Camilla Osorio: Grand Tour 2022

An Ephemeral Summer in Italia

Spending the last month in Italy was beyond anything I had ever experienced before. The days were long and rewarding yet the month went by before our eyes. The relationships made, the UNESCO sites visited, and the miles we trekked daily are some of the many highlights that I will cherish whenever I look back to this class. Picking some of my most memorable locations that I explored in my neighborhood, I explain what makes these places so special and their importance in their city. It was an enchanting summer in Italy and it left an indelible impression on me. 

Vicus Caprarius, The City of Water

Arguably, other than roadways and major military conquests, the harnessing and utilization of water was probably Roma’s greatest achievement. It was one of the earliest examples where a governmental system benefited all levels of society. The city had lush gardens and intricate fountains, the citizens regularly utilized public baths, and running water was available to their homes; they even had proper sewage. Rome had mastered the art of taking the natural and making it artificial, allowing its population of about half a million to a million people to have water. The first aqueduct was built in 312 BC and over the next five centuries, more would be built. The city of Rome only needed one aqueduct to survive–they had eleven. This overconsumption of water allowed everyone to have access to water and kept the city clean. 

It’s important to note that Rome did not invent using aqueducts. The Greeks, Egyptians, and Assyrians had used aqueducts prior to the Romans but what made the Romans stand apart was their architecture and their ability to create bridges and archways to transport gallons of water across less populated areas such as valleys. Even more incredible is that nearly 2,000 years later, some are still in operation today. Roman aqueducts are not exclusive to Rome. Because of how much land the Romans had conquered, their empire expanded throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia so remnants of their aqueducts are spread across the world. It’s so amazing to be able to see the long-standing effects Rome had in its empire and spread so vastly across the globe.

Bringing this back to Rome, I’m focusing on the Acqua Vergine (Aqua Virgo), one of the main Roman aqueducts. According to legend, this aqueduct gained its name because Roman soldiers asked a young girl for water and she led the men to the springs that eventually supplied the aqueduct. It was finished in 19 BC during the Augustus empire. The aqueduct was restored during the Renaissance by Pope Nicholas V, which gave water to two magnificent pieces: the Trevi Fountain and the fountains in the Piazza del Popolo. During my free day, I explored the Trevi Fountain and underneath the Trevi, in a lesser known spot. Vicus Caprarius is an ancient apartment complex underneath the Trevi and was only discovered less than thirty years ago. Visiting the City of Water you can view the homes of the upper-class that also includes artifacts like mosaic tiles, coins, sculptures, and African pottery. But what makes this spot so special and memorable for me was that there is water that still goes through it and leads its way to the Trevi. It was a short experience, my group and I did not spend more than maybe 25 minutes at the attraction but for four euros, it was a unique experience just a couple meters below all the tourists and the blazing summer sun.

The Romans had created something unique and everlasting with the aqueducts. To be able to provide its citizens with pure water is something that the United States still cannot offer, just look at Flint, Michigan who is going through its sixth straight year of dangerous levels of lead in its water. As much as the United States takes inspiration from the Romans, free clean water is something that the country needs to take more seriously as water should be a right, not a privilege.

Smells like Florentine Spirit

Firenze has much to offer those who visit: jewelry stores in Ponte Vecchio, breathtaking art in the Uffizi Gallery, personalized leather at the Scuola del Cuoio and I could go on and on. Truthfully, a week in Firenze was not long enough for me and I already am thinking of my return to the magical city. During our free weekend, I spent the day alone and wandering the entirety of the city. No maps and no destination allowed me to stumble into places that I would’ve never seen if I was following a map. After making it to my neighborhood, I walked to the extraordinary Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, just moments away from the train station. Unfortunately, I was pagan-dressed and was only able to observe from the outside but the facade of the building was truly gorgeous. 

Walking just around the corner, I bumped into the oldest pharmacy in the world, the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. They have been creating fragrances, remedies, and herbal products since 1221, over eight-hundred years. The story of the creation of the pharmacy has links to the history of the basilica. In 1221, Dominican friars came to Firenze and founded a church. At the time, it was common for monasteries to have gardens that have herbs that were used to create medicinal balms and treatments; they even used rose water to fight the plague in the 14th century. Word of the treatments spread and people came to the Dominican friars for treatment.

