Camilla Osorio: Italia as Text 2022

Camilla Osorio is a third-year student double majoring in Political Science and International Relations with two certificates in Human Rights & Political Transitions and European & Eurasian Studies. Born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, she has only recently reconnected with her Colombian heritage when she relocated to Miami. With a deep passion for justice and equity, she brings that perspective in her writing and in everything she does. During her free time, Camilla is an avid music listener, curating hyper-specific playlists for any situation.


Rome as Text

“The Highs and Lows of Roma”, by Camilla Osorio of FIU in Roma on May 9-May 23, 2022.

Photographs taken and edited by Camilla Osorio/CC by 4.0

Azienda Ospedaliera San Giovanni Addolorata

The first day after arriving in Rome, I became extremely ill. I was unable to participate in the Roma Walk and the Colosseo class. After being sick for over 30 hours, I ended up visiting something not on our schedule: Azienda Ospedaliera San Giovanni Addolorata, or in English, the San Giovanni Addolorata Hospital. It is one of the largest hospitals in central Italy. The San Giovanni Hospital opened its doors in 1332 and now is a huge block from Piazza di San Giovanni and Via di Villa Fonseca.

I spent about 9 hours in the Covid Isolation Ward (due to a high temperature during intake) and spent time with the nurses in full hazmat suits. Many blood tests, an IV fluid, and a deeply violating covid test later, I found out I had a gastrointestinal infection most likely caused by someone who handled my food without washing their hands. The most positive part of this whole event was finding out that the hospital is almost 700 years old. It’s absolutely bewildering that the hospital has been taking care of people for so long.

Trevi Fountain: As Above, So Below

The Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in Roma and took 30 years to complete (1732-1762). This fountain is world-famous and has appeared in many films like The Lizzie McGuire Movie, Roman Holiday, and Angels and Demons.

Thanks to the help of TikTok, I found the archaeological area of Vicus Caprarius, known as the City of Water. It is a small museum just around the corner of the Trevi Fountain that showcases the Aqua Virgo aqueduct, the fire of Nero, the sack of Alaric, and the siege of the Goths, just 9 meters below ground. The Aqua Virgo aqueduct supplies the water to the Trevi. Supposedly, a virgin in 19 BC helped Roman technicians locate the pure water source, thus giving it its namesake. 

Exploring on a free day, Emma, Pauline, and I were able to see the water that flows from the Trevi Fountain as well as countless pieces of art including a statue of the head of Alexander Helios. The water cooled the museum and the sound lulled over the entire visit. While a short visit, I really enjoyed spending time in a less visited sight of the Trevi. Our day finished by stopping at a nearby restaurant for some carbonara and walking aimlessly down the streets – the perfect end to a free day in the Eternal City.


Pompeii as Text

Pompeii’s Legalized Lupanars”, by Camilla Osorio of FIU on May 16, 2o22.

Photographs taken and edited by Camilla Osorio/CC by 4.0

As the world is still discussing and fighting for sex worker’s right’s, Pompeii had legalized brothels with phallic symbols on the ground pointing you to their direction. The Roman brothel catered to men who seeked either male or female services. The brothels were called the Lupanar, latin for wolf-den because a prostitute was called a Lupa, or she-wolf. Frescos, illustrations of the services offered, lined the top of the brothels to help the client pick out exactly what they wanted. During their heyday, the outdoor of the brothels would have phallic-shaped lamps. When lit, the room was busy. Unlit, then it means a client could walk in. The women who worked in the brothels often worked in archways, public baths, and other areas. They were known to have a certain whistle/call to draw potential client’s attention. 

Mark Twain visited the site five years after its excavation in 1862, remarking on the irony that women at the time were not allowed to visit because of the wall paintings, stating “no pen could have the hardihood to describe the frescos”. How cheeky of him.

The sex workers were usually slaves or lower class people, which meant that they were treated poorly and indifferent to society. They were seen as fulfilling a purpose and outside of that function, they were irrelevant. Sex was clearly part of Pompeii’s daily life, both accepted and seen as natural, but despite this, prostitutes weren’t seen with respect. Sex work created a huge stigma that made them unable to participate in society.

Nearly 2,000 years later, sex work and prostitutes are seen in a negative light and are only socially acknowledged when people need their services. It’s hard to be optimistic about this getting better when there is an increase in the restriction of women’s bodily autonomy and female sexual liberation is still seen as taboo.


Tivoli as Text

Giardini Delle Meraviglie”, by Camilla Osorio of FIU on May 13, 2o22.

Photographs taken and edited by Camilla Osorio/CC by 4.0

Villa d’Este was commissioned by Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este. The Este family were prominent patrons of the arts and scholars of the Renaissance. After trying and failing to become Pope, he was never selected and decided to commission Pirro Ligorio, architect and painter of the Renaissance, to plan his villa and garden. Taking marble and statues from Hadrian’s villa, Ligorio and court architect, Alberto Galvani, began their plan to create the masterpiece.

The villa has been one of the most remarkable depictions of Renaissance culture. Due to its innovation, originality, and brilliance – especially in the fountains and ornaments – the water garden is truly one of the most incomparable pieces of architecture in the 16th century.

The garden includes 51 fountains, 64 waterfalls, and 220 basins; all working without the use of pumps. La Fontana dell’Ovato was one of the first fountains to be included in the garden and includes sea nymphs who are carrying vases where the stream comes out of. Easily the most famous part of the garden, this fountain was fascinating to see for the first time. The Hundred Fountains has nearly 300 sprouts and the wall is beautifully covered with greenery, providing such a semblance of peace while walking through.

Admittedly, I was a big Lizzie McGuire the Movie fan, so I had known of the scenes filmed in front of the Oval Fountain and the Hundred Fountains. Once Professor Bailly had told us that we would see the fountains from the movie, all the energy depleted from my body from the long day came immediately back. I happily struggled with the stairs to be able to marvel at the garden. Spending the day in Hadrian’s Villa and then Villa d’Este was easily one of the best days I’ve had. It’s not difficult to realize why both are World Heritage sites. They call the Villa d’Este’s garden a wonder and I can’t think of a better word to describe it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: