The “Indiana Jones” of Art


Livio during lecture today, with the paintings discussed below. On the left, is the original painting of the Roman Forum, and on the right, the newly revealed painting.

Compared to traveling and class field trips, sometimes class in the palace can seem less interesting, but today one class really caught my attention. Maybe because I got a decent amount of sleep last night or the fact that I drank a couple of espressos before class; either way, our lectures today were by far some of my favorite. The lecture that really caught my attention was the one on art restoration with our lecturer Livio Lacuitti. Livio has dedicated his whole life to restoring paintings, frescos, and even the ceilings in some of the churches that we will visit during our time in Italy. Today, Livio showed us a painting that was brought into him to inspect. The painting was of the Roman Forum with a river running through it. If you have ever been to the Roman Forum, you would know that there is no river running through it. Livio found this piece to be very suspicious so he decided to investigate the piece further. He asked the owner if he could see if there was anything painted under the current work. So after some further investigation, and the use of an X-ray machine, he found a hand, and Livio and the owner decided to scrape the current painting and see what was to be found underneath. After many hours, of work they discovered a painting of an unknown magistrate. The owner was very pleased with the end product and his completely restored painting, and it turned out that the piece of art was now worth more than the previous, due to the new painting being of better quality. I found it very fascinating that he could take one piece of art and have the skill and knowledge to know that there was another piece under it, just because of a suspicious feature he noticed on the previous painting. In addition, I found the restoration process to be extremely precise and intriguing. After learning about Livio’s step by step process, I am convinced that it takes a very special and skillful person to do this work. Livio has one of the most fascinating and challenging jobs in my opinion, and his lecture today illustrated further to me the importance of his job to this region.

-Brandon Rohrer

“It’s the Climb”

As Miley Cyrus once sang, “There’s always gonna be another mountain, I’m always gonna wanna make it move. Always gonna be an uphill battle, sometimes I’m gonna have to lose. Ain’t about how fast I get there, ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side. It’s the climb.

Mount Vesuvius was quite the climb. Nearing the end of a week of being inspired by our amazing professors, I found myself “awaken” by the hike we went on. It was breath taking in many ways; needless to say, the hike up was challenging. However, I have not done a hike that rewarding since the summer before my freshman year of college- there was something about having to push myself up this mountain when we were all hot, swatting bugs out of the way, and legs on fire from the straight uphill struggle. Finally reaching the top and looking around completely in awe of the view and the creation that is in front of me was so refreshing.

Aside from the physical aspect of this hike, I found myself hiking up the mountain with friends I had not had the chance to get to know yet. I loved this part of the day the most. This group is so special to me already. We have such amazing people with so many different personalities, but it is such a unique dynamic because of that. I am excited about these relationships developing throughout this summer and having the opportunity to go back to Auburn together in the fall makes it even better.


We survived Mount Vesuvius! | Thankful for a summer spent with these four sweet souls!

Amy Kate Simmons | Summer 2016

Second Chances

At the start of this semester aboard, midterm break seemed like it was so far off, but as it approached, the time seemed to have gone by so fast. For most of us our parents visited over the break and it was a whole new experience to get to show our parents around the continent that has made this semester abroad such a fabulous one. My midterm break was spent showing my parents around Rome and seeing again the amazing places as well as the breathtaking architecture that Italy has to offer. Before the break had begun I thought about how I might regret not being able to explore more cities and countries I hadn’t already visited, but looking back, revisiting the various cities in Italy was the best decision I could have made for the break.

Of course as a group we have gone to Rome many times throughout the semester, but over midterm it was nice to just be able to slowly explore the city when I didn’t already have an agenda for the day planned out. By walking through the city, I saw and explored many new areas and actually experienced a side of Rome that most tourists don’t even get to see. One of my favorite parts of the break was watching how my parents reacted to every new place we went.

The thing that stuck out to me the most from midterm break was how, even though we visit many churches during the duration of our study abroad, my mother wanted to walk into any and all churches we passed while walking around Rome together. Of course Rome alone has 1000 Catholic churches in its city limits and not all of them are well known. This was one of my favorite things we did mainly, because no matter how big or small or insignificant the church seemed from the outside almost all of them were breathtaking on the inside. This week when I was just supposed to be bored, I got to experience something entirely new about Rome that I didn’t ever think about doing and it ended up being one of my favorite things to do. The biggest lesson I learned this week was to never think that visiting a place twice is a disadvantage, because you’ll always find new things to do, see, and experience.


