Daniella Grace Rubio is a second-year student pursuing a double degree in Political Science and Criminal Justice. Passionate about politics and the law, she aspires to work in D.C. and has already involved herself in various political campaigns, law firms, and programs like the Senate Page Program. After graduating with both majors, she would like to continue her studies and attend Law School, where she would then work her way up to pursue her dream career of becoming a judge. Her primary hobbies have included reading, hiking, cooking, and boating. During her time at F.I.U., Daniella has already integrated into fraternities like Phi Alpha Delta and honor societies such as P.A.T.H. Currently enrolled in J.W. Bailly’s Italy Study Abroad, she is looking forward to learning about Italy’s omnipresent influence on art and culture and is excited to travel to Europe for her first time.
Roma As Text
“The Roman Superpower”
by Daniella Rubio of FIU at Rome, 19, May 2022
The Ancient Romans put so much effort and dedication into building the strong empire that it once was. And while they have had many traditions and activities that have been of influence, what captivated me about them is their eagerness to build monuments to commemorate their victories and accomplishments. One area in Rome that is filled with these types of monuments is the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.
While many of the monuments in these locations are spectacular, the ones that interested me the most are the Roman Triumphant arches. Once omnipresent throughout Rome’s city, today, only a few still stand. That being said, the remaining arches surrounding the Forum and Colosseum continue to be a reminder of the city’s accomplishments and have become an architectural inspiration for other countries.
The three most influential arches standing today within the Roman Forum are the Arches of Constantine, Titus, and Severus. The arch of Constantine was dedicated to the Emporer Constantine by the Senate of Rome after he successfully defeated his rival, Maxentius, and legalized Christianity. While there are no depictions of the battle between the two along with no biblical references, the arch has become a reminder to many Christians that without Constantines’ victory, Christianity would have never taken root within the Roman Empire and, essentially, within the rest of the world. The second monument found within the forum, the Arch of Titus, was built after the emperor’s death. While there are many references to the emperor’s Godliness and divinity after his passing, what really stands out is the arches story. Throughout the arch, we are able to see Titus’s success in capturing Jerusalem and how sacking and looting the city helped fund many other monuments, such as the Colosseum. Prior to the establishment of Isreal, many of the Jews living within Rome had refused to walk through this arch. The last arch seen within the Roman Forum is the Arch of Severus. Compared to the arches of Constantine and Titus, this monument does not incorporate many architectural designs. That being said, for many living within Ancient Rome, this arch is deemed as dominator due to Severus’s success in the Parthian’s submission along with integrating most of Syria into Rome.
While I found all three of the victory arches to be magnificent, the one that stuck with me the most had to be the Arch of Constantine. In addition to being the largest and the most decorated with statues and reliefs, the message behind it has stuck with me the most due to my Christian background. That being said, all three of these arches have helped me comprehend the influence Roman monuments have had on countries like the US, along with putting into perspective the superpower that Ancient Rome once was.
Pompeii As Text
“The Buried City”
by Daniella Rubio of FIU at Pompeii, 19, May 2022
Frozen in time, Pompeii is one of Italy’s most significant and historical cities. By walking through its roads, one is able to immerse themselves in the cultures and lifestyles of its citizens. And through a fantastic tour guide, like Antonio, you are given a better understanding of the incident that occurred along with the city’s advancements that have been an influence on a global scale.
One of my favorite moments in this excursion had to be the retelling of the fall of Pompeii. On August 24th, 79 AD, the great city of Pompeii was suddenly wrapped in a black sky. Mount Vesuvius erupted, and ash and toxic gas began to cover the advanced city. Deemed cursed by the gods, the Romans avoided the area, and many residents were able to flee; however, the city and over 2000 victims were buried and abandoned for more than 1500 years.
While I find that the story of Pompeii is one that is worth retelling, was stuck to me the most is learning about the city’s advancements and influences on things such as roads, architecture, and plumbing. For roads, some practices that I found interesting were the usage of marble in between stones to see better at night and large stepping stones that were used to avoid mud and water while also allowing chariots to pass through. When it came to the structuring of households, it was intriguing to see how Pompeiians would put a small hole in the roof along with a well on the floor to collect rainwater. Additionally, I found the usage of sliding doors for many of the stores within the city to be a game-changer. Lastly, I found that the plumbing within the city was ahead of its time. Through the usage of pipes throughout the city and atriums, Pompeiians could have restrooms for the public and even on the second floor.
As a history buff, visiting Pompeii had to be one of my favorite excursions thus far. Learning about the citizen’s lifestyles and inventions regarding the roads kind of reminded me of some of the major cities in the US, such as New York. If it weren’t for the incident that occurred on August 24th, 79 AD, it makes you wonder how much more advanced the world could have been if this buried city was never punished by the gods.
Assisi As Text
“Patron Saint of Earth”
by Daniella Rubio of FIU at Assisi, 24, May 2022
From the moment we walked into the little hill town called Assisi, I instantly fell in love. Whether it was due to the beautiful views, the omnipresent flowers, or the pink walls and homes, this medieval-like town was a place that I never wanted to leave. And while I found the architecture and scenery to be stunning, what I really enjoyed about this excursion was learning about the famous patron saint of Italy, Saint Francis.