The main part of the store was originally the Chapel of San Niccolò by a wealthy merchant as thanks for being treated by the friars. There is a piece of history throughout the entire store, even royal history. When Cathrine de Medici was engaged to Henry II, the King of France, she asked the friars to create a perfume that would entrance Henry. The perfume was originally called “Acqua della Regina” (The Queen’s Water), which was loved in the French royal courts and I was able to try some on, as it is still sold today. Two centuries later and the pharmacy was making some of the most in demand products and the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica was officially founded in 1612.

What’s really unique and exciting to hear is that they perfected and preserved the formulas, techniques, and traditions and some are still being used today. When I visited the pharmacy, there were candles, soaps, home scents, skincare, and even a tea room where you can sample tea in absolute luxury. The entrance is free and that’s about all I could afford in the store. Everything is easily over one hundred euros and this broke college student was only able to smell everything, take a couple pictures, and hope she’s able to come back with more money. It’s wonderful to see the longevity of this pharmacy, still making its intoxicating oils and perfumes. People come thousands of miles from to purchase these products and see the incredible history within the pharmacy’s walls and for good reason.

Il Castello Sul Mare

Cinque Terre felt like an absolute dream. Because we were in larger cities, it hadn’t truly felt like summer to me because I haven’t been by a beach. Spending summers at the beach is a staple to me and it wasn’t until we looked out of the train window and saw the sparkling Mediterranean Sea that I felt the summer had truly begun. Watching the beach pebbles on the sun-drenched coast-line gave me a much needed second wind and excited to explore the lands. 

After the lecture walk was over and I climbed two mountains (two more than I thought I could do), I caught a train to Riomaggiore to be able to explore my town. When I arrived, I walked through a pedestrian tunnel, which runs beside the trains. You could hear their rumbling and feel the tremors as they passed. Walking up the mountain on Via Colombo, we saw numerous bars, restaurants, gift-shops, and gelaterias. Making it up the mountain and we see a sign for Il Castello. Following the sign, we are met with an extraordinary view of the Mediterranean, the town of Riomaggiore below, and a glimpse of the town of Manarola next door. The castle has a foundation in the shape of a quadrilateral and on top it has small circular towers and was originally used for defensive purposes from the constant raids by pirates. The castle was built in 1260 by the Marquises of Turcotti, lord of a village called Riplata. Later the castle was finished by the Republic of Genoa under the rule of Niccolò Fieschi. After the arrival of Napoleon in the 1800’s, the townspeople believed that the dead should not be laid to rest inside the town and the castle became a cemetery. In the early 20th century, the castle was repurposed as an educational center.

The first viewpoint is the villages with all their colorful houses. You see residents hanging up laundry on the clothesline, washing dishes with an open window, and tending to their garden, which the residents take great pride in. It’s nice to see how slowed down life is compared to the United States, it’s truly a great change in pace. Watching the beach goers, gelato buyers, and the countless narrow stairs from the castle was amazing. Life in Cinque Terre seems unlike any other. It’s such a blessing to be able to see how other people live in a different part of the world.

The Lion, Magis, and the Moors

San Marco is one of the six districts in Venezia and it’s located in the center. It is the smallest district but it is the most tourist-drawing because of many iconic sites located within. Built in the 9th century as a small square and becoming a small meeting area. Its main attractions are the Saint Mark’s Basilica, a 15th century Byzantine church; the Marciana Library, one of the earliest surviving public libraries; and of course the San Marco Square, where fun fact: executions took place until the middle of the 18th century.

One of the landmarks that stood out to me the most was the Clock Tower in San Marco Square, located at the end of the Procuratie Vecchie. The clock tower was strategically placed so that it would be visible from the water in order for people to see Venezia’s wealth and power. The clock tower is a beautiful site to see. At the top of the tower are two large bronze statues, who hit the bell on the hour. To symbolize the passage of time, one of the statues is old and the other young. The men are wearing sheepskins so they are assumed to be shepherds and known as ‘the Moors’ because of the dark surface of the bronze caused by oxidation after many centuries. Directly below this is a sculpture of the winged Lion of San Marco with a blue and gold-starred background. Below the statue and above the clock is a Madonna and child statue with two large panels on either side displaying the hour on the left in Roman numerals and minutes on the right in Arabic numbers. Something I did not see but found interesting during my research was the three Magi, led by a trumpet-playing angel. This only occurs twice a year during Epiphany (Jan. 6) and Ascension Day (the Thursday 40 days after Easter). They pass and bow to the Madonna before returning inside the tower.

