waxed on about my love for the market, I’m getting hungry for oranges.  Vado al Campo, Ciao!

Walking around Rome, one of the first things I noticed is the lack of a clearly defined order.  I wander the crooked streets and alleys for hours, getting wonderfully lost in the process.  Within Rome proper, aside from the very major streets, nothing is perfectly straight or aligned, there are few right angles, and almost nothing is parallel.  While this is frustrating at first and confusing to our minds with our American need for order, it quickly becomes one of the most charming qualities of the city.  And there happens to be a reason to the madness!  The streets actually are ordered, we just can’t see it.  Most of the streets in Rome are based upon ancient roads, medieval lanes, and Renaissance boulevards.  All of these street systems connected various important points of the city in their respective time periods.  With all three major systems (along with some less important ones) overlapping, not always directly, we are left with a modern jumble of what roads the city and the people decided was important.  Confusing the issue further, modern roads have been built connecting important contemporary sites, resulting in a streetscape that is an indecipherable mess.

Crowding the sides of these twisted avenues are the glorious, and sometimes slightly less glorious, buildings of Rome.  Similar to the streets of the city, a few buildings are traditionally ordered with a regular bay structure and vertical alignment.  For the most part though, as with the streets, most of the buildings are made up of an organic jumble, built up through time according to the needs of the current population.  The shops and restaurants are topped with offices, which, in turn, support apartments above; and below all of it are parking garages, pharmacies, or grocery stores.  These mixed structures also happen to have an underlying order; many have been converted from previous uses, such as palazzi or ministries.  As the buildings were converted or built, they respond to their original form and to their neighbors, building up and out and over their surroundings to create a new urban space.

While most of the city is comprised of this organic system of additions and adaptations, some parts of the city display a distinct sense of order and regularity.  Upon entering the EUR, an orderly twentieth-century quarter on the edge of Rome, the first thing that struck me was the straight lines.  All of the streets are parallel and perpendicular; I was able to look down one road and see all the way to the end, where it ends with a building that is also made up of straight lines.  Another element that caught me was the open space.  Walking through the neighborhood, I saw expanses of wide roads, parking lots (versus garages or street parking), and just simple areas of grass.  It’s strange, but the EUR almost reminds me of the suburbs of America… kind of a scary thought that something so familiar can exist in such a foreign place as Italy.

Along with the EUR, another place that has an overriding sense of alignment is the area around the Mausoleum of Augustus and the Ara Pacis.  Bordered on one side by the river and another side by a pair of churches, the remaining two sides are fronted by office buildings.  The interesting connection between the EUR and the Mausoleum is the cause for this similarity in regularity: both were designed by the Fascists for propaganda purposes.  The EUR was intended to be the location for the Esposizione Universale di Roma, which didn’t take place due to World War II.  Originally a completely open area, Mussolini chose this site because of its lack of history, which allowed him to “represent [the ‘new Italy’] through public buildings and modern zoning;” the “new Italy” being Fascist Italy[1] (Fuller 408).  Around the Mausoleum of Augustus, the connection to Fascism is slightly more understandable.  The mausoleum had been used for many things over the past millennium, including a “circus, hanging gardens, a bullring, and … one of Rome’s largest concert halls”[2] (Pilat 17).  Mussolini returned the tomb to a ruinous state, allowing people to see the imperial monument.  By doing this, moving the Ara Pacis to the site, and surrounding it with Fascist government buildings, he created a metaphorical connection between the great empire of ancient Rome and his prospective empire of Fascism[3] (Pilat 21).

[1] Fuller, Mia, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Fascist Plans for the Colonial City of Addis Ababa and the Colonizing Suburb of EUR ’42  p. 408

[2] Pilat, Stephanie. La Parola Al Piccone: Demonstrations of Fascism at the Imperial Fora and the Mausoleum of Augustus  p. 17

[3] Ibid. p. 21

Rome: A chance to shake the past

Building on a complex political history, Rome is once again at a crossroads.  In the recent national elections, no party has been able to win a clear majority, with little hope for the formation of a coalition.  Furthermore, the somewhat unprecedented retirement of Pope Benedict XVI ensures further uncertainty for an already embattled Catholic church.  These events reveal the complicated political climate in Rome, which reflects back to Roman times, and in some ways haunts contemporary Rome.