Kayla Russian

The interior of an unknown church my family and I found while walking through all the small streets of Rome.

The breathtaking interior of an unknown church my family and I found while walking through the small side streets of Rome.

The Auburn Family Abroad

A few weeks ago our class took a field trip to Orvieto. We arrived in the late afternoon after a day full of sightseeing, so I changed into a t-shirt as soon as we checked into the hotel. Soon after, a group of five of us was wandering around the streets looking for a place to eat dinner. We stopped outside a restaurant with an outdoor patio to look at the menu when a man sitting with his family yelled, “War Eagle!” at us; he had seen the small emblem on my shirt. We talked to the family at length and discovered that the husband and wife were both Auburn graduates and now lived in Arkansas. We were so surprised at the odds of running into Auburn fans in this small Italian town that our night was made.

We decided to eat at the same restaurant as the family and when they left they gave us a parting, “War Eagle” and wished us well on the rest of our trip. About an hour later when we asked for the check the waiter informed us that the family had paid for our meal and instead of a check brought us a note from them. We were all so enchanted by their generosity; it was such an exemplary instance of “the human touch” at work. This small act of kindness proved to all of us how strong the Auburn family is, even across generations and oceans. On the walk home that night we all decided that one day we would have to return the favor if we encountered Auburn students in our future travels.

Mizna Kanafani

The note from our new Auburn friends

The note from our new Auburn friends

A Place to Call Home

Upon arriving in Italy seven weeks ago, I was convinced that I would never think of this small town called Ariccia as my home. Everything was so new and unfamiliar that the thought of becoming comfortable enough in this place to call it my “home away from home” seemed unfathomable. However, I have realized that every time I come back to this place from a long day in Rome or a weekend out of the country, I am relieved to be back in Ariccia and back in the Chigi Palace.

I think being set in a small town has been helpful in making a place in Italy my home for the summer. I have been so immersed in the culture and atmosphere of Ariccia, that is has the same familiar feel that my home back in the States does. Because this town is so used to students living here, we have established relationships with many of the people here. As is appropriate in Italian culture, I have bonded with Ariccia mostly by means of food. One of the first things I learned here is that eating is a social event that is supposed to be shared with friends and family. Meals become an event rather than something that is done as a routine. In my time here, I have established my favorite places to eat, so I see familiar faces all the time.

I strongly believe that creating relationships with the people who live here and appreciating the warm welcome I get wherever I go has made my time here so much more valuable. Ariccia, however small it may be, is a place I am grateful to claim as my home and somewhere that is and always will be warmly received whenever I arrive.

Alex Phillips

The streets of Ariccia

The streets of Ariccia

Papa Francesco!

On Wednesday, June 1st 2016, I was lucky enough to breathe in the same air as one of the most influential people in the world, Pope Francis. While on the Joseph S. Bruno study abroad program, we get to experience many amazing things every day, but being able to attend the Papal Audience was one of the most surreal events so far. As we entered the Vatican early that morning there were tons of tourists gathered to see the Pope, with the hopes of maybe getting a picture of him riding by in the popemobile! As soon as they opened the gates to sit down, we sprinted to the front row and luckily got seats right by the white fence. This was perfect because it meant we could get a close up shot of the man himself. As we waited for him to come out, I was in awe about how many different people were around me and how far they had all traveled for this event. The sweet lady sitting beside me even gave me a prayer card on protection and healing which was so thoughtful. Finally, after about an hour of waiting in the hot morning sun, the popemobile took off around the center square of the Vatican and Pope Francis was waving and kissing as many babies as he could as he drove past all of his admirers. As he inched towards our section of seats, people were pushing every direction just to get a quick look at the adorable man. Finally, he was right in front of me so I pulled out my phone and at the perfect second I got a selfie with him! I was honestly so excited and felt like I got a picture with the most famous person in the world!

After his renowned car ride was over, he led the audience in prayer that was then translated into what seemed like over 20 different languages. The Papal Audience was something I never thought I would attend, but I’m very thankful I was given the opportunity because it made me aware of the heavy impact the Catholic Church has throughout the world.

