Clara in Italy: Rome (aka thank god we’re out of there)

September 8, 2016

The last week has been a bit of a whirlwind! I feel like I haven’t stopped walking since I landed in Rome. I sound like an old woman, but seriously, my knees and ankles and hips are all feeling pretty creaky and sore. All that cobblestone is taking its toll.

Before I get to Rome though, look at this poster in the Dublin airport!


One of my top musicals! The first I ever saw on Broadway when I was fifteen and I cried buckets. It was a good time. Wish I could see it again.

To be honest, I don’t really want to talk about Rome that much. It was certainly very cool, but it was also super draining and crowded. Walking through the Vatican museum was honestly awful. Very hot, very crowded etc. etc. I know the highlights there are The School of Athens and the Sistine chapel ceiling, but here are two of my favorite pieces: the Van Gogh Pieta and a bust of Keokuk.



I know these are terrible pictures but then again, what isn’t a terrible picture in a museum?

We also went to the Borghese Gallery, which had some breathtaking Berninis. I’ve been dying to see those in person since I came across images of them. I know there’s other cool stuff there, but you’re only allowed to stay for two hours and it was terribly stressful to try and rush through a museum full of fabulous Berninis. As I’ve said, photos do no justice, but I guess at least look at this angle of The Abduction of Proserpine:


Especially that hand. How does he do it? That’s solid rock, and I’m still very suspiciously ready to poke it to make absolute sure.

Also look at this delicious coffee:


I generally dislike coffee, but this was tasty as heck.

But then! The highlight of Rome (for me, anyways) was definitely this exhibit though:


An ENTIRE EXHIBIT dedicated to Alphonse Mucha??? The most fun I’ve had in a museum in ages!

Look I know liking Mucha is kind of cliche or whatever, but I couldn’t care less. His linework and figures are absolutely breathtaking. All we ever see are his posters and graphic print art, but his paintings and pastels are also just incredible.


If I could do figures as well as he could, I think I’d be happy. I definitely bought the catalogue and it was less than 30 euro so I’m counting it as a really good win.

Time to leave Rome with a parting photo of a 3-wheeled car in our hotel:


Honestly, how do you even drive these around corners? There’s a great video on Top Gear about that. Do yourself a favor and watch it.

And finally, a small picture of the locks on one of the bridges over the Tiber with an ancient Roman structure in the background. I hope the love charm worked for these people.


Enough from me! Have a good week everyone. Stay determined.

Clara in Italy: The Final Semester

September 1, 2016

So I realize that my abroad experiences aren’t the norm. In my time at UR, this will be perhaps the fourth time I’ve gone out of the country through a school-sponsored program. (Don’t worry, I know I’m unbelievably lucky. It’s pretty ridiculous.)  I’ve so far gone to Russia, Japan, and Denmark for an SSIR trip, a summer language program, and the traditional semester-abroad respectively. I don’t suppose Italy will be too frightening after all that! Some rather terrifying things have happened to me in Europe at this point (mostly of my own making), so I’m looking forward to a calmer experience this time around!

Uh. Famous last words or something?

Packing is, of course, stressful as usual, and I’m struggling to decide which art supplies to bring to an art program overseas. All of them?? Perhaps?? If I had the option, I’d only bring a single suitcase because I’ve discovered that the hassle of lugging things around is almost never worth what’s inside them, but I should probably remember things like laundry and medications and the like. Important.

A little bit about me: I’m short. And I’ve recently discovered the hobby of rotting down animal corpses in my backyard to collect and clean the bones! Here’s a selfie!

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Isn’t that all you need to know, really? A new friend just gifted me a lovely mouse skeleton that’s soaking in peroxide as I type. I’m really excited to see how it’ll turn out and if I can articulate it into a free-standing display. Not gonna lie, I’m pretty hype about the prospect of finding different species in Italy, especially birds that are non-native to the US since those would be legal to possess here in the states.

Here’s my first little collection of bones I found in a pile on my neighbor’s lawn:

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Aren’t they pretty? I suspect they are also a mouse, or perhaps a small squirrel or rat. Some rodent in any case! Fun fact that I had to learn: those bones shown in close-up are apparently called bulla and they’re essentially where the ears connect to the skull. They were a mystery for a while before I asked the internet.

I’m from Rochester, NY, up by Lake Ontario where the snow falls fast and deep, and we have surprisingly fabulous sunsets and skies.



Pictures, of course, never do the sky justice.

In all seriousness, I’m not sure what to expect from Cortona, besides lots of art and massive hills. Since I’ve been working on my own interdisciplinary program, I’ve never had a full-on arts-only semester. This will be the first time I’ll be working in the studio for more than two classes at a time, and I’m uh, probably ready? At the very least, I’m looking forward to producing an actual body of work by the end of this semester before I graduate and am thrown to the real world. Motivation has always been a tricky thing for me, and I’ve found that I produce far more when I have consequences chasing me. (Don’t we all in the end? Sigh.)

Sadly, I don’t think I’ll be making it back to Europe for quite a while after this trip. Those expensive plane tickets and all. So I’m hoping to make the most of what time I do have there! I’m going to try and actually walk all over the city I live in this time, as opposed to the mistakes I made while in Denmark, and hopefully do some travelling on the weekends. Since I have no visa, I’ll have to leave the Schengen area four days after classes end (yikes), so it will be a speedy journey to the UK. At least, that’s the plan. Speaking of which! Mudlarking on the Thames!! Definitely looking forward to finding some 1500s equivalent to cigarette butts along the river. And bones.

On a more sober note, heard about the earthquake this morning, which was a generally distressing way to wake up. We’ve been notified that Cortona was unaffected, but the smaller towns near the epicenter sound like they’ve essentially been razed to the ground. So we’re all still going, but I expect the mood will be perhaps a little graver than our initial expectations. The death toll so far has risen almost 300% since 8am this morning, and I’m hoping it doesn’t go up any more.

To end on a happier note, here is a silly photo of my dog. Stay determined! I’ll see you all in Italy.


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