White On Red, and You’re Dead

Mondays. They are a source of stress and anxiety all around the world. The stress of Mondays knows no age, race, or socioeconomic group. However, we in the Chigi Palace are lucky enough to have that stress alleviated, at least for the most part. While school is a major part of what  Joseph S. Bruno Auburn Abroad in Italy is about, our source of knowledge, and how we learn is often much more fun than your average college classroom.
This past Monday, most of us had just returned from our first set of weekend trips. To say we were tired is an understatement. However, we immediately set off for what would end up being one of my favorite experiences thus far. Just up the hill from the Chigi Palace is a local high school that focuses on linguistics. We were given the opportunity to interact with groups of high school students (ages 14-19) and while they got to practice their English, we got to compare and contrast our two worlds. I learned so much from just a 45-minute conversation, that will stay with me for years to come.
After our visit to the high school, we had afternoon lectures, one of which was “Wine History” with Maurizio Antonini, one of our many amazing lecturers. I have always had an interest in wine so I was excited for this lecture and the wine tasting that was to follow. Maurizio is so knowledgeable about so many things, and he definitely deepened my knowledge of wine and wine tasting. How many people can say that they got to do a wine tasting led by a wine expert? Joined by all of their incredibly unique and amazing professors, In Italy! Not many, I know that.
While it is incredible that we are given the weekends to explore the world for ourselves, I have come to realize that some of my favorite moments are the ones that we are making right here in Ariccia. These are the experiences that I will never be able to relive and will never forget. For now, all I can do is keep learning to live like the Italians, slowly and with a glass of wine.
P.S. According to Mary Lou, “Always remember, when it comes to drinking wine, … red on white you’re alright. White on red, you are dead.”

A photo of the wines we sampled during our wine tasting and aperitivo on Monday.

The wines we sampled during our wine tasting and aperitivo on Monday

Caroline Turner

The Fascinating Francesco


With another day done, and many notes and sketches scribbled in my books, I have finally wondered back to my little corner in Palazzo Chigi to reflect on yet another inspiring day. Today was full of adventures around the Chigi Palace, with a morning walk around the lush gardens with Francesco, cooking class with Mary Lou, and then ending the day with Francesco to study Roman architecture. Knowing Francesco for just a few short weeks, I am quickly finding that with each and every conversation or question I ask, he is one of the most fascinating and well-studied people I will ever meet. Walking into the Palace classroom,  (which is different from the campus classroom) to begin our Roman architecture lesson, Francesco stopped a few of us to point out his personal office. From floor to ceiling, the room (in which Francesco spends most of his days) is covered in overstuffed bookshelves. We began to ask him many questions, and he began revealing answers that had me so inspired that it all seems a blur. After being asked, he revealed to us that he himself was the artist of the painting in his office, which he painted from a painting in Los Angeles and interpreted it quite beautifully I must add. He pointed to various personal pictures that covered his shelves, proudly pointing out his beautiful wife, and a picture of himself in a leather jacket (in Positano)  with one of the first Auburn groups. He had us all laughing when he imitated his younger self in his leather jacket. Francesco continued spinning around the room to point out sketches, paintings, and another special picture of himself with one of the Chigi family members. We were simply amazed.

The man who is the master mind behind anything you want to know about Palazzo Chigi, is also the master of architecture, art, and just about anything Bernini. He even revealed to us a story about how he recently recognized a missing Bernini sculpture, and showed us the book he was published in. It was the most impressive spread, even though he acted like it was nothing. As we proceeded back to the classroom, Francesco rolled in a few seconds behind with a large folder and held up multiple sketches he had done. Ranging from his little brother, to sketches of architecture for publishing, we were awed as we realized he has quite frankly done it all. Honestly, I wanted to ask if I could buy one; he had created the utmost of treasures.

