Jahelly Maxwell: Italia As Text 2022

Roma As Text

Photographs taken and edited by Jahelly MaxwellT/CC by 4.0

My name is Jahelly Maxwell and I am a sophomore majoring in Interdisciplinary Engineering with a secondary field in Industrial Engineering at the Honors College within Florida International University. Every day I become more and more passionate about exploratory research and culturally immersed travel.

La Terra Ride Nei Fiori,” by Jahelly Maxwell of FIU at Rome on May 17, 2022.

Photographs taken and edited by Jahelly Maxwell/CC by 4.0

Rome has been nothing but a dream. The city is a pinnacle of history and culture as seen through its architecture. Its residents are very friendly, welcoming and have a sense of belonging.

The most fascinating architectural design I explored in Rome was the Colosseum. As I strolled through and around the Colosseum, I was struck by how rich the history and beauty of this massive Roman structure was. It astounds me that a structure from 79 AD is still standing and the fact that it only took 10 years to build. The most prominent thought on my mind was whether or not I would have fancied this form of entertainment if I had been a Roman at the time. 

Whether there were innocent or criminal people at the Colosseum, it was a place of amusement. The Flavian family built this circular amphitheater to give back to the community. There were animal sacrifices, persecutions, and gladiator battles here. As each individual fell, the audience would laugh and gamble. It is very interesting to draw parallels with ancient Roman activities and the sports we watch in America today because for example: Football provides us with entertainment. The players are beaten down for a win in the same way that a Gladiator was beaten down to survive. History repeats itself, it’s true!

Another incredible site was the Roman Forum, which was the essence of traditional Roman life. Standing in the midst of all its splendor transported me to another period in time as I gradually outgrew the cautious nature that had devoured me. The forum was the origin of the Republic and civic interactions in all of their forms: political, social, and religious. This region served as the cornerstone for the Roman empire’s whole 500-year development, displaying profoundly ingrained cultural values, beliefs, and customs. To a lesser extent, these Roman traditions are being practiced around the world today. Ancient Rome, like the United States in modern day, was a melting pot of cultures and people. 

Although these Roman monuments are breathtaking and unimaginable, I have to conclude by mentioning my favorite details from this marvelous city; the abundant amount of flower shops and the beautiful public water fountains that are spread out throughout the city.  As I wandered the streets of Rome on a free day, a local florist said La Terra Ride Nei Fiori.” I went on Google Translate and discovered that it is an Italian phrase that, in English, translates to “The Earth Laughs in Flowers.” My heart completely melted. Genuinely, I think that was my favorite memory of Rome. The quote is just so beautiful it brought me absolute joy, I have yet to stop thinking about it.

Tívoli As Text

Temple of Venus,” by Jahelly Maxwell of FIU at Tivoli on May 13, 2022.

Photographs taken and edited by Jahelly Maxwell/CC by 4.0

As a major nature nerd and lover of the outdoors, I felt extremely connected to the town of Tivoli. Walking through Hadrian’s Villa, Villa D’Este and Villa Gregoriana gave me a feeling of peace and serenity.

Tívoli had a strong philosophical, sexual, and environmental background. The first villa we visited, Villa  of Adriana, also known as Hadrian’s Villa, was dedicated to philosophers and intellectuals, whereas the second, Villa D’Este, focused on Italian sexuality. The last villa, Villa Gregoriana, was more in tune with nature and its wonders.

One aspect that Tívoli, like other Romans, considered was women’s body image and beauty. The Temple of Venus in the Villa of Adriana, depicted a lady, most likely fresh from a bath, in her most pure state. The image of women accurately reflects their perceptions of their own beauty, sexiness, and purity. This goes against popular perceptions of women’s bodies in the United States nowadays. As a woman, I feel compelled to examine every fault in my own body. Body image has become a negative concept that has made women, over the years, feel inferior.

As our class is predominantly female, and Mother’s Day just having rolled the corner, we realize how incredible our bodies are. It was the most beautiful and empowering experience to be in the presence of the Temple of Venus with all the extraordinary women in our class. Knowing that we will spend the rest of the month exploring the fascinating sights Italy is home to will be a dream come true. 

Pompeii As Text

Little New York,” by Jahelly Maxwell of FIU at Pompeii on May 14, 2022.

Photographs taken and edited by Jahelly Maxwell/CC by 4.0

As soon as I stepped into Pompeii with our magnificent tour guide Antonio, I was compelled to learn more about the city. What was so exceptional about this Roman city is how incredibly advanced the people were. 

Unfortunately on the 24th of August 79 AD, the sky in Pompeii gradually darkened from blue to black. People were perplexed and unsure of what was happening. Mount Vesuvius was erupting. The Romans were terrified when lava rocks began to rain from the sky. They began to abandon their homes and whole lifestyles. Others were not so fortunate and had to stay. Approximately 2,000 to 3,000 people died as a result of Mount Vesuvius’ eruption.

It’s quite a shame because these people were extremely ahead of their time. Pompeii was founded in 80 BC and used civil engineering mechanisms that are fundamental aspects of the world in modern day. Our tour guide Antonio told the class that the city of Pompeii reminds him of New York City. It reminds him of New York because it was one of the first towns that used the traditional gridded plan; avenues and streets. The main avenue, Cardo Maximus, ran from North to South, and the main street, Decumanus Maximus,crosses perpendicularly running from East to West. 

Interestingly enough, the word “Cardo” comes from the word “cardio” which means the main artery in the body from North to South. Meanwhile “Decumanus” stems from the Greek word “deca” meaning the number 10. The Romans used the roman numerals to depict the number 10 with an X, which to this day represents the intersection of streets! Another cool fact is that the Romans used marble bits on their roads to serve as reflectors, just like the ones we use on highways, streets and roads today. They were honestly ahead of their time.

I chose the title for Pompeii’s reflection to be “Little New York,” because I found it funny that in New York City there is a place called “Little Italy,” and now that I am actually in Italy, I am finding references that trace back to the States. Antonio was not only an excellent tour guide, he blew my mind with the knowledge these ancient Romans were able to garner.

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