Today we went and visited with leaders from The 5 Star Movement. There main focus is to eliminate corruption from the government and to give the power back to the people. There movement has gained a lot of momentum in the past couple years and it is very admirable that their efforts are making changes in the political world. Hearing from this group really gave an insight in how the Italian government really works and how corrupt it really is. They explained that government officials in Italy are paid an extremely big amount and the members of the party in government are only allowed to kept 3,000 euro every month. They do this to demonstrate that it is not right that government officials are getting paid this much while the unemployment rate is through the roof. They also described circumstances in which they would sue former member of their party because the movement would help them get elected as an official and then they would decide they wanted to get paid. This showed their dedication to their cause.
Today we went to the activist group Green Peace. It was interesting to hear all of the different ways they work to end global warming. They focus on five different points toxic textiles, forest preservation, ocean preservation, global warming and agriculture. Making everything more environmental friendly and approaching these problems with long term solutions. A factor that I found extremely different from the other activists groups was that Green Peace said that they don’t really spend a lot of their time educating the public which was a completely new idea to me. The speaker said it was because they didn’t have enough money to educate on a big scale so focused more on research and similar things.
Today we walked around Rome. We first went to the Pantheon in and it was interesting to see where the Romans where the Romans worshiped their gods. The building is a perfect circle with a hole in the middle of the building so the people are that much closer to their gods. The architecture they created for this building is amazing especially because this building would have only worked if there was a hole in the top. Next we went to the Colosseum and walked around there. It was fascinating to here all the history behind the colosseum. How people could have actually done that to other people. We were then presented with the idea that this could be going on still today just in a different format like not giving enough money to the poor, which basically leaves them to die. After learning about that we went to roman ruins and Kirk talked about how the city was during the actual time of rome when it was in it’s high. I found it fascinating how the society had figured out how to encourage gender roles during that time through the women who volunteered to clean and take care of the building in the center of town. After lunch, we walked to our meeting with Libera and learned about the Italian Mafia and how they work to change society’s acceptance of Mafia. They attempt to do this by converting confiscated Mafia land into land that the public can benefit from. Education was also very important in their process. This kind of brings up similarities over many of the different activist groups. Education is a tool the different groups use to expand their ideas and movements.
This day we went to Florence again and for the first half of the day I went to the Uffisis and saw a lot of famous paintings displaying the development of the different renaissance characteristics. It was interesting to see how the artists would learn from each other, use it, and then implement something further in their own work. After lunch we went and saw Michelangelo’s David. I loved hearing how Michelangelo made the body show even more emotion by how the body was exaggerated in certain aspects, like his hips and muscles. After we went to the Michelangelo museum with the Medici graves and the night and day statues. That was also fascinating to see all of the different symbols used to display a time of day.
We got to florence and walked to the main Piazza. My group toured the Duomo first and we saw the architecture used for the cathedral. It was very geometric and it had a large open area when you walked in that looked like tile carpet. It was explained that it was suppose to be kind of like an indoor piazza. The walls were pretty much bare except for a couple of pictures of mercenaries on the wall. An announcement came on while we were in there with the shhh noise and “silence” It was extremely creepy. After we left the main cathedral we went out to the baptistry and the doors were done by different people and we all different styles. The outside was under construction, so that wasn’t very fun, but inside, it was beautiful. It was a completely different style than inside the main cathedral. There many gold and mosaic embellishments. It used to have stairs down to a pool where you would be baptized and then go into the church. They would do this on easter Sunday and other days which I can’t remember. That was cool to know that was actually used to baptize people. After we toured that church, we went onto the Basilica. It was extremely beautiful inside. It was built using a softer and cooler stone on the inside than the other. This church had a private room for the Medici family. After we looked around the top level, we went around through a courtyard and down and we saw many different jewels that were used in different eras and you could drastically see a difference in the style of the different pieces. Some were very gaudy and the others ornate. All were made out of extremely beautiful material. We saw an important Medici at the time and it was obvious that he was extremely important because his grave was placed in one of the most important support spots of the cathedral representing his importance. Right outside his grave Donatello was buried and that was so amazing seeing his actual grave. Crazy. After we finished going through that church we all went back to the main piazza and then we were released for lunch. After we went with Kirk and went into the older part of the city and went to a small church that was a graveyard for little children. Life during this period was centered around death. We also saw where the river had once flooded up to on many of the buildings. Kirk also showed us many of the corridors where Michelangelo would have walked. It was extremely interesting to see how the communities were set up there because before Florence was one city, it was made up of different communities with there own currencies. It was taken over by the Medicis and then collectivized to make a successful city. After we walked around we went to the church where the David was originally placed, but now there is just a replica. I got a ticket of a dead guy dying and before people wanted to switch but no one wanted to switch with me because they didn’t want the ding guy and in the end it was of St. Francis so he was the most important portrait in the church. The church was beautiful just like all the other churches and basically every one you learn about in school was buried there. Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Galileo, and other famous people. After the museum we headed back on the trains to Arezzo.