Derived from a rich family, Francis had a carefree life with a passion for a military career. However, after having dreams of becoming a chivalrous knight for man, Francis underwent a spiritual transformation and sought to become a knight for God. Giving away all of his materialistic items, Francis focused on living a life of poverty and even set himself on a pilgrimage to live amongst the poor in front of St. Peter’s basilica. After gaining a small following and even visions from Christ to rebuild the church, Francis went before Pope Innocent III regarding his mission, which the pope agreed to after revealing that he too had the same visions. Together, the Pope and Francis founded a Franciscan order that has and continues to play a huge role in contemporary Christianity
While I enjoyed learning about the narrative of St. Francis, what I found most intriguing is the legacy it has on many cities and countries. One location, in particular, is North America. According to the lecture, many of the monks and friars of the Franciscan order relocated to California in the 1700s and helped establish many of the major cities within the state, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Santa Clara. Another location influenced by the Franciscan order was the French Colonies within Canada. After doing further research, I learned that many of the Franciscans participated in a Recollect Reform and assisted in establishing Trois-Rivieres and Montreal, which are now major cities within the province of Quebec.
While his order assisted in the establishment of various cities and countries, what I found to be the most important was his influence on the Christian and political world. By living a life of poverty, St. Francis expressed his devotion and loyalty to God, which has inspired many within the church to become more passionate about the faith and live out the Gospel. One person, in particular, is the current head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, who named himself after St. Francis of Assisi. When it comes to a Christian’s view on the political world, St. Francis takes center stage. Due to his love for the environment and beliefs that all inhabitants of the earth are equal, his ideas have been deemed the standard and have helped push for more environmental and social reform.
In the end, St. Francis’s passion and devotion to God have made him the Patron Saint of Italy. However, for many others like myself, St. Francis should also be deemed the Earth’s Patron Saint.
Source: “History of the Franciscans OFM in the US.” US Franciscans, https://usfranciscans.org/home/history/?amp. Accessed 24 May 2022.
Firenze as Text
by Daniella Rubio of FIU at Firenze, 26, May 2022
While I found many of the excursions within Firenze to be excellent, the one that stuck with me the most had to be the Medici chapel. As mentioned in the lecture, this chapel was built as an extension during the 15th century and was dedicated to the Medici family, who played a prominent role throughout Firenze’s history. When entering the chapel, you become overwhelmed with the omnipresent symbol of the Medici and various patterns made with multicolor marble. And although the symbols and architecture within the church are accurate reflections of the family’s richness and favor towards art, what really intrigued me the most about the chapel had to be Michaelangelo’s sculptures.
The first sculpture by Michaelangelo that I enjoyed was Madonna and Child. Prior to this excursion, I was not aware of the creation of this piece and was only familiar with Michaelangelo’s other famous religious sculpture, the Pieta. That being said, I have to say that this piece was the most emotional when seen in person due to the artist’s depiction of Mary. For the Pieta, I found that Mary’s sorrow to be expected due to the loss of her son. For the Madonna and Son, however, her son is depicted as alive and well, and yet she is still melancholy. I found this sadness to be powerful not because it foreshadowed the future fate of Christ but because the artist made it appear as if she knew her son was going to die and that her moments with him were temporary.
The second piece by Michaelangelo that I appreciated was the Day and Night. As seen in the piece, the woman appears to fall asleep, and the man is beginning to wake up. These figures are meant to represent night (the woman) and day (the man). The piece is meant to depict a continuous cycle of time. And while the sculpture reflects a beautiful allegory of Day and Night, what I enjoyed the most about the piece is its context. Throughout his time creating this piece, Michaelangelo was in old age and was entering the end of his life. While reflecting on all of the pieces he created, he slowly began to fall into a depressive state due to him believing that all of his actions and life choices were meaningless. As a result, Michaelangelo started to become more religious. I found this piece to be crucial because it not only reflects on us how continuous and eternal time is but also reveals the artist’s thought process.
Prior to visiting Firenze, I always assumed the Renaissance to be a period of advanced artist techniques and a boom in Christian imagery. However, after immersing myself in the city and visiting places such as the Medici chapel, I was able to discover what truly made the Renaissance special. Through various pieces and sculptures, such as the ones mentioned earlier, I learned that the Renaissance was meant to reveal a more human approach to life and more of a range of human emotions.
Siena as Text
“The Medieval City”
by Daniella Rubio of FIU at Siena, 27, May 2022
Siena was one of my favorite excursions by far. Whether it was due to its multiple flags, the relaxing plaza, or the amazing sandwiches. The medieval city frozen in time is one that I will always cherish. And while the factors mentioned earlier play a huge contribution to this, what really makes Siena unforgettable is its beautiful architecture in places such as the Siena Cathedral.