The cycle of Roman rule; first by the kings of Rome, then republican Rome, and finally imperial rome, is in many ways mirrored in modern Rome with the first (contemporary) king of Rome, Vittorio Emanuele II who ruled after the unification of Italy in 1870;  Mussolini and the Fascists, who ruled with absolute power, evoke images of imperial Roman rule, which is an image the Fascists did not reject.  Following the disastrous end of fascism the Italian republic formed and remains today, although it is not clear currently who will actually lead the country following the recent elections.  Despite this tumulus past Italy finds itself in a unique position to progress into a new political era.


Waiting for the smoke signal in St. Peters square.

The Catholic church, as opposed to the political history of non Catholic Rome, has been somewhat flexible and survived countless conflicts since the rule of Constantine.  In a sense, it has become a constant in contemporary Rome as opposed to the shifting political factions that come and go.  The strength the Catholic church has projected during difficult times is beginning to ebb as a Catholic church, facing external and internal pressure to reform along more progressive lines.  Confronting somewhat of an Identity crisis, and fading popularity in developed nations, the choice for a successor was anything but clear.  Options ranged from charismatic leaders who may boost membership, or staunch conservatives who will resist the pressures to bend on certain issues.  One thing is certain, the new pope will have to repair the tarnished image of the Vatican following financial and sex scandals that have rocked the church, and have only drawn more scrutiny with the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.


Political adds.

The Italian government faces an equally uncertain future as elections have highlighted deep divisions among Italians deciding on the direction the country should take during possibly the greatest economic crisis of my generation.  Austerity measures imposed mostly by Germany and the EU intended to curb the growing national debt have left Italians resentful towards these sanctions.  They have clearly voted against Mario Monti who, imposed many of these measures when he took over for Silvio Berlusconi.  Silvio Berlusconi has inconceivably won roughly 29.1 percent of the vote, amid several ongoing corruption and sex trials, and a recently ordered one year jail term.  He continues to hold the country hostage with his strong-man tactics and corrupt tendencies, siphoning enough votes away from other parties to prevent an effective coalition from being formed between Mario Monti and Pier Luigi Bersani’s democratic party.  Further complicating the results is a brand new party lead by Beppe Grillo (an Italian comedian) who has tapped into Italy’s frustration with established parties to corner 25.5 percent of the vote.  Pledging to root out corruption and increase transparency and efficiency in the Italian government, the five star movement refuses to ally with either established party leaving the Italian lawmakers with no way to pass meaningful legislation.  Whether there will be an agreement or a new set of elections, there is no one to pull Italy out of the current recession, and it is unclear if Italy will move towards the EU or pull back and become more politically isolated.

Perhaps with a new Pope elected Italians will regain a sense of optimism and propel their government to take meaningful action.  A coalition between the five star movement and the democratic party could lead to a government with a measured approach to EU austerity measures, while still moving towards closer ties with Brussels.  The five star movement could then act as a watchdog to ensure the interest of the average Italian is represented.  Either way, Italy is poised to dump the historical baggage and write a new political chapter for itself.

– Klaas Reimann-Philipp

Political Landscapes: Backdrop For The Rise Of Facism

To gain a better understanding of Italian Fascism in Rome it is beneficial to have had a crash course in the multifaceted definition of the term “political landscape.” Two articles help to draw parallels between this difficult term and the black eye of a country once in a crisis of identity. Author Adam T. Smith lays the groundwork for examination with his introduction section of The Political Landscape: Constellations of Authority in Early Complex Polities while Dr. Pilat’s “La Parola al Piccone” helps to deconstruct the concepts further by building upon that groundwork with an investigation of Mussolinis plan for a new type of Rome starting in the 1920’s.1  Together the writings work in tandem to cast light onto a seemingly dark and dubious time of this ancient country.

The introduction section in Smith’s The Political Landscape examines numerous applications for the term “political landscape.”  He starts with an example of political authority by noting a set of images reconstructed in the 1920’s to show the events that took place at the death pit of Queen Puabi of Ur in the mid-third millennium B.C., where the lives of both animals and humans were sacrificed as to usher their ruler into her afterlife. Additionally Smith uses Andy Warhol’s Electric Chair series to further demonstrate examples of societies realization of the power political bodies wield, noting the similarities between both subjects but highlighting the difference in authoritative omnipresence of Warhol’s modernist version.  The girth of Smith’s writing continue to break down the meaning of landscapes in political life, eventually reducing the term down to three absolutes which are further discussed later in the book.

