Throughout our 4 weeks spent in Siena we came to explore most of the little streets within the city walls. Our final project assigned us to explore an area outside of the gates, the town of Ravacciano and the area affecting Porta Ovile. During our investigation of this area we discovered a hidden treasure, and developed our project around bringing awareness and attention back to it. For more details click the link below for a full explanation of our final project.
After our final Review on Wednesday we all got together for a big group dinner, spent one last night hanging out in the Campo, packed, and were on our way to Barcelona by 5 am. A group of 14 of us took a bus to Rome, the train to Termini, a train to the airport, and a place to Barcelona. The group ended up being on two different flights on the way. I ended up on the later flight, and am very thankful I did as about 20 peoples luggage was lost from the earlier flight. When we arrived we got our rental car, and were on our way to find our flat. We didn’t have much of a clue where we were going, but we knew from the photos we saw online that it was right near La Sagrada Familia. When we finally found it we couldn’t believe the view we had of this incredible gothic church. We were on the sixth floor, on the corner of the block with our balcony angled for the most incredible view of the cathedral possible. Whether it was day or night, there was always someone sitting on the balcony, or standing at the window gazing at it.
We were all so exhausted after a full day of traveling that we called it a night early. The next morning we were up and about pretty early. Our first stop was to see the Barcelona Pavilion. It was incredible to see in person, and to actually be standing in Mies’ building that we have learned about so many times in history class. His use of simple lines and minimal forms is so powerful that I think it inspired all of us.
Our next stop was to Barceloneta, a beach that was rated #3 in the world by the Discovery Channel. It was a beautiful beach, with perfect sand and great people watching.
As we were approaching the beach we stumbled upon Gehry’s giant fish sculpture along the waterfront.
As I was approaching this from a distance, it appeared that it was a true, complete fish. As we got closer we made our way directly in front of the sculpture, and were amazed to find that it was actually just a bent sheet of weaved metal that appeared fully in the shape of a fish from a distance.
After the beach we had a nice dinner and made our way to Las Ramblas, the center of Barcelona nightlife. The next morning we woke to do it all again. We went to go get the rental car, and were surprised with a window that had been smashed in. We tried not to let it ruin our day, and continued to the beach for the day. The next morning we packed for the final stretch home, and RJ went to go get the other car. He was also surprised with a matching smashed window. Nonetheless, we loaded up the cars and stood in line for a last chance to get inside La Sagrada Familia. It was one of the most incredible things I have seen. Its amazing to me that construction is still going, and has been since the 1800’s. We wandered through the cathedral and its museum for a while, before making the long journey back to Rome. I think our experiences from this entire trip finally sent in when we began talking to a group of people on the plane who were on a post-graduation European adventure. They had nothing planned, and were asking us all about where we had been and what we would recommend. We told them about our favorite places, and it finally sunk in that we had just spent our summer’s in Europe, and that it had flown by faster than we could have imagined. We spent our last night back in Rome, wandering the streets one last time, and purchasing a few last minute souvenirs. In the morning we began the long journey back to the USA.
This weekend a group of us traveled to one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, Ischia. This is an island right next to Capri, but much less crowded and a little less expensive. We took a bus ride to Rome, a train to Termini, a train to Naples, a ferry to Ischia, and finally a cab to our hotel. Somewhere along the line I realized I had forgotten my camera card in my laptop back in Siena. It was ok though, since the person I was traveling with had theirs. That is, until he forgot his entire camera in the taxi. Needless to say, this blog will be light on photos, but the images of this island will last forever. This island was made up of a huge mountain, making every single hotel have an incredible view. Our hotel was up the mountain a ways, giving us all a really intense leg workout over the two days we spent there. We spent our days relaxing on the stone beaches, and our nights eating one of the best calzones I have ever eaten. The following day we decided to spend in Naples. In hindsight, I do wish we would have spent the extra day in Ischia. Naples reminded me of any other American city, dirty and a little scarey at night. We did a nice dinner, played with some puppies at a pet store, and then ended up spending most of the night hanging out in our hostel. Perhaps we were in the wrong section of Naples, it’s hard to find a good location when you’re picking a hotel online. When the ferry brought us back to Naples it dropped us off by what appeared to be the historic district of Naples, which appeared cleaner and a bit prettier. We stayed right near the main tran station however, to make our morning commute back to Siena a little easier. At this point I truly am starting to feel like we have earned the name of ‘Professional Tourists,’ and masters of public transportation.
Overall, it was a great weekend, and Ischia is a place I would love to visit again. We had also planned to see the ruins at Pompeii this weekend, that will have to go on my to do list the next time I make it to Italy.
This is one image I managed to steal from someone else who went on the trip, who didn’t have camera problems. This is the view from our hotel, walking down to the beach.