The visit to Cortona today was amazing. We got off the train and walked up to a viewing spot and it was gorgeous. After we were on our own and Abby and I decided to walk to the very top. The top was so far away so Abby and I took random breaks by what looked like little alters so people didn’t know we were out of shape. We finally made it to the top and we looked at the amazing view and went into the church there. There was a cloth that was said to be the cloth Jesus was wrapped in but since then it has been proven other wise, but it is still cool to get to see something like that. After, we went even further up and toured a castle that was there. It was so beautiful and there was a wall that went around a courtyard and we all got up on that. On the way out we saw the irrigation system and the water was oddly clear in the castle. It was cool to see how they stored water in ancient times. We went to a restaurant after we came down and I had gnocchi and it was pretty good. The lady put bread on our table and we asked if it was included and she said yes so we ate it and then she charged us a euro for each piece of bread.. boo. After lunch we went into a shop and I got an apron and a couple of other things, and then we headed back to Arezzo. It was an eventful day!
Seeing the an actual activist was extremely interesting because while problems are different in Italy, there is always something people are wanting to change no matter where you are. The activist wanted to have the water in Arezzo returned to the public sector because as of now, and for the next 9 years, it is privatized by a French company. The majority of the population is for the publication of the commodity, but nothing will change for awhile because of the government. I thought it was interesting how the government in Italy functions and how it is so corrupt in so many ways. It is surprising because while The United States claims to have a fair judicial system, it is easy to see the similarities in that both governments favor the rich.
The vineyard was so beautiful and I loved hearing about the differences in the wines. My grandmother always has a preference in wine and I never understood. This helped me see how wine can actually be extremely different based on how it was made and then mixed or not mixed. I feel like I still can’t really tell a difference but I feel like I have a better appreciation for different wines.
We went to Rondine today and talked with the students and toured their facility. This program targets student in countries of conflict and provides a scholarship for them to go to a university in Italy while they are simultaneously committed to participating in Rondine activities. Rondine selects students from opposite positions of a conflict and has them live together. This is crucial in eliminating the prejudices the individual has against the other country. The students are forced to interact with each other which ultimately deletes the “single story” that has been created in each of the different countries. It was fascinating to hear all of their different stories and opinions about the government and how they should eliminate these conflicts in these stories. These stories from the students and Rondine’s method can easily be utilized in our everyday lives to understand how race is viewed and the stereotypes that accompany race can be overcome.
Today we talked to Carnitas, a Catholic activist program, that has a very broad range of ways they help people. There goal is to solve the problems the poor face instead of give it a quick solution. We discussed problems were facing and it was interesting to see how Italy has similar problems as America, such as immigration. We talked mainly about the immigration part of Caritas and their efforts to help people become accustom to Italy after they have made their arrival into Italy. These people are usually from a place of conflict, war, and poverty in other counties. Caritas wants to help everyone get out of these situations and encourages everyone to give. This is interesting because it is very similar to the Singer philosophy of give, give, give, and create a giving culture.
We went to the church of San Francesco today as well and it was amazing to hear of how the his story and the story behind the paintings. The images in the church depicted stories of the Golden Legend. Sounds pretty epic. It was interesting to see the oder of the pictures shown. The pictures told a story, but they were all out of order. The most intriguing parts to me were the how the paintings used the window as the light source and the shadows in the shown were dependent no the window and how the painting relied on the cross out in front to complete its story.
Today we talked about how art gets its value and who gives it value. It is interesting to think about art in this way. I understood that anything could be art, but I never thought about where art get its value. Another topic we talked about was that art can be at first made of functionality but then change later change into art. I think that this concept is present all over Italy with its buildings. They were first made to be be functional but the architecture used creates an art spectacle in itself, along with how the city is set up. The are piece once created for there functionality and while they are still in use, are extremely beautiful. We also talked about how art communicates, and you can kind of see that in the buildings. With a combination of extremely old and more new reconstructions, these structures can send many different messages about the past of Italy and send a message about what Italy can consist of in the future.