Hayden Anderson: Grand Tour 2022

Hayden Anderson is an Honors College student at FIU studying marketing with hopes to go into the fashion industry. Hayden wants to travel the world to experience as many cultures as possible. She enjoys taking pictures, thrift shopping, and reading books. Her goal is to create a non-profit that helps underprivileged girls where a portion of the proceeds from her clothing line will go. She defines success as knowing she has helped as many people as she can.


Colosseo, Foro Romano, and Ancient Roma

Photographs taken by Hayden Anderson// CC by 4.0

Of the four cities we visited, Rome was by far my favorite.  To me, it has everything you could want in a city from the ease and access to public transportation, the overall walkability, and booming nightlife. Not to mention, it’s home to many of the most famous architectural structures and art pieces in ancient history. There are dozens of water fountains located throughout the city providing clean drinking water no matter where you are. It is the perfect place for students because the history is so rich it can be applicable to nearly all majors. You don’t have to be an art or architecture major to appreciate the absolute masterpieces found in Rome. During our two weeks there, I learned an incredible amount about the intriguing lives of ancient Romans and as a result, I gained a new appreciation for art history. 

I’ve always marveled at the human tendency to find the pain of others to be entertaining. But when I learned about the brutality of the games played in the Colosseum, I understood exactly where it comes from. Built in 70 AD during the rule of Vespasian, the Flavian Amphitheater, now referred to as the Colosseum, was constructed with the purpose of being an entertainment venue. During its time, many different events were held ranging from gladiator battles to naval reenactments. Thousands would gather and watch people fight to the death in the most brutal ways for pure enjoyment. The Romans were very inventive people, so in order to enhance the experience of viewers they created the velarium that provided shading and ventilation. The entire structure was very architecturally advanced for its time and is one of the greatest Roman buildings in my opinion. 

Touring the Colosseum was a very surreal experience because of its infamous reputation and its common association with Rome. Hearing the stories and reading about the history was nothing compared to walking inside and feeling like an ancient Roman. Due to the lack of people during our early morning tour, it was an even more intimate experience that allowed me to fully understand the gravity of what occurred there. It’s easy to look at the Romans and think of their actions as barbaric until you realize how much our entertainment aligns with theirs. From wrestling matches to football games, two beloved American pastimes, people truly enjoy watching others fight. Hedonism was ingrained in the Roman lifestyle, and is just as prevalent in ours today. 

Also located on the Sacra Via (Sacred Street) is the re-discovered city center, the Roman Forum. The Forum was home to all kinds of day-to-day activities both social and political. Initially, it served as a market where Romans could get common goods, and eventually progressed into a site for important political meetings. Housed in the Forum are a number of important structures including the Senate House, Temple of Vesta, the Arc of Titus, and many more. Criminal trials, elections, and public speeches all took place in the Forum making it a hub for receiving important information. It truly is one of the most spectacular sights in all of Rome.

So, are we actually Rome? To answer as simply as possible: of course we are Rome! But we’re also Greece, and Egypt, and every other great empire that came before us. Following in all their hard to fill footsteps, we are nothing without their incredible influence on all aspects of our society. 


Oltrarno and Piazzale Michelangelo

Photographs taken by Hayden Anderson// CC by 4.0

You have not experienced Florence in its full glory unless you’ve been at the top of Piazzale Michelangelo during sunset. It is hands down the most incredible view of the city and is best enjoyed with a glass of the local wine. What makes it even more special is the live music playing in the background combined with the buzz of the hundreds of other travelers all taking it in with you. It’s a truly unforgettable experience. 

Giuseppe Poggioni designed the square in 1869 following the urbanization of Florence during  its time as the capital of Italy. It is dedicated to the infamous Renaissance painter Michelangelo and was intended to house a museum of his finest works but ended up becoming a cafe instead. Replicas of the David and the four allegories of the Medici Chapel are located in the center of the piazzale and are so heavy that they took nine pairs of oxen to transport. The copies were also sculpted out of bronze while the originals are made of marble. 