As mentioned in the lecture, the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, or the Siena Cathedral for short, is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city. Built in the 12th century, the Cathedral shows various pieces of Gothic Architecture and even introduces a new form of art called Romanesque. When walking into the church, It almost felt as if I was entering into an illusion due to the never-ending black and white stripes. I also found it interesting how the art within the church was not only limited to the ceilings and walls but also covered the entire floor through multiple mosaics. In the end, while I found the art and architecture within the church to be overwhelming, I did, however, see it as a reflection of the ambitions and power Siena once had in medieval times.
While I was able to learn a lot about new art styles and architecture, what I enjoyed the most about the Siena cathedral was how it is a reflection of the rivalry between Siena and Firenze. Throughout the church, you are able to find many not-so-subtle references to their competition. One example could be seen in one of the mosaics found on the far left of the church, which showed Siena defeating Firenze in war. Additionally, the church still contains the flag poles that played a huge role in Firenze’s defeat.
To conclude, while I enjoyed immersing myself in the architecture and culture of Siena, I was not really a fan of the interior art within the Siena Cathedral. That being said, the story of the rivalry between Firenze and Siena, along with the exterior of the Cathedral, really made me appreciate my time in this medieval city.
Cinque Terre as Text
“Towns on Cliffs”
by Daniella Rubio of FIU at Cinque Terre, 3, June 2022
Cinque Terre has to be one of my favorite places in Italy. Located on the coast of the Ligurian region, this area is more than just beaches and cliffs. By visiting the towns of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore, you are able to immerse yourself in a unique culture along with discovering a hidden world untouched by modern industrialization.
Throughout the excursion, I learned about the history of Cinque Terre and the vital role it played for the Roman Empire due to its strategic location near the Mediterranean. After further research, I learned that this attracted many raiders and later resulted in the local’s relocation to the mountains after being overrun by the Saracens. As time passed, a Tuscan family ousted these invaders and allowed the villagers to return to the coast and build solidified homes and advance their defense systems for future raiders such as pirates. Today, these homes and various watch towers have stood the test of time and have given visitors like myself an opportunity to explore their advancements and what has deemed them a UNESCO world heritage site.
While I enjoyed all five towns throughout my visit to Cinque Terre, the one that I found the most memorable was Manarola. During my time in this town, I was always encouraged to do and try crazy things that I could never picture myself doing in Miami, such as trying octopus sandwiches, mandarinitas, and even cliff jumping. In addition to immersing myself in the culture of Manarola, I found the environment and views in this town to be breathtaking. Some of the best views of the village had to be on the hike from Corniglia to Manarola. And while this hike to the town had to be the hardest by far, it was the most worth it. Once I reached the top of the mountain, I was able to see most of the villages of Cinque Terre along with interacting with the wildlife within the environment.
The visit to cinque Terre had to be the most rewarding. While, like the other places, I was able to learn about the history of the location and even immerse myself in their cultures, what made this trip the most memorable was how happy and relaxed it made me. Prior to the visit, I was only focused on preparing myself for the intense hike, but once it was completed, I found it to be the most fulfilling and even inspired me to pursue more hiking activities. In the end, the way in which this hidden gem embraced the environment along with the kindness of the locals made it very difficult for me to leave.
Cinqueterre-travel.com – history. (n.d.). Retrieved June 3, 2022, from https://cinqueterre-travel.com/information/history/
Venezia As Text
“The Tilted Church”
by Daniella Rubio of FIU at Venezia, 6, June 2022
Our last stop in Italy was Venice. And While it was not the “saved best for last,” when compared to the other cities, Venice was the most unique. Whether it was due to the travel by boat, the carnival, or the maze-like streets, Venice is a city that knows how to stand out.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, people from the mainland were constantly getting overrun by barbarians. Consequently, they decided to relocate to a lagoon where they would build a city with only pine trees as its foundation. And while the city of Venice was now protected from the barbarians, the people needed to adjust to the usage of boats for trade with the mainland. As a result, Venice turned into a city of avid sailors which later established it as the trading center of Europe. Later on, other factors such as capitalism, heathenism, and multiculturalism resulted in the city becoming dominant in Italy.
One place within Venice that stood out to me and even embodied many of the factors that gave Venice authority is the San Marco Basilica. After its completion, this Church became dedicated to St. Mark, one of the apostles of Christ, whose body is believed to reside within the Church. One of the most interesting things about the Basilica of San Marco is its architecture. Hinting toward the multiculturalism in Venice, the Church includes various Islamic components such as an onion dome and mosaics. To display their success under capitalism, the Church’s interior is gold-plated and even shows off a Pala D’oro, which is comprised of precious stones. Lastly, there are also some hints of heathenism within the Church. While the basilica of San Marco is catholic, zodiac symbols could be found outside and within the Church.
Out of all the cities visited and inhabited. The layout of Venice had to be the most unique. The uneven floors, slanted buildings, and maze-like alleyways made things seem disoriented and even caused me to experience some vertigo. That being said, I really enjoyed this city due to its familiarity. With the constant boats, omnipresent humidity, and it being man-made, Venice reminded me a lot of Miami, and in a weird way, it kind of cured some of my homesickness.