Dr. Pilat’s La Parola al Piccone is a helpful guide through the time of Mussolini and his radicals and their oxymoronic rise to power. Using Smith as an occasional source, Dr. Pilat constructs a timeline for the regime that points out and contrasts the differences between political agenda and public perception. Giving tangible example of Smith’s writings, she calls attention to the way the Fascists seemingly used Rome and the destruction of its history as a political stage to perform, promoting their ideas worldwide with strategic imagery that manipulated and subdued the destruction of a city and its history, promoting instead ideals of civil progression and international clout. Transitioning from one urban design concept to another, by 1932 major demolition work was completed at the Imperial Fora (the site on many ancient Roman ruins), thus solidifying and advertising the Fascists’ assessment of their past and making their historical preferences evident.

It is easy to deem the authorities who have historically abused the shaping of landscapes as more or less fallen, but perhaps as Americans our bliss comes shrouded in ignorance. The political landscape can be manipulated in order to extract a specific response from us, the people, without us even being aware. Smith puts it well when he gives this example – “Indeed, in a pedestrian sense we might consider how each time a red light halts our progress, we are interpolated as subjects of a mechanized authority codified by the instrumentality of the political landscape.”

I can not help but compare the Fascists to the Communists in postwar east Berlin. While in Germany last summer I learned that during the postwar years Communists“renovated” existing German concentration camps from WWII to tailor a different story. Sites that once bore the scares of wounds felt worldwide were now sites as propaganda, projecting a distorted view of history onto those unfortunate enough to remain in the East. These are just two historic examples of regimes turning their once solid nation into a malleable tool for the benefit of a minority. The manipulation of our surroundings, both physically and politically, can transform land, people, history, and resources into a stage for ulterior motives. As seen in both instances and as both Smith’s and Pilat’s writing spotlight, authorities can influence our physical landscape to portray anything they want. The result in the forging a powerful instrument whose implementation as a tool or a weapon is left to be determined by those who wield it.

1. Adam T. Smith, “Introduction”  The Political Landscape: Constellations of Authority in Early Complex Polities (University of California Press, 2007). Stephanie Pilat  “La Parola al Piccone: Demonstrations of Fascism at the Imperial Fora and the Mausoleum of Augustus: in The Political Landscapes of Capitals, edited by Jessica Christie and Jelena Bogdanović (University of Colorado Press, forthcoming).

Imperial Urbanism in the EUR

On a recent day trip to the EUR, our class got a first-hand glimpse at the true meaning of a political landscape. Rows of staunch and sterile white facades lined huge open streets that were a stark contrast to the narrow, twisting, and somehow vividly living streets of the Jewish Ghetto. On an overcast day, the massive, orthogonal buildings blended seamlessly together, monumentalita’ di travertino, blank flat facades broken by dark rectangular windows in soldier coursing.

At the time of the construction of the EUR in the late 1930s, the ambitious Fascist regime was just beginning its imperialistic campaign in Africa, and was struggling to justify the bloodshed abroad through ferocious propagandizing at home. The relatively recently unified Italy was also attempting to foster nationalism within its people and structure an identity by which it could be recognized among the European power players of the day. According to Mia Fuller, author of Wherever You Go, There You Are: Fascist Plans for the Colonial City of Addis Ababa and the Colonizing Suburb of EUR ’42, the EUR was a political platform meant to accomplish both ends. It was designed as a World’s Fair, an Olimpiadi delle Civilta’, and was intended to be the “consolidation of a visible and tangible Italian national persona to compare with that of other European nations”1. Emphasis on a long and glorious Roman imperial past is evidenced in true Fascist building form, a sort of sterilized monumentality based in the ancient Roman arch and column/entabulature composition. Names of streets and piazzas are drawn from the list of great explorers like Cristoforo Colombo, and sections of the city are named for the colonies of the Italian empire. Even the plan of the EUR is laid out in a strict grid emphasizing the organization, structure, and order of the Roman empire (past and present). Moreover, the siting was chosen with impeccable precision; the heart of Rome proper is characterized by a very long history of building atop the ruins of its own foundations, and yet the EUR was sited in a mostly empty field–a blank, ahistorical slate from which the “representation of the new Italy”2 could rise unimpeded by existing context. Then, through a process of selective rehistorization through carefully chosen museums and cultural connections, the blank slate was filled with the past greatness, present endeavors, and hopes for future domination: a candid political snapshot of the Fascist mindset of the day.

