While standing in the Borghese Gallery, one cannot help but be awestruck at all the Bernini sculptures and each sculpture’s unique beauty. Even after studying Bernini for an entire semester or even living in a palace and town almost completely designed by him, one really does not really understand all the talent that Bernini had to offer. It is not until standing in front of “Ratto di Proserpina” where each detail of the marble really shows Bernini’s great skill and attention to detail that I really appreciated Bernini.
The “Ratto di Proserpina” or Rape of Proserpina was such a unique sculpture due to Bernini’s attention to detail and use of soft marble. Using soft marble, Bernini was able to capture Pluto leaving impressions upon Proserpina’s skin. Interestingly enough while the English translation of the sculpture’s name means Rape of Proserpina, it actually means kidnapping. While Proserpina did not go with Pluto willingly she did have to reside there for six months out of the year for the rest of her life and rule as Queen of the Underworld. This myth is how ancient Greeks explained the changing of the seasons because during the winter she is in the Underworld and her mother mourns her loss by creating fall and winter. She then celebrates her return in spring with blossoms and the renewal of life.
After “Ratto di Proserpina” the Borghese Gallery contains many other of Bernini’s most famous sculptures including his “David” and “Apollo e Dafne” which are equally impressive. While my personal favorite sculpture was “Ratto di Proserpina”, from the details in David’s slingshot to his armpit hair, one cannot deny the great attention to detail that Bernini put into each sculpture. While I did not get the emotion from “Apollo e Dafne” that I did from “Ratto di Proserpina”, the former is in many ways more impressive. Only made from one piece of marble, there is still much open space within the sculpture and the leaves that were once Dafne’s fingers and hands are so tiny, one can only imagine the hours Bernini spent on each piece of this masterpiece.
Bernini was an amazing artist, sculptor, and architect and studying him in detail this week gave me more of an appreciation for him than I had before.
A picture of one of Bernini’s greatest works, “Ratto di Proserpina”
It is surreal to think that we only have a little over four weeks left here in Ariccia. This place is home and these people are my family. When this journey began, I could have never foreseen how close all twenty of us would become and being able to consider the Chigi Palace as my home. With each passing week, the more I realize how much I cherish each of these ladies and the impact they and this place have had on my life so far.
This past week, most of us were with our biological families. This was a much needed break from classes and the nonstop fieldtrips that this program provides. However, I could not help but wonder what my “Chigi Family” was doing each and every day. It really opened my eyes to see how much I have been taking for granted being able to see and talk to the girls all day every day. We were able to keep in touch through our group text and send pictures of the activities we were doing. But, this was not the same as experiencing it together like we have every weekend travelling up to this point.
Through these last couple of weeks, I am going to soak up every second that I have left of living with all twenty of these wonderfully diverse ladies. I know that even after this journey is over, our friendships and memories will just continue to grow and create bonds that will last a lifetime.
Mary Elizabeth, Jordan, and me having a good time in Cinque Terre!
Entering the eighth week of this incredible journey in Italy, I am already experiencing a sense of nostalgia. The first one at the airport on that Monday afternoon in May, I had no idea who I would be surrounded by for the next twelve weeks, nor the friendships I would secure with people who would help me to grow as a person. Together, the twenty of us ladies have morphed seamlessly into a type of family able to push one another to make the most out of our time here.
With the first couple of months in Italy behind me, I reflect on the grandeur of Italian architecture, relish in the undeniable cuisine, and admire the passion of our Italian professors who so vehemently strive to educate us students on their culture and beliefs. While there is endless information to ingest and countless churches to appreciate, I feel that this program does an outstanding job of balancing the time we spend in the classroom, versus traveling on fieldtrips to experience these amazing sites firsthand. As the weeks pass, every student documents their time here in a journal containing a vast range of cooking recipes, architectural history, and many, many pictures. I value the opportunity to document this journey so thoroughly because I will cherish these memories and the knowledge I have gained forever.