What stood out to me was the zodiac in gold on the clock itself. In the dead center of the clock is the earth and the moon to the upper right. The sun is the pointer that goes around the clock and there are stars all over the background. It was truly a captivating sight.


I have gained immeasurable knowledge and connections throughout this experience. I have already found myself revisiting the trip through pictures and bothering everyone with stories of events that happened in class. I know that being able to come back would give me a completely different experience, and I cherish the uniqueness of being able to come to a new country with a class and truly live in the cities. I’m so grateful for this and I know that leaving Italy was not a good-bye, but see you later. 

Ti voglio bene Italia, catch you on the flip slide!

Works Cited

Betz, Eric. “Aqueducts: How Ancient Rome Brought Water to Its People.” Discover Magazine, Discover Magazine, 26 Oct. 2020,

“Clock Tower – Building and History.” Torre Dell’Orologio, 30 July 2021,

Karmon, David. Restoring the Ancient Water Supply System in Renaissance Rome. Aug. 2005,

“Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica Di Santa Maria Novella Story.” Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica Di Santa Maria Novella,“Riomaggiore, the Southern Entrance into Cinque Terre.” Discover Tuscany – Fall in Love with Tuscany, Italy!,

Camilla Osorio: Italia America 2022

What Not to Wear: Regulating Women’s Dress Since 63 BC

Women cannot partake of magistracies, priesthoods, triumphs, badges of office, gifts, or spoils of war; elegance, finery, and beautiful clothes are women’s badges, in these they find joy and take pride, this our forebears called the women’s world

Livy, History of Rome (34.5)

This has been going on for millennia. Throughout history, women have been subjected to a multitude of rules and expectations that tell them what is right and wrong and what they can and cannot wear. From modern examples, it’s clear that society is still obsessed with what women wear.

Women in Ancient Rome: Who What Wear

Just like in modern society, race, class, religion, and sexuality had an influence on Roman society and all of those systems shaped clothing and fashion. Wealth and the clothing one could buy with said wealth shaped the social classes and hierarchies that are still present in the United States and around the world. Roman women were supposed to be presentable and wear clothes that correspond with their social status: matrona, lower class, freedwoman, or slave.

Statues like The Herculaneum Woman,  recovered from Herculaneum (Near Naples) give an idea of how the average wealthy Roman woman would have dressed.

It is important to note the limitations that statues provide. Statues are often depictions of wealthier women, since they’re the ones who can afford to pay for such art. This means that lower class women and children and their clothing are not represented in art.

Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Another thing to note is that clothing on statues was not always accurate. On some art that depicts those who have died, they would dress a woman like a goddess, not with her everyday attire in order to symbolize her passing onto the ‘divine realm’ (Harlow 2012).

Rome developed their societal perspective on femininity and “a good woman” through the development of the roles women were expected to complete, if they didn’t fulfill their role, they weren’t considered a woman to a certain extent (Olson 2006). Women in the Roman empire had to know how to sew and make clothes for their entire families. Although there is a limited amount of evidence of everyday women’s lives at that time, there is a lot of evidence of what their roles were and how limited they really were. Women could not vote, have a position in government, or be recruited to the military. Women’s greatest attainment was motherhood (i.e. matrona): bearing multiple children and taking care of the house. Being a matrona was the most reputable and sought-after role for women (Olson 2008). Matronae wore a garment called the stola, the opposite of a man’s toga. The long sleeveless dress was worn over a tunic and a palla, a long shawl and was usually made out of wool (McElduff 2018). 

This is a marble statue of Empress Faustina the Younger, Roman Empress and wife to her maternal cousin Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

She is located in Glyptoteket Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark. She is depicted wearing a palla with a stola underneath.

Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Outside of domestic life, women who were prostitutes, craftsmen, beauticians, and bartenders were viewed lowly. They simply wore tunics usually tied with a belt (McElduff 2018). Non-matrons attempted to wear the stola and were reprimanded. In the Code of Justinian, late-Roman laws created by Emperor Justinian I, it was illegal to dress like a nun if you were a prostitute. Dressing above your rank was illegal and on the other side of the spectrum, dressing below your status is potentially dangerous. If a woman was wearing an ancilla (slave attire) or a meretrix (prostitute attire) and was sexually assaulted, it was considered a lesser offense than if a woman wearing a stola was assaulted (Harlow 2012). Sounds like this was one of the earliest examples of slut shaming based on attire.

Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus was a Christian author from a Roman province in Africa who was the first Christian author to produce a collection of Latin Christian literature. He wrote a long essay about women’s clothing and encouraged others to judge women who weren’t in respectable clothing. He states that clothing worn that is not in agreement with nature and modesty deserves glaring stares, pointing fingers, and critical nods (Tertullian 3.8-4.10). He doesn’t hold back criticisms from matronae either. Tertullian said a matron out in public without her stola should be punished as if for sexual misbehavior because the garment is a guard of dignity.

Located in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, this painting shows a banquet featuring a prostitute at the center. She is wearing a sheer transparent garment with her breast exposed.

Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The code of ethics followed by the Romans, called the mos maiorum, was oppressive and extremely gendered and classist. The code was meant to outline traditions as a social code of law. This code alongside other rules and guidelines of morality had an effect segregating women specifically with the garments they wore. In Rome, there was a belief that purity corresponded with chastity, which prevented women from being liberated and free from male control (Burbano 2016). Said chastity was shown through the correct clothing for women. Exposing your body and taking ownership of your sexuality was looked down on in Rome. Over 2000 years later and we still see the exposure of women’s bodies as a controversial topic.

Crimes of Fashion: Modern Day Rules

In the United States today, restriction on what women can wear is still up for debate. Fashion is the main outlet for self expression but laws and regulations prevent women from doing as such. Compared to Ancient Rome, women today are less exploited in order to be noticed within male groups. To a certain extent, clothing regulations keep women under a modern Code of Justinian due to the evolution of fashion. Women in the United States, especially Miami, are expected to dress a certain way in order to have sex appeal, with revealing clothing, high heels, and full glam (i.e. hair and makeup done). Modern day women are subject to attire that invites the objectification of women. The dress was directly passed down from Roman and Greek society and has been historically feminized. It has been protested against in a bid against the rigid attire rules in the mid-twentieth century when women decided to wear pants more commonly. 

Women in the 1920’s begun to wear pants but faced backlash by the public. They were arrested, discriminated against, and mocked but the women continued to wear them.

Later on, they were more commonly used during sports and other activities and then transitioned into daily wear.

Photo courtesy of VintageDancer

In cases of discrimination because of dress code, women bare the sole and unsought responsibility to avoid the sexualization and objectification of their body by male classmates and coworkers. If a woman wears heels at work, as she is expected to, it impacts the woman’s balance and comfortability, but her male coworkers are not subject to such a position. In a classroom, a female student is expected to adhere to a strict dress code that doesn’t allow shoulders to show, have anything shorter than the length of the tips of her fingers against her leg, and many other specific rules. Her male classmates are not held to the same standards and the female students are supposed to accommodate themselves to make male students pay attention to the lesson and not their bodies. In both examples, women are expected and confined to dress for men, showing that we’re not as evolved as we’d like to think from ‘archaic’ times.

Dress codes have been used by schools to justify sexist and classist policies under the guise of “distractions” and “modesty”.

Students protest restrictive dress codes in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Photo courtesy of Suhei Rivas

Looking to the Future

The same mindset has been around for a long time, the people who believed showing an ankle or a knee was impure are the same kind of people today who measure a girl’s skirt and don’t allow tank tops in class. The biggest paradox is that women are simultaneously sexualizing women while telling them to cover up. When women are made responsible for men’s thoughts, society is doing everyone harm. It’s long past time we start raising societal expectations of men and giving women less of the burden of making everything they wear a political statement, rather than a mode for self-expression. In over two thousand years we still haven’t figured it out but hopefully in time, we learn to let go of some of the Ancient Roman ideals because misogyny should no longer dictate what we put on our bodies. 