Mia Fuller describes the EUR as an urban design exemplifying not only imperial power and dominance, but also an exposition of Italian culture and ideology. “Being visible, for the Italian government, was equated with an act of power”3, and self-representation was a main theme behind the EUR. What rose from that field was an ideological masterpiece, but the “Italian identity” the planners sought to portray is more explicitly Fascist than generically Italian. The roads are too wide and laid out in a scale too great for pedestrian comfort, and one cannot help but feel small and insignificant beneath those stark overbearing forms. The EUR is a perfect rendition of power politics in stone. It is a showcase of Italian competitiveness in the field of modern civilization. Its particular combination of visual aesthetics and monumentality in architecture and urban planning serves as a political expression of dominance and power reinforcing the idea of a “new Italy” with an identity as a conquering and powerful nation in the eyes of all beholders.

1 Mia Fuller: Wherever You Go, There You Are, pp408
2 Mia Fuller: Wherever You Go, There You Are, pp408
3 Mia Fuller: Wherever You Go, There You Are, pp405

Talent is just around the corner…

The longer I spend in Rome the more I realize that music is a huge part of the culture. It has become an integral part of life. In the mornings there’s usually someone playing an accordion on the tram to school, walking around town there are all types of street performers dancing or playing some instrument, and hanging out in Trastevere at night there are bars and cafes full of live performances.

One such performance would be the second appearance of Mis(S)take at the Lettere Caffè that a few friends and I had the enjoyment of seeing. Though Nathan and I have only been there a few times the servers recognized us, and the bassist from the band greets Nathan like a friend. They are happy to have their American audience back and we get a shout out during their performance thanking both Italians and Americans for supporting them. Alessia belts out some of my favorite songs, Florence + the Machine Dog Days Are Over and Massive Attack Teardrops, while maintaining her classy 1940’s style and also adds in a few new ones making for a longer set. Nathan compliments her for being more confident and we appreciate the show because these are the pieces of awesome memories we’ll take back home.

However, talent can be found in other places such as a small street in Trastevere full of lights and people as they wonder into restaurants, shops, and stores unique to this side of the river. Nathan and a few friends and I head off in search of live music “music dal vivo” and though we wander for some time come to no results. Nathan detailed this search this in our last post. Along the way though we walk by two guys with a unique style; one jamming on the guitar has a southwest style yet speaks fast Italian and the other has a style all his own. He is playing a make shift upright bass and has quite the whistling talent. Their jazz music causes us to stop and watch and I felt like I could have lingered there all evening for their performance. They play because they love music and that’s something to be envious of.

I hope you enjoy these video clips and I feel inspired to look for more local talent here and once we are back in good ol’ Norman.

Il Prade Di Tutti I Musei

The moment I first really realized I was in Rome was when I saw the Capitoline Hill and remembered the paper I wrote about it for my art history class. It was amazing seeing Michelangelo’s staircase in contrast to the mountainous climb up to Santa Maria in Aracoeli. His famous piazza was before my eyes and the walk up was as gentle as imagined. Moving up the hill, the sight of the Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius pulled me towards the center of the Piazza. The placement of the statue is powerful because the scale and the gesture of Marcus makes you feel welcome but also cautious.

Finding the entrance to the Museum was a bit of an issue since it is tucked under an arcade only noticeable thanks to signage. The circulation of the museum leads you first into a courtyard, where the ego of Constantine remains. The Head of Constantine the Greater stands in the corner towering over as you stand next to it. Some remaining pieces of his body are arranged next to his head so one can get a sense of scale and understand how large this statue would have been when it was intact. Next, you are led up a staircase through an underground tunnel to Palazzo Nuovo on the other side of the piazza. I soon realize that the actual museum is much bigger than it appears outside.

