Monthly Archives: November 2009
Last week Perugia was full of families in town to celebrate Thanksgiving with their students studying at Umbra. Mothers brought entire suitcases full of supplies to prepare a proper American holiday meal, students ordered turkeys from the local butcher weeks in advance, and there was even leftover pumpkin pie at school on Sunday free for the taking! Today everyone is back in class and preparing for finals, which are just around the corner. The next three weeks will be full of end-of-the-semester activities, including a literary reading, the final Tandem meeting, and the student art show. Umbra will have extended hours starting next Wednesday to allow everyone enough time to prepare for finals. Good luck and don’t forget to make the most of your last several weeks in Perugia!
The Umbra Institute has announced an exciting new initiative: in collaboration with TripFilms.com, the Institute will be promoting a contest for the best films about travel to Perugia. TripFilms has a unique website where thousands of travelers (or in this case, “temporary citizens” of Perugia) post videos about the streets they live on, where they shop, what they do for fun, where they eat your favorite meals, as well as weekend excursions. Instead of simply reading a standard guidebook about Perugia, potential visitors (and students) can see through the eyes of people that have already been and lived here.
The contest was organized by Umbra and an alum, Kelley Farro, who is now a travel video producer with TripFilms. The grand prize is an iPod Nano, and there are several cash prizes and Amazon gift certificates as well. The contest begins January 4th, 2010, and is open not only to current students but alumni as well. All are encouraged to participate — when you upload, include the line in the description “Umbra Institute Student Travel Video Submission.” For more information email Kelley AT tripfilms DOT com with your questions.
Last Thursday, Umbra students learned how to create UNICEF Pigotta rag dolls that give hope for developing countries. A Pigotta is a unique doll because if it is “adopted” it can save a child as the proceeds go to providing the child with a complete vaccine kit protecting them against deadly diseases. Students gathered for the first time to meet welcoming volunteers in their fresco decorated office. The UNICEF ladies’ warm smiles and maternal patience guided the students’ hands while sewing and filling dolls’ bodies with cotton. Red and golden fabric, vivid enthusiasm, veil ribbon and true devotion were just some of the ingredients of that particular evening.
UNICEF volunteers and students are already looking forward for next week’s meeting when tiny dresses will be made and ID cards will be manufactured for each of the completed dolls.
This past weekend, Professor Adrian Hoch led a group of twenty students from her Leonardo da Vinci course on a comprehensive trip through Florence and Milan, visiting sites where Leonardo lived and found inspiration. Friday morning students arrived in Florence–where Leonardo was born and begin his artistic career as an apprentice in Verocchio’s workshop–and set out directly for the Uffizi Gallery. After lunch students stepped into the Palazzo Vecchio, the imposing town hall with enormous frescoes commissioned from Leonardo, Michelangelo, and other Renaissance-era masters. Currently there is even a debate about the possibility that an original work by Leonardo remains embedded in the wall behind another fresco later painted by Vasari.
After exploring Leonardo’s birthplace the students headed to Milan, where the artist lived and worked for over a decade at the Sforza Castle in the court of Ludovico Sforza. Professor Hoch brought students to see the Last Supper, one of the most well-known frescos in history that has miraculously withstood wartime bombing and an unsuccessful experimental painting technique. Finally, students had the chance to see Leonardo’s Codice Atlantico, the collection of his original writings and drawings that is usually kept under lock and key for preservation. This weekend however the Codice was on special display in two locations at Santa Maria delle Grazie and the Biblioteca Ambrosiana. Next weekend students in Professor Bevagna’s Roman Empire course are off to Rome!
Last night Umbra students, staff, and faculty celebrated San Martino (see previous post for a description of this central Umbrian holiday). Umbra alum Dan Bauer took care of the chestnut roasting while the guests introduced each other at a little vineyard in the center of Perugia.
This party was special not only because it was an opportunity for students to get right into Italian culture but also because they could become part of the Perugia family. Especially noteworthy was the recitation of the poem “San Martino” by locals from the nearby town of San Martino in Campo. See both the original and the translation here – but remember that it has a better effect under fourteenth-century arches, with chestnuts in a pan and Italian Novello!
It is always our hope that Umbra students integrate the experiences of a semester abroad with their culminating senior year upon return at their American home institution.
Anyone can read Machiavelli’s words on how to rule a state, but re-evoking Renaissance tastes at the table is quite another thing. This weekend Professor Simon Young’s “History of Food and Culture In Italy” class was able to do just. Professor Young, a longtime resident of Florence, took the students to the resturant “La Pentola d’Oro” (the Golden Pot), famous for its
dishes based on orginal Renaissance recipes.
On the menu were pork in a sweet and sour sauce and beef in chocolate — tastes that are odd mixes for us but were typical in the late 1400s. A good time was had by all, mixing learning with eating!
The Food Cultures class with Professor Simon Young on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. Thanks to Kendall Cassidy from Northeastern for the photo!
Yesterday afternoon students in Professor Bill Pettit’s Fresco Painting courses put down the brushes and went to the Basilica of San Francesco in nearby Assisi. Despite some missed train confusion — a regular occurence while navigating Italy’s public transportation networks — the students were able to spend several hours at the Basilica studying the world-famous frescoes for both content and technique.
Can’t wait to see everyone’s finished works next month at the Umbra Art Show!