This is a selfie of me and Pope Francis as he is driving by in the Pope Mobile.

This is a selfie of Pope Francis and me as he is driving by in the popemobile.


Madison Delaney

Hallo aus Deutschland!!

Hallo aus Deutschland!!

When I first landed in Munich, Germany, I did not know what to expect from my first personal travel time. Walking around I noticed the architecture looked as elaborate as Italy’s. There were ginormous buildings everywhere with a lot of them having Gothic styling. I even went to the top of St. Peter’s Church and saw a sky-high view of Munich, which was beautiful. Afterwards, I tried currywurst with fries. The currywurst was good and the fries tasted like they were from America. I finished my meal and continued to explore Munich. I spent hours looking at shops and going inside those huge buildings from before, making sure to take a millions pictures along the way. One of the places I stopped at was the Hofbräuhaus, which is where Oktoberfest is held. It was really cool to see the place that I have heard about since I was in middle school. I had dinner there that night and it was one of the best decisions of my life. I have never been in a restaurant that was so full of life. Strangers were getting up and dancing along to the live band. It felt like I was at a live concert. Waking up the next day, I was a little exhausted from eating myself into oblivion at the Hofbräuhaus, but I was also excited because I was going to Dachau to see what was left of the former concentration camp. Nothing could compare to walking through the gas chamber. Just knowing what happened there and how many people were probably killed in that room, gave me the most chilling sensation I have ever had. I could not imagine what all of those people must have gone through. To uplift my spirit a little, I went to another well-known restaurant called Augustine-Keller. It was just as lively as the restaurant the night before, which really made me not want to leave Munich, but I had to. The next morning, I got onto a train and rode all the way to Berlin. Berlin was a lot more modernized than Munich, but just as beautiful. I walked around the city and saw a lot of historical buildings, like their government capital and the Berlin angel of victory. The next day I spent all morning shopping and part of the afternoon at the Berlin Wall. Actually seeing the wall was breathtaking, because having it built and torn down was such a huge part of Germany’s history. It made me feel like I was experiencing the wall being torn down myself. Even though I only spent three and a half days in Germany, it was definitely one of the best trips I have ever taken.

Jasmine Freeman

The Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall

Greener Gardens

Tucked away in the town of Tivoli, my class had the opportunity to visit one of the most well designed examples of an Italian Renaissance garden.

The Villa d’este was commissioned by Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este. When Pope Paul III passed away, the Cardinal had a great desire to become the next pope. Although he was one of the candidates, he ultimately lost the position to Pope Julius III. After losing in the election, he started work on the villa and gardens. It is commonly believed that he built it out of anger or frustration, but I believe he was looking for a way to make his mark on the world.

In the past, people would enter the garden from the bottom of the property and work their way up numerous staircases to the villa. As they would walk up towards the villa, they would stop at different points to look out over the garden and get a view of the symmetrical arrangement of flowers, statues, and fountains. Then, when finally making it to the top of the garden to the villa, they would get a scenic view of the entire garden they had just walked through.

Today, however, people enter through the villa and then into the garden, opposite the way that was originally intended. So, I got to see the amazing view of the garden before walking through it! The quality of the architecture clearly showed the attention to detail Cardinal d’Este had paid in order to achieve the desired effect on its visitors.

One my favorite pieces of the garden, and perhaps its most complex feature, is its organ. It only plays at certain times of the day, but luckily the organ played while my class was in the garden. What makes this organ special is that it’s not played by a person, but only by the sounds of water hitting the pipes. Even in modern times, figuring out how to make the water hit the pipes in just the right way to perform multiple songs would be extremely difficult; I can’t imagine how long it took for someone to figure it out in the 14th century! The effort and time Cardinal d’Este put into creating this garden after he wasn’t chosen to be the pope showed me that even if things don’t go my way, it may mean that something better is coming along in my future!

Hayley Hughes | Summer 2016

View of fountain and Water Organ

View of fountain and water organ

Taking Time to Enjoy the View

It’s honestly all the little things that make me stop and put this whole trip into perspective. The little things are what end up being the big things in the long run and it just goes to show how easy it is to get caught up in the day-to-day whirlwind of getting to live abroad for twelve weeks. It is far too easy to forget how incredibly lucky I am to be here in these places. It is hard to remember to slow down and enjoy every experience and opportunity that is being thrown at me.