As I started to wander my way around the Palazzo Nuovo I stumbled across one of my favorite pieces, The Dying Gaul. This roman replica of a Greek original depicts a man in defeat. This life size statue shows a man fallen to the ground with his hands tirelessly keeping his upper body up and his head looking straight to the ground hopelessly. I love how this piece interacts with the viewer. It draws so much sympathy for the wounded man and creates a humanistic understanding of the statue.

Crossing back to the Palazzo del Conservatori the core of the museum is found. It leads you into a series of smaller rooms full of statues and paintings. Soon I find myself with the infamous symbol of Rome the Capitoline Wolf “She Wolf”. The Bronze statue is in the center on the room on top of a pedestal. It depicts a wolf nurturing Romulus and Remus. The Statue was great to see because of the history and connection it has to the city; it depicts the city’s founding myth.

Finally the belly of the beast appears as I near the newly renovated central space of the museum. This new space sharply contrasts the old renaissance buildings with a contemporary glass and steel structure. At the focal point of this space is the original Equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius. The statue is not centered in the space as it was outside in its original location, in the piazza. It is set on a narrow horizontal plain that connects back to the wall and seems to create a path on which the horse is galloping on. The platforms cuts through the circulation around the statue unlike the one outside that allows the viewer to go completely around it. It was cool to see the contrasting setting in which the museum chose to display this legendary piece. The experience of the two Marcus Aurelius statues differ because the approach to the copy is the first sight climbing up to the piazza. It is presented as a view of an almighty roman conqueror and a work of propaganda. Approaching the original statue inside the museum one first sees the statue entering from the side and mainly above it, as an “art work.” Both approaches to the statue are powerful. The oversize scale of Marcus Aurelius and the horse are overwhelming. The horse seems to be in motion as it is sculpted with its feet in different positions. One of the most amazing things about this is how the horse and man are balanced as the horse stands on three legs. His front right leg is lifted and curled, as if he is marching forward. Marcus Aurelius sits atop the horse and appears to be just as big as the horse showing his dominance. He is shown extending his right hand is a gentle manner like he has just arrived to “HELP” citizens in need. I love this statue because it is such a great example of Roman art. The Roman Ruler shown in a humanistic manner, gentle, kind, wise, on top a subtle symbolism of dominance, control, and power. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention it was covered in gold, typical of such political propaganda.

An overall amazing Museum, great artwork, and an absolute must in Rome. ImageImage

Campo Imperatore

Lift up to Campo Imperatore
Chris and I decided to take a little 2 day, 1 night vacation in the mountains of L’Aquila (little adventure before buckling down and forcing myself to studio slave for midterms). The trip out there is quite the sightseeing adventure. We took the metro to the bus station, then hopped on an hour and a half bus ride that took us through the lovely little mountain cities to L’Aquila. Once we arrived in L’Aquila we took a city bus about 50 minutes through the snow-capped mountains to Base Funivia, where the views were absolutely breath-taking.
Little Mountain Towns
After stepping off the bus we walked over to the counter to buy our tickets for the only way up to the hotel, a lift. This was my first time ever riding a lift, so I was pretty excited. It was a little scary at first, since the fog only allowed us to see so far, and the cables seemed to disappear in the mist. When we made it to the top we had to take a tunnel that lead to the Hotel Imperatore, because the snow had blocked the doors leading to the outdoor entry.
Campo Imperatore
Checking into Hotel Campo Imperatore, was easy enough, Chris had stayed here before and the man behind the counter recognized him immediately. He set us up with a nice room on the third floor (this is what we would call the fourth floor, but they count the first as zero in Italy). Unfortunately the fog was pretty thick so the only view we got was of the ski lift just off to the left of the building. But regardless, they were very nice accommodations.

Dinner was at 7:30, and from our long journey out to the secluded hotel we were starving. They started with hors d’ouvres and cocktails in a small sitting room furnished by IKEA (I swear everything new in Italy is furnished by IKEA). At about 7:45 the dining room doors opened and the buffet style dinner was open for business. Of course we were the first ones in, loading our plates with a delicious smorgasbord of food. Vino was included with the meal, which was a plus. While scarfing down our food, the gentleman that checked us in that day came over to see how we were enjoying the meal.

