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Memento Vivere: UT Student Explores Italy's Architecture Through Summer Mini-Term

Christina Lulich, an architecture student of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, embarked on a tour of Italy this May through the College's mini-term course, "Photographing Florence." The nearly two-week adventure explored Florence, Rome, and Siena under the direction of lecturer Diane Fox

Describing the activities of the program, Fox said, "the course focused on the basic functions of the camera, relationships between photographer and subject, motion, composition and framing, point of view, and exposing for light and shadow."

She adds: "Could there be a more inspirational environment to begin the process of looking through the lens then Italy?"

Lulich seems to agree. Her beautifully written blog, Memento Vivere, shares some of her experiences as a student of the UT travel abroad program. Here she allows the College of Architecture and Design to share one of her many adventures - her visit to Rome. 

Christina Lulich, May 26, 2012:

Another early morning and long day of walking. We were eating breakfast downstairs by 7:30 and headed to the Colosseum less than an hour later. As our bus neared the Colosseum, I began to recognize places I’d learned about in my architecture history class this past semester, scattered amongst the ruins. I recognized the Temple of Saturn instantly, although I had forgotten it was even located in Rome. The Column of Trajan was easy to spot, but I’d already seen it the day before. The Arch of Constantine was noticeable from afar as well as the Colosseum next to it. When we later walked through the Roman Forum, I recognized the Basilica of Maxentius. The ability to recognize the ruins on the spot and remember some of their significance was amazing. My heart skipped a couple beats from just being in their presence and walking on the same ground that Romans walked during Jesus’s time.

The textures in the Colosseum struck me most. The brick, almost two thousand years old, was worn and weathered, cracking, chipped or broken. The structure was filled with rich stories of nautical battles, gladiator games, sweat beading down the faces of the spectators, death, entertainment, thievery, decay, deterioration, preservation, and education. The Colosseum walls are filled with large indentations and gaps where marble or other adornments were stolen or just relocated for other use. Much of the marble that embellished its structure was reused in the Vatican and in the homes of wealthy families. I mentally replaced what was stolen, laid wood flooring above the originally underground tunnels on the stadium’s bottom level, and filled the floor with sand. I unrolled canvas above parts of the stadium that received the most light from the sweltering sun above, and the crowds cheered around me.
The Roman Forum was similarly provoking, although everything there was in a further state of decay than the Colosseum. Seeing the ruins in person was awesome and hardly describable. There were broken pieces of marble columns scattered about the landscape, their details so worn that many edges were completely smooth. The Temple of Saturn was so much more real than the photos on my history flashcards. I realized as I studied the Forum that when I memorized everything, nothing was real. Each building was a figment of the past, a memory. When I stood in its presence, it was real. Walking through the Forum, we passed the Arch of Titus, the Arch of Septimius Severus, the Basilica of Maxentius, the Temple of Venus, and the Temple of Saturn, among other ruins I didn’t recognize.
Me and Emily at the Pantheon
From the Roman Forum, we walked to the Pantheon, stopping for lunch on the way. We walked past one of Mussolini’s homes and saw the balcony from which he gave the famous speech that brought Italy into World War 2.
The Pantheon was even more moving to me than anything else I’d seen that day. After having used the Pantheon as a sort of minor precedent for my final studio design this semester, there was much to gain from seeing it in person. It felt nothing like I could have imagined from the photos. The interior space was large and circular, the dome wide and tall. The oculus seemed disproportionately large. The square coffers in the dome started large at the dome’s base and gradually became smaller as they neared the huge oculus at the top. I’d never seen coffers so large. I can’t explain why the space was so awesome to stand in, but all I could think of throughout the experience was how badly I wanted to attend service there. My experience in the Pantheon remains superseded only by my experience walking within the Duomo dome. 
We passed through Piazza Navona briefly before heading back to the bus. The four hour bus ride back was a much needed break for my feet, which were blistering and cramping from walking for two days straight. My experience in Rome was incredible, but I will definitely have to return in the future. Two days is just not enough time to experience all that Rome has to offer.

Arch of Constantine


  Temple of Saturn Roman Forum
Column Ruins of Roman Forum
 PantheonPantheon coffering and oculus Pantheon Interior; Raphael's Tomb is in One of the ApsesInteresting Porch Space in Rome  Basilica of Maxentius

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