Before the trip, I was looking forward to seeing Florence the most after reading Dan Brown’s Inferno. It quickly became one of my favorite books and I was really excited to see all the locations in the book first hand. Both Brown’s and Dante’s Inferno sparked my interest in the troubled poet and his cryptic work. Getting to walk where he walked gave me a lot of insight into his life in ways the books are not able to. The most powerful was the Baptistery of San Giovanni where Dante looked up as a baby and saw the satanic mosaic that he later took inspiration from. His imagination and use of vivid imagery is unlike any other and is incredibly influential. He truly shaped the way we think about hell in such a unique way. Instead of a giant place where all sinners go, he created a system of levels each dedicated to a different sin with its own corresponding eternal punishment. Reading Inferno and being exposed to dozens of churches gave me a new perspective of Catholic imagery and Catholicism as a whole. 

Unexpectedly, what stood out to me the most in Florence was the artwork, from Botticelli’s paintings and Michelangelo’s David, to the murals of St Catherine in Siena. Having known very little about art and art history before this trip, I am very grateful for what I’ve been able to learn and now being able to recognize different styles of art and eras. 

Cinque Terre


Photographs taken by Hayden Anderson// CC by 4.0

For more than a year, my computer lock screen was a picture of Cinque Terre. I had no idea what town it was, or what the different towns were, it just served as motivation to work hard in school so I would be able to study abroad in Italy. The picture was so beautiful it was hard to believe that a place like that was even real. Seeing the full view for the first time on our hike between Monterosso and Vernazza was better than I could have ever imagined. The colorful houses, bright blue waters, and vibrant flowers made for the most serene landscape of the entire trip. The hike was very physically challenging, but I would do it over again in a heartbeat just to experience the view. 

The town of Corniglia is the third village of Cinque Terre and the only one above sea level. It is known to have strong agricultural traditions that date back to Roman times because it’s surrounded on three sides by vineyards and terraces. Because of its distance from the sea, some parts of the town are more rural than the more coastal towns. However, in the upper part of Corniglia rural meets gothic in the church of San Pietro. Its dedication to St. Peter can be seen in its Carrara-marble rose window where a small statue of Peter holding keys is located in the front of the church. It was built around 1334-1351 by Matteo and Pietro di Campiglio in Corniglia’s local stone. While the exterior features gothic elements, the interior was remodeled with a baroque style. 

What makes it even more unique is that the only way to get into town is by hiking around 380 stairs, even if you take a train. While it is definitely a journey, it is very rewarding because along the way you get to stop at Bar il Gabbiano, which has the best lemonade slushies in the world. Once you get to Corniglia, you see that it’s a very quiet town that doesn’t have any hotels so the majority of people there are locals or are stopping by during their hike. One of the most common things to do in Corniglia is cliff jumping into the icy Mediterranean. While I didn’t have the opportunity to jump in Corniglia, I was able to in Manarola, which was one of my favorite experiences of the whole trip. 

All five towns have their own history and traditions, but what ties them together is their dedication to preserving the land. The pushback from locals to not give into the hospitality industry take-over has led to Cinque Terre remaining a UNESCO world heritage site. This is a perfect example of how people can live hand-in-hand with nature while not degrading it.  


Santa Croce

Photographs taken by Hayden Anderson// CC by 4.0

“Venice can only be compared to Venice”. An incredibly fitting quote that perfectly describes how unique the sinking city is. The islands of Venice are surrounded by the Venetian lagoon that has served as protection from invaders for centuries. The open layout also allowed for more fresh air to flow which was beneficial in preventing the spread of diseases. While the lagoon protects Venice from the outside, it creates many problems for the city itself. Air and water pollution are among the most prevalent issues caused by the water-surrounded city. Water taxis, boats, and gondolas are constantly disrupting the wave patterns which erodes the sides of the buildings. Not to mention the structurally unsound foundation that causes many buildings to be slanted and sinking. The environmental impact of tourism on the Venetian ecosystem grows more apparent everyday. 