“How is the food?”

“molto bene!” (me attempting to use my Italian speaking skills)

“Dove sei?”

“Oklahoma (blank stare)…Texas”

“ah! Si, si”


“No, I’m studying architecture in Roma.”

“ah! Architetto!”


Excited, he began to tell us the interesting history of Hotel Campo Imperatore. The hotel was developed by the Fascist party, in an attempt to bring more tourism into L’Aquila. It was constructed between 1931 and 1934, and easily identifiable as Fascist Architecture. One of the interesting things he pointed out in the dining hall was the “semi-circle” shape of the room. He explained that Mussolini intentionally design the shape to represent the letter “D” for “Duce”. So the columns and the beams do not exactly line up because the shape is not a complete semi-circle. The beautiful hardwood flooring mimicked this design in the dining hall, which is all original from the opening of the hotel.
What really made the hotel famous was when from August 28 to September 12, 1943, it served as a prison for Benito Mussolini. He was taken here after already being held captive on the island of Ponza e Maddalena. The Italian soldiers thought that Gran Sasso seemed like a better place to hold the prisoner since it is pretty inaccessible. But, unfortunately they were wrong, and on September 12, 1943 about a hundred German paratroopers landed on the plain in front of the hotel and freed Mussolini. This later became known as Operation Oak.
Mussolini getting rescued
After the little history lesson, we managed to lift our very full bellies out of the seat and walked into the hotel lobby and began looking at the various photos of the hotel throughout the years. Another gentleman that worked at the hotel came over and started chatting with us. Turns out he used to practice architecture years ago and had heard that I was studying to become an architect. He told us about his various work in L’Aquila and his 18 years of practice. After our conversation Chris and I started toward the stairwell to head up to the room, when the barista stopped us.

“No, no you stay here! It is the Feste delle Donne (Festival of Women). Tonight, we dance.”

Well when you put it that way, of course, why not. Everyone slowly gathered into a small hall to partake in the night’s festivities. Chris and I sat down on a small leather couch, enjoying the music, when out of nowhere the chef comes bouncing into the room dressed up as a woman (see photo below for details) and began dancing. Everyone laughed hysterically and then joined in on the fun. Chris was able to get some pretty hilarious video footage of our dear friend, the chef (not appropriate for posting).
chef dancing
The next day the weather was still a little too foggy for skiing so we decided to head back home to Roma. But even without being able to ski, the trip was worth every penny. I think we might have to take another trip out there before we leave Italy. It was certainly quite a memorable experience.

The EUR as a Political Landscape

I went for a ride through the EUR about a month ago and thought it was a pretty cool place. The monumentality of the buildings and the streetscape definitely gave the entire area a very important feeling and based on the reasons why it was built in the first place it is easy to understand where that feeling comes from. The whitewashed walls, monolithic structures, grand thoroughfare of a road, and the ever important obelisk denoting some sort of Roman conquest or pillage give an aura that is felt in similar other places throughout Rome, such as the Palatine Hill and the area surrounding the Mausoleum of Augustus.

It was not until after reading Adam T. Smith’s The Political Landscape: Constellations of Authority in Early Complex Polities that I learned how to coin these particular locations. Smith explains how such “political landscapes” are set up by rulers to display importance and power. He examines how rulers at various points in history have used their power to shape the landscape of the territories they control. This can occur in a multitude of different ways and for different reasons. Why do rulers define the landscapes in particular ways? What is their reasoning? Some wish to impose their ideas, methodologies and agendas onto the population while other less power hungry rulers merely wish to leave behind some sort of lasting legacy after they have passed on. Both reasons share many of the same fundamental characteristics but the reasons for each landscape are drastically different.  Smith uses the examples of Queen Puabi and Andy Warhol’s Electric Chair series. A staging of the Queen’s death pit reflects what she left behind when she died and how she prepared herself for where she was “going.”  Andy Warhol portrayed a more modern political landscape during the time in which he created his silkscreens of an electric chair.[i] Examples of these “political landscapes” can be clearly seen in Rome from what the ancient Romans built up to what Mussolini constructed during the 1930’s and 40’s.