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.

Florence as Text

“Blooming with Botticelli”, by Camilla Osorio of FIU on May 23-30, 2022.

Photographs taken and edited by Camilla Osorio/CC by 4.0

Female sexuality in art and history has always been a taboo topic and it continues to be a topic few choose to venture into. Female gratification and sexual pleasure are rarely discussed, hell, some people still believe that female satisfaction in the bedroom isn’t a requirement to this day. 

Keeping the limitations of female sexuality in mind, I fell in love with the portrayal of women and their sexuality in two specific artworks at the Uffizi Gallery: the Birth of Venus and Primavera by Botticelli. I have to give each painting justice so I will break them down individually.

The Birth of Venus by Botticelli depicts the goddess Venus after being born from seafoam. She is naked and standing on top of a shell, with her hands covering her modesty while leaning on one hip. She is the pinnacle of sexuality and the divine feminine. It’s difficult to tell if Botticelli was trying to highlight or if he was trying to conceal her innate sexuality by having Venus use her hands to conceal herself. The woman on the right is a nymph of Spring, seen by the flowers on and around her. She is quickly attending to Venus with a cloak to cover her body. On the left is Wind God Zephyr and Goddess of Spring, Chloris. They are blowing Venus onto shore.

Primavera, another beautiful piece of art by Botticelli. In this piece, elements of springtime and the coming of a new season but it’s central theme is love and sexuality. Venus is yet again a main character; her dress is cheekily painted in the shape of a vulva on her stomach, symbolizing sexuality and the coming of spring. The three women in sheer cloth are representations of the three virtues that women must adhere to: chastity, love, and beauty. There is another call back to the Birth of Venus with Zephyr, the Wind God and Chloris, a young woman he rapes. After which, he turns her into the goddess of flowers, which is portrayed with the flowers coming out of her mouth as she is running away from him. Rarely depicted, there is a pregnant woman in a floral robe walking towards Venus, symbolizing the birth of spring.

Botticelli was revolutionary in painting the Birth of Venus and Primavera. His depictions of women, despite having notations of male gaze, are a huge step forward (especially during its time) in showing women comfortable in their blooming sexuality.

Pisa as Text

“Acoustic Wonders”, by Camilla Osorio of FIU on May 25, 2022.

People travel all over the world to come to Pisa for one thing: the Pisa Baptistery of course. Pisa is a city in Tuscany and is known for its leaning bell tower, but it has much more to offer than a slanted tower. The city has many historical churches, museums, and other places with amazing architecture. 

I grew up with an immense love of music; the sound would be the first thing I would wake up to and the last thing before going to bed. I started playing classical music at a young age as well as ballet, which only furthered my connection and interest in music.

When Professor Bailly took the class into the Pisa Baptistery and said he had a surprise for us, I had to admit, I was nervous and hesitant. Last time he had a surprise for us, he took us into the Cripta dei Frati Cappuccini, also known as a monk crypt with over 3,700 bodies inside. This venture led me to a couple tears, a long period of silence, and to suffer a minor break in the concept of life and death and time. So needless to say, I was uneasy going into the next surprise.

However, I was pleasantly surprised. Due to the lack of decoration and artwork in the entirety of the baptistery, the acoustics are phenomenal. A woman who worked at the church walked to the center and began signing acoustically, instantly silencing the visitors inside. Her voice echoed throughout the building and everyone was entranced. I hadn’t heard anything like this before and this was a surprise that I truly enjoyed.

Cinque Terre as Text

“Young and Reckless” by Camilla Osorio of FIU on May 30-June 1, 2022

Photographs taken and edited by Camilla Osorio/CC by 4.0

A trip to the Mediterranean coast is exactly what the class needed after spending the past three weeks in the city (with day trips to the countryside, of course). Bustling city life and chaotic days are always fun, but taking some time away and quite literally escaping to the mountains was everything we needed. The Five Lands are coastal villages in Liguria which are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park, which is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, which basically means this land has “outstanding universal value and transcends national boundaries for present and future generations”.