Smiling while typing, I think about how lucky I am to be living in a part of the Palazzo Chigi. I have quickly come to learn this palace’s and family’s importance on Rome and the region, Lazio. Every day I am in class, or exploring a town or city, I think of how lucky I am to be getting to know these truly spectacular professors and directors in this program. Each completely fascinating in their own way, they are by far one of the most unique parts about my experience so far in Ariccia. Cinzia, who seems to have been anywhere I ask her about and can answer all of my questions, to Francesco who has literally found a sculpture, to Sandra who is bilingual and fabulous, and even Mary Lou who has never once repeated a recipe the exact same way according to her husband- they each have already made a personal mark on me. Linda, who knows so much about Rome’s ruins and architecture, and beams while teaching about it, to Maurizio who is the wine expert, and to Roberta, who knows everything there is to know about European travel and who is so passionate about her lectures- these kind of people one only comes across rarely in a lifetime. And to think, we’ve got them all at our finger tips for the rest of the summer! I cannot wait to continue to pick their brains!

Francesco Petrucci, Director of the Chigi Palace in Ariccia and our Art History professor, showing us his personal office in the palace

Francesco Petrucci, Director of the Chigi Palace in Ariccia and our Art & History lecturer, showing us his personal office in the palace


Lindsay Rohrer


Backpacking Around While Abroad

It is crazy to think that we have been in Ariccia for a little over two weeks and still have just less than ten weeks left. So far, we have explored the “Castelli Romani” (Roman Castles in the Alban Hills) and the famous and beloved city of Rome. In this short time, we have learned an immense amount about the Italian culture and way of life that I would not be able to experience through a traditional classroom setting or textbook.

Learning and exploring Italy is great, but another amazing thing about Joseph S. Bruno Auburn Abroad in Italy is that they allow time for weekend travel. The good thing about this is that in addition to being in Italy for the summer, we are able to travel around Europe and discover even more cultures and different ways of life. This weekend was the first weekend we have had time for weekend travel and a group of us decided to go to Germany.

First, we went to Fussen, Germany. We took a taxi to the Rome Fuimicino airport, then took a plane, caught a metro to the train station, and finally took a beautiful and scenic train ride into the town of Fussen. Fussen looks like a fairytale town and has a lot of charm. The first day, we visited a castle up in the mountains and had a traditional German meal for dinner. The second day, we went back to Munich to discover the major attractions there, including a trip to Dachau, the first concentration camp.

All in all, the weekend travel was a good experience because it taught us a lot about planning personal travel and navigating other countries on our own. Visiting other cities is both refreshing and exciting because it is such a change of pace from our little town of Ariccia. It allows us to compare and contrast the Italian charm and beauty of Ariccia with the charm and beauty of other places in Europe and truly appreciate the aspects of each place. I enjoyed being able to take advantage of every moment and every opportunity while abroad.

I can’t wait for more adventures to come!

Hana Thannickal

In front of the Schloss Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau, Germany right before our tour of the inside!

In front of the Schloss Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau, Germany right before our tour of the inside

Not “Just Another Dead Guy”

I hear names and titles like Julius Caesar and the Colosseum in almost every history class. I always rolled my eyes and tried to stay awake as we learned about “just another dead guy”. The Joseph S. Bruno Auburn Abroad in Italy trip has completely changed the way I view history and I could not be more excited to make that statement. To walk down the same street that Caesar and some of the most influential people in history have walked down is surreal! To stand in the Colosseum and see how they built such a massive structure with their bare hands and with no mortar to hold the large stones together was bizarre. Trap doors and secret passageways underneath the stage using a pulley system to raise large animals and gladiators, both ready to surprise the enemy above, were engineering masterpieces. It is amazing to stand in front of Michelangelo and Bernini paintings, structures, and sculptures that were once a blank canvas or block of marble and see first hand why they are world renown. There is something about being here and seeing these magnificent works of art that no picture in a history book could ever do justice. There are details on every column and a family crest embedded in every building that I would have never seen or learned about had I not gone on this adventure. With family coming in a few weeks, I have already started making a list of things that they have to see while in Italy because there is so much that remians when Roman civilization is studied. This trip has already been so amazing and I have learned so much! I cannot wait to show off my new knowledge and the place I get to call home for the next three months to my family and social media followers. To say least, the first week and a half have been nothing short of incredible! I look forward to the upcoming weeks and the adventures to be had!

