HFU Abroad Blog

5/25/16 - 5/26/16 – More Rome!

Daily Update: May 25-26, 2016

Continuing our exciting trip through Rome, we were able to visit quite a few stops along the way. We experienced the Catcombe di Domitilla (the catacombs) along the Appian Way as well as St. Peter's Basilica and the Piazza San Pietro, as well as the Sistine Chapel and the beautiful Trevi Fountain, an iconic 18th century sculpted fountain.


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5/24/16 - 5/25/16 – Rome

Daily Update: May 24-25, 2016

Here are several shots from our time spent in Rome, including the Roman Colosseum as well as many Roman ruins...


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5/20/16 – Even More Florence!

Daily Update: Friday, May 20, 2016

Florence has been such a whirlwind that it's taken three blogs post to tell you about everything!

On our tour, we were able to visit a pair of Medici family locations: their personal chapel and Pitti Palace. It was an unbelievable moment. The Medici's were prominently known for being bankers, as well as creating a political and royal dynasty.

The Medici’s Chapel is located at the Basilica of San Lorenzo, where Michelangelo had a hand in the design of the sacristy inside of the church. The Medici family purchased the Palazzo Pitti, also known as the Pitti Palace, in 1549. It sits on the south side of the Arno River, which was only a short walk from Ponte Vecchio. The trip was well worth it.

Italy is home to some of the most creative and influential individuals in our early history. Though you typically think of names such as Michelangelo and Donatello for their contributions to the arts, you must not forget Galileo for his contributions to astronomy, physics, and philosophy.

Our group was able to visit Galileo's final resting place, where he is buried in the wall of Basilica di Santa Croce, not upstairs with the rest of the graves. His wall grave is in a quiet lower corner of the church where they moved him for concern for his body.

We were also able to view Rossini, Machiavelli, and Michelangelo's graves. Dante's grave is technically an honorarium because he had been exiled and died in Ravenna, which kept his remains.

Basilica di Santa Croce has a total of 19 funeral monuments inside of it, making it well worth the trip to see all of these amazing individuals at their final resting locations.

Our next stop on the tour is to Pisa and Assisi. We can’t wait!!


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5/20/16 – More Florence

Daily Update: Friday, May 20, 2016

Another great day in Florence, as we visited Ponte Vecchio and attended a leather-making demo. Leather making is a renowned Florence craft that was really interesting to watch and learn about.

Ponte Vecchio was really awesome to see from afar, and even better up close. The bridge spans over the Arno River and features shops that were charming and quaint.

Our group was also able to see the wildly popular statue of David. Even though the statue was a replica, it was still incredible to see. The detail that was achieved on such a large piece was amazing and really makes you appreciate the art when you are able to witness it in person. The replica currently sits in the Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signoria. The real statue of David, a fixture of the Piazza for 400 years, was moved to The Galleria dell’Accademia to protect it from the weather and vandalism.


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5/20/16 – Fun in Florence!

Daily Update: Friday, May 20, 2016

I can’t think of a better way to spend a day than traveling through Italy.

We will be spending the next two days in Florence, exploring all the sights and rich history.

In our vast travels, we’ve already crossed 65 of Venice's 455 bridges. It’s been quite an adventure!

During our trip from Venice to Florence, we were welcomed with the sight of the Alps in the background. We were also able to see Dolomites! The scenery was as beautiful as you'd imagine.

Viewing the Duomo was absolutely breathtaking, and could easily be one of the most amazing things I’ve ever witnessed in my whole life. The pictures do not do it justice. Encrusted in pink, green, and white marble, it really is a sight to see. It also sat next to a beautiful bell tower.

Construction on the Duomo started in the 13th century by Arnolfo di Cambio, but the dome wasn't added until 15th century based on Filippo Brunelleschi’s design. It took nearly two centuries to complete!

Touring the Baptistery of San Giovanni was also incredible. Located across from the Duomo, babies would need to be baptized here before being allowed in the church. The architecture of the doors and statues were beautifully ornate, even though they are replicas. The authentic doors are preserved and located in the Duomo museum.

Named after St. John the Baptist, the Baptistery of San Giovanni was constructed in the fourth century. In 1128 the church was officially named the Baptistery of Florence. Known for its incredible doors, Andrea Pisano was commissioned to make the first bronze door in the 14th century. Other artists who worked on the famous doors include Lorenzo Ghiberti, who would later create a bronze apprenticeship program that taught Donatello.

We were also able to see a statue created by Michelangelo. It was his second to last sculpture—though he ultimately destroyed it because he wasn’t pleased with the marble. It was painstakingly restored piece-by-piece to preserve its design.


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5/19/2016 - Glass-Blowing in Venice

Daily Update: Thusday, May 19, 2016

Have you ever watched someone blow glass into a beautiful artifact? I’ve seen it on TV, but seeing it live was a whole different experience. If you ever get the chance to see such a show, I highly recommend it. If you get the chance to view it in Italy, the show is even more special.

Myself, along with the rest of the HFU study abroad group, got to witness a glass-blowing demonstration in Venice, where we saw how to make a vase and even a small horse out of glass! With intricate twists, turns, pulls, and cuts, our master craftsman made beautifully intricate items right in front of our eyes.

Watching the craftsman create these glass items, while constantly sending the burning-hot glass into the furnace, was incredible. It didn’t hurt that he was a bit of a showman, incorporating humor and facts into his performance. It was an awesome experience to witness.

We’re off to Florence next, where we will tour the city, visiting the Piazza della Signoria, Ponte Vecchio, Chiesa di Santa Croce, and Gates of Paradise.

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