Traveling within Cinque Terre is a bit unconventional, because until recently, visitors could only travel between villages via hike or by train. Traveling by car is a difficult method due to narrow roads and by boat can be costly for those with a smaller budget (and it doesn’t stop in Corniglia). Hiking between villages is easily the best method of travel. Being able to take in breathtaking views of the harbor, cliffs, farms, and homes while reaching incredible heights is something that everyone who visits should do.

The Mediterranean water was absolutely spectacular; it completely shoots the Atlantic coast out of the water. The shore was mainly rocks and little pebbles and the clarity of the water allowed us to see all the marinelife swimming alongside us. As a young (and somewhat reckless) traveler, I was amped up to go cliff jumping. On our last full day, we went to Manarola to do exactly that. While observing, I noticed the different kinds of jumpers: the screamers, the nose pluggers, the hesitant ones, and the flippers. Above the sea level there was a large group of observers, with gelato in hand, enjoying the view and the swimmers. Our group went to the bottom to finally do it ourselves. Climbing to the top of the rock was made difficult but diving into the refreshing crystalline water was well worth the struggle.

Cinque Terre was somewhere I had long wanted to visit and I couldn’t be more grateful to be able to have experiences like the ones I’ve had on this trip so far.

Venice as Text

“An Ode To Those Who Paved the Way” by Camilla Osorio of FIU on June 3-7, 2022.

Photographs taken and edited by Camilla Osorio/CC by 4.0

Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia isn’t a household name, but I argue that she should be. With more women enrolled in universities and colleges than men, we should look back to the women who made the journey through higher education first. Elena Cornaro was a Venetian noble who became one of the first women to get a degree and the first woman to get a Doctorate in Philosophy. After her philosophy tutor, Carlo Rinaldini, petitioned the University of Padua to allow her to pursue a degree in theology, which was rejected by the Cardinal on the basis that she was a woman. The Cardinal did grant her to get a degree in philosophy and she earned her degree in 1678.

It’s incredible to hear the story of Elena Cornaro as a woman pursuing higher education. The Italia Study abroad program was a class of 17 women and it’s astounding to see how the global education system has changed in nearly 350 years. My parents fought hard to allow me to have an education and instilled in myself and my sisters the importance of getting an education because it is a tool that is necessary for the rest of our lives. Stopping by the building where she was born, there is a plaque on the wall as an ode to her and what she represents to women in education. Academia is still a difficult place to navigate as a woman (even more so as a woman of color) and to see the commemoration of her accomplishments was encouraging to see. Being in a class full of amazing women for the past month only makes me excited to see where each of us will go in our respective fields and I know that we all have something amazing to offer, just like our educational foremothers did.

Camilla Osorio: Miami 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.

Deering as Text

“Preserving the Forgotten,” by Camilla Osorio of FIU at Deering Estate on January 28, 2022.

Photographs taken and edited by Camilla Osorio/CC by 4.0

As someone who did not grow up in Miami, moving to this magical city meant coming into a culture that was unlike anything I had experienced in the United States. Being from Miami was something the people are extremely proud of, and for good reason. From the food, music, culture, and the notable Miami accent; this city stands alone from any in the nation. Never before coming here did I see so many people drinking un cafecito in the middle of an eighty degree afternoon, but in Miami, it is commonplace. Despite the amount of culture and Miami pride in its residents, there is a lack of a deeper connection to Miami and its long history.

There is a rich history in this city that many Miamians are not aware of. Until this class, myself and others had never heard of the Deering Estate or all it had to offer. Many had a shallow perspective on the place as one of the many homes owned by a wealthy industrialist where visitors can spend the afternoon enjoying a hike in Miami’s many ecosystems. Spending the day at the Deering Estate quickly proved this to be incorrect. Charles Deering bought the estate in the 1920’s and converted the Richmond Inn into a winter home for his family. In later years, he created the Stone House inspired by Spanish architecture, contracting Bahamian workers to build the House and the Boat Basin, which is now home to manatees and other sea-life.