Ame McGraw

This photo os from the inside of the Colosseum. This shot shows the passageways and trap doors that were under the stage. It also shows where stadium seats once were for the noblemen (across the floor and to the left).

This photo is from the inside of the Colosseum. This shot shows the passageways and trap doors that were under the stage. It also shows where stadium seats once were for the noblemen (across the floor and to the left).

Intentional in Italy

The first week in Italy has come to a close, and I am already learning much more than I expected. When I thought of Italy before I came on this trip, I imagined a very relaxed culture where life is taken as it comes. Although this thought does have some truth, I have been surprised at the intentionality and thoughtfulness of the Italians.

On our second day in Arricia, Cinzia (our incredible resident tour guide) spent about 20 minutes explaining how the recycling/trash system works in Italy. There are separate containers for organic, non-organic, paper, plastic, metal, and glass items. Cinzia explained the importance of making sure each object is put in the right bin because what is placed in the organic bin is used to fertilize the soil, and the Italians try to minimize as much waste as possible.

Similarly, during a lunch in Frascati (a charming city in Castelli Romai), Cinzia explained how much of the preservatives found in food in America are considered illegal to put in food in Italy. I knew that the United States had preservatives in their food, but I was shocked to see how conscious the Italians are at making sure their food remained as preservative free as possible. Likewise, when going to the grocery store, food can only be bought in small quantities because it goes bad quickly due to the lack of preservatives.

Although I had heard that Europeans tended to eat fresher and more organic than Americans, I was surprised at the prevalence of this practice as well as how intentional the Italian people are about preserving the land, respecting the environment, and being mindful about what they ingest. This has caused me to want to be much more cognizant of what preservatives I am putting into my body as well as what I am throwing away and try to recycle more instead of throwing something away solely for convenience sake.

Coming to Italy, I expected to learn mostly about the ancient sites and history that took place in Rome. However, being in Ariccia and having the opportunity to live in a small, authentic Italian community has allowed me to make observations such as these that have greatly enriched my understanding of the Italian culture.

These are strawberries that were for sale in Nemi (a small town in the Castelli Romani region), and they are a perfect example of the freshness of the food.

These are strawberries that were for sale in Nemi (a small town in the Castelli Romani region), and they are a perfect example of the freshness of the food.

SaraLynn Lowry

All In This Together

My first Saturday in Italy was spent doing a scavenger hunt throughout Rome. Because it was supposed to rain that day, my group and I decided to take the early train from Albano to Rome in order to get a head start. This was going to be my first time being in Rome so; I was extremely excited for this day trip. As we exited the train station and made our way into the city, the rain started as a sprinkle and eventually turned into a downpour. We all put on our rain jackets and opened our umbrellas and tried our best to continue on with the scavenger hunt. As the day went on, the rain grew heavier and the temperature only got colder. By 10:00 am, we had walked over 10,000 steps, and all of our tennis shoes were soaking wet. Each step we took, we could all feel the water squish between our toes beneath our drenched socks. At this point we were all cold, wet, and tired, but all I could think about was how we were all in this together. That was the point in time when I realized that by the end of this summer, I would have so many crazy but wonderful memories with these 21 people I had just met. It has only been one week and I already feel like I have made so many lasting friendships with the people I will eventually call my family. I cannot wait to find out how the rest of the summer will turn out, but I am almost positive it will be nothing short of amazing.

We ended up finishing the scavenger hunt that day, and although we were freezing, we, of course, had to end the day with some delicious Italian gelato!

We managed to get a group photo on Bernini’s Angel Bridge in front of Castel Sant’Angelo during the few minutes it was not raining!

We managed to get a group photo on Bernini’s Angel Bridge in front of Castel Sant’Angelo during the few minutes it was not raining!

By: Bailey Klipsch