Since this was my first time traveling to Europe, I wanted to take a course that would allow me to learn about Italian culture and places in depth. I signed up for Fall Cultural Introduction to Italy with Professor Cecilia Ricci. This trip started in Rome and then went to Bomarzo, Bagnaia, Caprarola, Cinque Terre, and other small towns in Tuscany. Everything was scheduled for us: walking tours, garden visits, church visits, winery visits, and much more. We also had occasional lunches and dinners.
My favorite part of the trip was the Sacred Forest of Bomarzo and Villa Lante in Bagnaia.
- The Sacred Wood of Bomarzo was my favorite place I visited in this course. It combined nature and art. It was a pleasant experience to walk through the land. It was built in 1552 by Prince Francesco Orsini, also known as Vicino, and dedicated to his beloved wife Giulia Farnese who died too young.
- The garden has beautiful sculptures in a Mannerist style designed by the artist Pirro Ligorio.
- Villa Lante in Bagnaia is also a Mannerist garden. The garden consisted of three or more levels and beautiful frescoes in the buildings.
- The estate was constructed in 1566 by the architect Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola and was commissioned by Cardinal Gianfrancesco Gambara.
The Vatican was also a significant experience for me. It was marvelous to see famous artwork, such as the Pietà and the Last Judgment by Michelangelo. We also had a fantastic tour guide who was very knowledgeable about the church, the Pope, the artwork, and the mosaics.
One of the main points that I am sure everyone would like to know about is the food and wine. Some of our dinners and lunches were planned through the class course fee, and others were on our own. We also visited a winery and had wine with each dinner. Most of the food was great, and for dinner, we had three-course meals. Three courses with wine are the typical way Italians eat dinner. I had a hard time eating all the dishes (slow eater), but it was great. When we toured the winery in Bolgheri, we tried three different wines, one white and two reds. One red wine was dry and had a complex flavor profile compared to the other red wine. During our tasting, we were served a selection of cold cuts, vegetables, olive oil, and cheese.
Even though this class was an exceptional experience, remember it is still a class. We had daily homework, journals, readings, a final exam, and a presentation. The course is somewhat attentive, but it’s a great experience, and I am so happy I signed up for Cultural Introduction to Italy.
Trenedy is a Fall 2021 Florence student from Winthrop University.