One thing that always has a way of putting things into perspective for me is nature. It’s chaotic order can be calming and reassuring during times of normal rush. Our recent trip to Positano was a beautiful change of pace from the usual hustle around Europe, and it was one of those times when nature helped me see things so clearly.

The previous week before Positano, Maurizio talked to us about the differences between Southern versus Northern Italy, and Positano was a perfect example of this. The lifestyle of southern Italy seemed so relaxed, and the pace of life was noticeably more slow and peaceful (at least in comparison to Rome). It was neat to see this change of pace, as well as being a cool way to see the parallels between Southern Italy and the South in the United States.

Maurizio also talked about how the South is more agriculture based as opposed to the North being more industrial. I could see this in the fresh foods we had access to, like fresh lemons and oranges, and fresh seafood.

I also could see the agriculture side of the South in the beauty of the nature that surrounded us in the sea and in the mountains.

A few of us hiked the Path of the Gods on Saturday afternoon and it was incredible to experience the raw nature all around us. We were high above the cities off the coast and it was breathtakingly beautiful. The mountains and sea from up that high were so vast and immense that it was easy to see the beauty that was surrounding us.

This is just a small glimpse of the view from the Path of the Gods on the Amalfi Coast. Pictures really don't do it justice.

This is just a small glimpse of the view from the Path of the Gods on the Amalfi Coast. Pictures really don’t do it justice.

This is what made me think about how it is so easy to take for granted the incredible opportunities I am getting to experience everyday on this study abroad trip. It’s the grand, vast views overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and the clearly (or sometimes not so clearly) cut paths flooded with tourists that allow you to see the beauty of this earth that God has created. I get to go to so many new places and experience countless new things. It is hard to not get caught up in everything and forget to think about what a blessing it is to even be here in the first place. Each and every landmark, nature trail, church, city, ruin, and more are so unique and matchless; I just have to slow down and take time to enjoy each one for what it is.

It’s easy to get caught up in being tired or worn down, but this trip is once in a lifetime and I am so fortunate to be experiencing it.

Kate Snow

Dear Positano

As I’m writing this, I’ve just come off one of my most treasured weekends. This past weekend I traveled to Positano–a piece of paradise located on the Amalfi Coast. While the name Positano might not mean anything to many people, I’m certain that Pinterests users have seen this picturesque place amongst your feed. My class arrived by chartered bus on Thursday (5/26), and had the weekend to explore, experience, and discover. First on my agenda was to take full advantage of the cuisine Positano had to offer – fresh seafood (octopus, sea bass) and a regional delicacy – grilled mozzarella over lemon leaves. In addition, the abundance of fresh lemons allowed for the creation of thirst-quenching granitas. Thursday’s evening concluded with a trip to the supermarket for small snacks and a stroll throughout the foothills of the lovely town. Friday (5/27), on a student-planned excursion, we set off on an adventure all our own. We organized a private boat rental to shuttle us around the Tyrrhenian Sea (a piece of the Gulf of Salerno) – exploring sights such as the Blue Grotto and Capri, and cruising us around the crystal blue water. I found an entirely new perspective on the coastal towns of Italy as I experienced it from the sea looking in. The following two days (5/28-29) were spent combing the town’s culture combined with a healthy mix of relaxation via vibrant beachside lounge furniture. From my experience, Positano’s local’s, while few, are welcoming to the visitors who support their thriving economy. As I am advancing further into this summer’s curriculum, I’m witnessing the College of Human Sciences’ engaging academic stimuli at its maximum potential: on a global scale. Living in Ariccia provides a study of slower living, whereas numerous visits to Rome showcase the fast pace of an Italian metropolitan destination. Positano was a welcome addition to these studies – comparing and contrasting cultural differences between Italy’s differing regions. Upon entering Week 4, I am more inspired than ever to delve further into my studies both abroad and in America.

Jeremy Clark | Summer 2016

Group 1 of 2 preparing to dock after a day at sea along the Amalfi Coast–an excursion planned in its entirety by us students.

Pictured: Group 1 of 2 preparing to dock after a day at sea along the Amalfi Coast – an excursion planned in its entirety by us students.