Purchased in 1986 by the State of Florida, the Deering Estate became an addition to the National Registry of Historical Places. Stepping onto the estate felt like taking a trip back to what Miami used to be prior to the high-rises, highways, and bustling city life. Far from a main road, the lack of noise pollution felt euphoric and refreshing; the only sounds heard were ones that came from the nature reserve. It wasn’t until reflecting on the trip that I realized how privileged that silence was. Noise pollution has a plethora of adverse affects that, as city folk, we don’t realize. It can affect our sleep, increase blood pressure and advance hearing loss; so spending the afternoon in this environment was very beneficial for all of the students.

The nature reserve is home to eight different ecosystems and has been a home for humans for over 10,000 years. The native Tequesta were living in Miami at the time of Ponce De Leon’s arrival in 1513. There is a multitude of evidence that the Tequesta were living on the Deering Estate’s land, with their tools sprawled across certain areas, freshwater streams available, and a burial ground with an estimated 12-18 people. While walking through the reserve, Professor Bailly recounted the history of Rome and its namesake. He spoke about twin brothers named Romulus and Remus and how Romans to this day feel deeply connected to this lineage-despite most not actually being descendants-but the love for their city outweighs the science and logic. I wondered why Miamians don’t feel that deep rooted connection to this piece of land. The Tequestas are our Romulus and Remus yet since there is not much from them that was preserved (such as language and image), they have slipped through the cracks for the large majority of the population.

The Tequesta Culter Burial Mound is one of two unearthed Tequesta burial sites. One of the many unfortunate effects of urbanization is that we lose all the history behind the land, which plays into the disconnect between Old Miami and Modern Miami. There are countless examples of losing historical sites and burial mounds in favor of building an office building or a parking lot. In 2013, a native settlement was excavated that was over 1,500 years old. At least eight buildings were found as well as a burial site with remnants of over 500 people. Rather than halt construction, the bones were excavated and construction continued- the burial site is now a Whole Foods.

While Miami is not Rome, this city has a deep and layered history that needs to be given more attention. Perhaps with more visitors at the Deering Estate, it will open more people to the rich history that their city has to offer them and maybe the connection to Miami could be less superficial than spanglish and the mutual love for Bad Bunny (not that it’s a bad thing).

Vizcaya as Text

“Mediterranean Opulence in Biscayne Bay.” by Camilla Osorio of FIU at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens on February 18, 2022.

Photographs taken and edited by Camilla Osorio/CC by 4.0

Villa Vizcaya was designed to be the epitome of extravagance in Miami; the villa is a wonderful clash of European architecture, most notably Italian, Spanish, and French. Built and lived in by James Deering during the Gilded Age, Vizcaya solidified Miami as an Epicurean city in the United States and it only takes a minute upon arrival to confirm. The East Entrance shows two sculptures of Ponce de Leon (originally Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo) and Bel Vizcaya, a made-up person meant to create a story and a legend for the villa. On the main entrance, arrival by boat is extraordinary. The barge is designed by Alexander S. Calder with sculptures of women on the sides. 

James Deering did not adhere to a rulebook when designing the villa with Paul Chalfin as the Artistic Director, Burrall Hoffman as Architect, and Diego Suarez as Landscape Architect. He lived a life of excess and wanted a house to reflect that. Paul Chalfin even said that Deering was always sipping on whisky and smoking from a cigarette, and who better to welcome Deering’s guest than Dionysus/Bacchus, the Roman God of Wine and Ecstasy. Inviting you in by standing in contrapposto with a jug of grapes in hand, the sculpture is there to greet you into the hedonistic lifestyle.

Walking through Vizcaya and learning about Deering and his life here reminded me of The Great Gatsby, known for its description of the Gilded Age of lavishness and the unrestrained lifestyle. Both Deering and Gatsby lived like the greatest thing in life is pleasure, with the house they lived in, the people they surrounded themselves with, and the parties they threw.

Each room of the villa is a culmination of Deering’s transatlantic Amazon wish-list. French Neoclassic in the entrance hall, Rococo in the reception room, Mudejar art in the living room; Deering saw what he wanted overseas and Amazon Prime’d it to Miami. This limitless ability to import paintings, carpets, fountains, ceilings, and even Italian sculptors shows Deering’s commitment to wanting the best of the best for his little slice of Mediterranean heaven. 