This brings me back to the EUR; nothing stands out clearer in my mind as a more perfect example of a “political landscape” than the EUR, from its design and the size of the buildings that were constructed to the procession down Via Cristoforo Colombo. The entire reason the EUR was constructed in the first place tells us it is a “political landscape.” In order to celebrate twenty years of Fascism an entirely new section of the city was constructed to display the wealth, progress and power that the Fascist party was able to develop even if the results are a mere illusion of what was actually happening. It’s all about propaganda my friends, it is the ultimate way to control the minds of people as skilled, intelligent or fortunate as you and through it you can make people believe whatever you want. The common theme of Fascist architecture is carried out through the entire area and the whole time I was riding through it I never forgot where I was. The white-washed walls and monumental buildings create a scale that reeks of propaganda and government control. The atmosphere is much different from Central Rome. Instead of the closeness and condensed nature of buildings, everything in the EUR is spread apart and large so that everything can be viewed at once and all together. “Political landscapes” can be found all over the world built by various leaders to display their wealth and power; the ancient Romans did it and Mussolini continued it, probably in an attempt to restore the lost tradition and history which he claimed was his goal.

[i] The Political Landscape: Constellations of Authority in Early Complex Polities, Adam T. Smith

Moda Roma: Naples + Fashion Interview with Tyler Yamamoto

Naples Shopping!

Ana Hernandez

Napoli (Naples) is not what I pictured instead, it is what I would call “ La Citta di un bel disastro” a city made of a beautiful disaster!  The people that make up the city are very happy and nice they don’t stare at you like they do in Rome. The architecture is amazing especially the small streets that are made by apartment blocks climbing up the hills. They city is beautiful in its own way not like Rome, and much less Firenze (speaking in terms of trash). Although they might not have trash figured out quite yet but one thing they do have down is …SHOPPING.  I went to Napoli this past weekend where I found a fantastic galleria, tons of shops, and multiple street vendors. I was unexpectedly amazed by how many saldi I saw. I thought the saldi were over?” well not in Napoli! Sales signs were screaming from of the windows, and shops all over, especially in the historical district.

The fashion that one finds in Napoli is very similar to that of Firenze with fewer puffy coats and more leather. There is more of a young vibe with a higher sense of what fashion should be like. You see more unique styles vs. what you see in Rome; which is a fluffy down feather comforters in the shape of what is supposed to be a coat with jeans or leggings and boots. I also noticed more of a punk rock style for young teenagers. Moreover, Napoli is filled with different styles of fashion. So if you are in Italy and need some cheap shopping and a variety of places to go from markets, to shops and galleries NAPOLI is your destination! Below are a couple of pictures of places and streets to shop in while in Napoli! ENJOY!

Galleria Umberto

Via de Corso Guiseppe Garibaldi

More streets to shop!

    • Via Toledo
    • Via Chiaia
    • Via dei Mille
    • Via Duomo

Student Interview: Tyler Yamamoto

Interviewer: Leah Schroeder

Do you think it is more important to look your best or be comfortable?

Tyler: Both are important but I do like to look nice. I like a dressy casual style and for me quality and comfort go hand in hand.

Here in Rome, which styles or trends have caught your eye?

Tyler:I see a lot of older men with long over coats and caps.

What designers or labels do you admire?

Tyler:Prada make a nice suit. I could never afford one but I like the look.

Where do you look for fashion advice?

Tyler:I make up my own opinions about style. I like slim fitting clothing , pieces that are nice and tailored.

What colors do you gravitate towards?

Tyler:I used to wear mostly black but now I tend to wear a lot of blues, reds and purples. I stay away from yellows and greens.

What are your favorite wardrobe items?

Tyler:I’m a big watch person. I’ve been into watches for a long time and I think everyone should own a nice watch. I also like socks in a nice pattern and sunglasses. A nice accessory compliments an outfit.

What would be your top tier pick for a watch?

Tyler:I like a skeleton face watch from Maurice Lacroix. I also like watches from Blancpain and Ulysse Nardin.

Have you adapted your wardrobe since you have been here in Rome?

Tyler:I tend to dress a little nicer, I’ve been wearing button down shirts and trousers mostly. People dress so casual in the U.S. It’s nice to have the opportunity to dress well.