Throughout the duration of this trip, I have tried to live each day following one of my favorite phrases, “When is the last time you did something for the first time?” Thank you, Drake, for the insightful thought. Because of this ideology, I have jumped off a cliff in the Mediterranean Sea, tried squid in my pasta, and even have plans to skydive over the Swiss Alps. Keeping this motto close to my heart, I believe that I was brought on this adventure to gain as many experiences as possible and savor every moment because the time passes all too quickly. In the next five weeks I hope to continue learning, laughing, and loving the place I am in with the most amazing people by my side. For this journey I am truly thankful.
Our lovely group in the town center of Pompeii!
Nothing could prepare me for the experiences I have had while studying abroad in Italy and there is absolutely nothing in the world that could give me as many feelings in one moment as when I first stepped off that airplane and begun to get to know my new home and family for the next three months.
Ariccia becomes home almost instantly. After long days and sometimes weeks of travel we are excited to just be back home. There are hardly any other places while studying abroad that give me the true sense of home as the Chigi Palace gives me. It remains astonishing to me how fast the palace really takes on the role of being our home. Maybe this exists because of how clean it is kept, or maybe the fact that we are supplied with our own space, but I strongly believe the reason for the Palace becoming our “home” happens so quickly because of something much deeper and much more personal.
In Ariccia I have learned to live in one place with twenty unique and inspiring personalities. Through traveling together and having assignments that force us to talk in front of one another, I have begun to view my palace companions as my new family. As a family we can travel to new places and share stories from our past and present that bring each and every one of us closer together. We laugh, we cry, we bicker, and we support one another through it all.
This family does not stop at our current companions though. In fact, as we travel during our months in Italy, we meet even more inspiring people and gain a sense of family in Ariccia through these experiences. Whether it is the owners of our favorite local restaurant or the children of the local schools, we cannot help but keep them in a very special compartment of our hearts. This family even extends to those who have studied at the Chigi Palace previously and those who will study after us, as we all become one of the “Chigi Babies”.
This sense of family and home will follow us throughout our lives and provide us with opportunities we may have never had if it were not for this amazing support system. We have even started to really feel like part of the famous Chigi family, referring to Pope Alexander VII as our Pope.
Ciao Chigi Babies,
“Where thou art, that is home” Emily Dickinson
I cannot help but hum the lyrics “We’re halfway there” from the Bon Jovi song “Living On a Prayer” as the end of our time abroad is closing in more rapidly than I would like to believe. Our weeks have been filled with full schedules; a gift our group continues to maximize. More specifically, this week took a sharp turn from our time in the classroom with various influential lecturers to living out of our suitcases as we explored Prague, Umbria, Cinque Terre and beyond.
Time after time, these small towns invigorate our time, amidst heavy eyes and blistered feet, as we seek the side streets to find traditional restaurants, ceramics, and locals who reflect the heart of their city. Orvieto granted us an insight into Bottega Michelangeli’s woodworks seen around the town as well as the handmade ceramics of family owned businesses that accentuated homes and restaurants alike with detailed images of antiquity. These specialties proved to be the perfect gifts for the ultimate homemakers; our mothers!
Our time away from the palace began to wind down as we visited a family-operated winery, Trebotti, where we tasted some of Italy’s most organic and finest grapes from this budding wine business. There is always something about the time spent around a meal and a glass (or two) of wine that creates the most special of communities among our group. In these times, we are refueled, encouraged, and our motley crew comes together to share more of our hearts amidst this unbelievable adventure. Each member adds a unique perspective, enlightening our experience for the better.
As we approach the halfway mark and a break from our time together, I hope that we continue to challenge ourselves to never stop exploring, to fill our time with the fullness of adventure so that we may continue to unite together, enlightening one another with stories that continue to humble us in remembering that this education abroad is truly once in a lifetime.
“In wine, there’s truth.” — Pliny the Elder
Ciao for now,