Villa Vizcaya perfectly showcases Deering’s vision of a Hedonistic Miami. However, behind this estate and the effort spent building this, Deering never married, had children, or had any close relationship. Many speculate that Deering was gay but reports were never confirmed. Similarly to Jay Gatsby, I wonder what Deering was hiding behind this life of opulence once the party was over.

Downtown Miami as Text

“Excluded History: The Mother of Miami” by Camilla Osorio of FIU at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens on February 18, 2022.

Photographs taken and edited by Camilla Osorio/CC by 4.0

Finding out that Miami is the only major American city that was founded by a woman took me aback. Julia Tuttle came to Fort Dallas, a military base during the Seminole Wars, and used her parents’ estate money to purchase the land that the city of Miami is located on. Back in the 1880’s, South Florida was not the same as what we know now. It was a bleak swamp land that people didn’t see potential in, but not Julia Tuttle. She saw a prosperous land with potential to be a beautiful home for many. To make her vision of Miami into a reality, she knew she had to get transportation into the area, which at the time was the railroad. She reached out to Henry Flagler for many years and it was not until the Great Freeze, when she gave him her own personal blossoming oranges to prove that Miami has viable land, that Flagler saw what Tuttle saw: warm weather and land for tourism and agriculture.

By the mid 1890’s, the first train arrived and the city of Miami was soon incorporated. But since it was still the 19th century, women could not vote. Tuttle could not even vote to make her own dream into a reality. It’s disappointing but not surprising that this is how history treats women, even founding mothers.

It was astounding to hear about the foundation of Miami that is never mentioned in the classroom. While I am not from Miami, I am from South Florida and to not hear about a female founder of one of the biggest cities in the United States is disappointing. The history of this city glazes over Tuttle and all her effort in creating the city of Miami. There are only two commemorations of Julia Tuttle: Julia Tuttle Causeway and the Julia Tuttle statue in Bayfront Park (which I would have loved to see during class time). However, her co-founder of Miami, William Brickell (nicknamed the Father of Miami) has an entire neighborhood named after him. As diverse as this city claims to be, it’s very telling in which stories of the past are told and which fade into obscurity. Miami might be a bit better than most cities when it comes to diversity and inclusion but it needs to acknowledge the lesser known stories, most of which include women and people of color.

South Beach as Text

“Don’t Let Spring Breakers Stop You From Going to Ocean Drive” by Camilla Osorio of FIU at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens on February 18, 2022.

Art Deco, short for Arts Décoratifs, is unique to South Beach and is an easy aesthetic to spot. It highlights geometric shapes, strong lines, glass bricks, and of course eyebrows at the top of the buildings. 

Before we get into the tour of South Beach, let’s get into a bit of background first. Because how can we truly enjoy what we’re looking and learning about without knowing where it came from? Beginning in 1925, Art Nouveau was a popular art form in Europe (look at the Paris Metro) and Art Deco was founded off Art Nouveau. Art Deco took off and gained popularity in the United States. Buildings such as Radio City Music Hall and the Chrysler Building were made at that time and are in such style. The split of Art Deco was due to the Great Depression. The Great Gatsby vibes are officially over.

However, down in Miami, Carl Fisher created a popular beachfront using the Art Deco aesthetic with resorts like the Flamingo Hotel and thanks to the Miami Design Preservation League, we can still enjoy the Art Deco style that made South Beach such an internationally-recognized tourist attraction. Tourists who visit think of shows like Miami Vice, Dexter, and Ballers, who used South Beach and Miami as a whole as the background of their shows.

Walking the long stretch of South Beach, starting at South Pointe walking a mile and a half to Condo Canyon, we were walking past historical Art Deco buildings that have been preserved for almost a hundred years. These buildings stand out from anything in Florida, let alone the whole world. It’s very understandable why over 24 million people visit Miami every year. 

The buildings stand out and leave an impression on you while you’re walking down the street. The symmetry of the buildings, the rule of three, and the bright colors are unlike anything you’ll ever see worldwide. These buildings on Ocean Drive are one of the few examples of Art Deco left, like the buildings in Manhattan. It’s important as Miamians to appreciate the history and beauty that South Beach has to offer, despite most of us fervently avoiding the island, most especially around Springtime when the college students are on break.

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