Santa Croce is the smallest of the six districts in Venice, and the only one that can be accessed by car because it is connected to the mainland. Its name is derived from the Santa Croce Monastery which once held part of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem. It is located on the upper curve of the Grand Canal and contains two of the Canal’s four bridges. Despite its size, it is one of the busiest districts because of the bus stop located in Piazzale Roma, the only place people can travel by anything besides a water vessel. Because of how many cars frequent the district, the artificial island of Tronchetto was built solely for parking. If that isn’t a testament to the impacts of tourism, I don’t know what is. 

Venice wrapped up our tour and served as an awakening for the downside traveling abroad can have on the environment. The benefits to our education come at a high cost to our planet.


The Grand Tour was an unforgettable experience that I will always cherish. The memories I’ve made with classmates will last a lifetime. I found interest in topics I never had before because of the engaging lectures. I learned more than I ever thought I would, which has made me better informed in all kinds of areas including: art history, architecture, Italian history, foundations of Catholicism, and so much more. I really appreciated how in depth we went into the topics because I was able to be fully immersed in all discussions. Being able to discuss the lectures and my thoughts with my classmates made my experience even more engaging. Studying abroad is something I’ve always wanted to accomplish and I can honestly say it has changed my perspective on a lot of things, especially life in the US. One thing I love about Italy is the tradition of the passeggiata; it’s such a simple act but it shows how different the culture in Italy is from the US. The fast paced lifestyle has never been something I aspired to have which is why I enjoyed being able to live like a local Italian so much. It was a culture shock at first, but I assimilated quickly because of all I was able to learn in such a short amount of time. 

I would never have been able to have this experience if it weren’t for the Honors College. The intimate learning setting has helped me succeed in all academic areas and has given me a wealth of knowledge. I am forever grateful for the Grand Tour!

Work Cited

Art history in Florence: Piazzale Michelangelo. FlorenceItaly. (2020, April 20). Retrieved June 15, 2022, from https://www.florenceitaly.org/art-history-in-florence-piazzale-michelangelo/?lang=en 

Santa Croce. visitingvenice.net. (2019, October 24). Retrieved June 15, 2022, from https://www.visitingvenice.net/venice-districts/santa-croce 

History.com Editors. (2018, March 8). Roman Forum. History.com. Retrieved June 15, 2022, from https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-rome/roman-forum#section_1 

Corniglia. Cinque Terre. (n.d.). Retrieved June 15, 2022, from https://www.cinqueterre.eu.com/en/corniglia 

Hayden Anderson: Italia America 2022

Ideals of Sexuality in Rome and Their Impact on America

A Brief History

It is undeniable that we owe a major thanks to the Romans for their contribution to our notions of modern medicine, road systems, mathematics, and many more. But an area that gets overlooked is their impact on our ideas of sexuality. Most of the credit is often given to the Greeks, when in reality, they held a more refined beliefs, especially about homosexuality, compared to Romans. The concept of sexuality as being fluid is a concept that was derived from the times of Ancient Rome. In this blog, I will be diving into the relationship between Roman ideals on sexuality compared to those of modern day America. 

Pursuit of Pleasure

Statue of Bacchus in Villa Vizcaya taken by Hayden Anderson

A common image of Roman history is its emphasis on hedonism. Founded by Aristippus, hedonism is referred to as the theory that pleasure comes before all else. This is exemplified in the decadence of the Roman lifestyle which is commonly depicted  in paintings from the time era. While hedonism was created in Greece, the Greeks often looked down upon the Romans for their outward pursuit of pleasure and described their erotic practices as “gross” (1). The shame around sex and the removal of hedonistic ideals grew even more apparent as Catholicism rose in Rome. This transition was a major turning point, and began to shape Roman culture as it is better known today.

While the majority of our culture aligns with Catholic Rome, hedonism can still be seen through those who enjoy the finer things in life. In an attempt to create an atmosphere that embraced this luxurious Roman lifestyle, the Italian-inspired Villa Vizcaya features a statue of Bacchus, the god of wine and pleasure, in the front entrance. Bacchus represents the erotic, pleasure driven, eccentric atmosphere of ancient Rome which is exactly what the villa was trying to bring back to life. The workaholic obsessed mindset that has taken over the U.S could not be farther from that of the hedonistic era. 


Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. (1888). The Roses of Heliogabalus.

Deeming the Greeks as the main influencers on modern queer identities does an injustice to the Romans and the true impact they had. While Greece was known for openly accepting gay relationships, it did very little to empower them. Instead, it was said that the Greeks looked down upon the Romans for their decadence and sexual activities. Homosexuality was not just something Romans accepted or tolerated, it was embraced and celebrated. Self expression, at-least amongst gay men, knew no bounds and allowed the queer community to flourish. This is not to say the Roman ideals on homosexuality were without flaw. Lesbians were not afforded praise to the same extent that gay men were, which is just one of the ways sexism was imbedded in society . During this time, some Roman authors, especially Juvenal, referred to the queer female desire in a very negative ways in their literature (2). This selective inclusion has translated into our modern day society. An example of this is how queer female relationships are sexualized in rap music, but are discriminated against in real life. The fetishization of queer women goes to show how the LGBTQ+ community is praised only when it’s convenient and on contingent terms, which parallels the Greek ideals. 

The general tone around homosexuality in the U.S differs greatly from that of ancient Rome in a number of ways.  For instance, gay marriage was a normal practice in Rome, many emperors and leaders, including the famous Emperor Nero who was married to both women and men; but was not made legal in the US until 2015. Even after it’s legalization, same-sex marriages were still not afforded the same rights, or treatment, as straight couples. Homophobia is still expressed in all kinds of ways in our society despite how much we think we have progressed. The recent “Don’t Say Gay” bill is a perfect example of how the queer community is being oppressed through the continuous cycle of learned homophobia. We have regressed in our ideals surrounding queer identity and expression since the times of ancient Rome significantly.

Another model that Rome affords for the queer community is on transgender identities. Eglabulus was one of, if not the first, transgender rulers in Rome. Despite the controversy surrounding her actions as a ruler, she paved the way for inclusivity in leadership we have today (3). The infamous Julius Caesar was also known to have cross-dressed on occasion and was sometimes referred to as the Queen of Bithynia (4). This  goes to show that sex reassignment and trans identity has been around for centuries.. The normalization of all queer identities and sexualities is rooted in ancient Roman culture. 

The Catholic Revolution

When Rome converted from Polytheism to Catholicism in 313 AD, the social climate altered significantly . This change brought about a new value system and ideals that went against the hedonistic culture Rome previously held. Sex went from being celebrated to a sacred act only to be done between a man and his wife. Throughout the decade after Catholicism was adopted, it slowly became the dominant religion taking over Rome. This shift created the controversy around pre-martial sex making it a matter of morality instead of a pleasure driven desire. The norms and rules of society were now dictated by Catholic principles and those who broke these new rules were sinners. It was a major change from the free-spirited lifestyles during the period before the Catholic revolution. The culture of post-Catholic Rome shares more similarities to modern day America than the Roman polytheistic era. In Kyle Harper’s book, “From Shame to Sin”, he discusses in depth how the rise of Catholicism permanently transformed the hedonistic Roman mindset. Harper highlights a few of the major ways in which the previous concept of sexuality was diminished by the newly adopted ideals(5).

Having derived so much of our society from Roman culture, the adoption of Catholicism truly shaped the American view on sexuality. Even though Catholics only make up about 1/5 of the U.S. population, the morals and beliefs of the Catholic religion are more prevalent than any other religion (6). The fact that it is 2022, and queer couples still have to fear for their lives when showing affection in public, directly proves how the Roman Catholic belief system is still in act.


  1. Ingleheart , Jennifer. “Romosexuality – Embracing Queer Sex and Love in Ancient Times.” The Conversation, 2 Feb. 2022, https://theconversation.com/romosexuality-embracing-queer-sex-and-love-in-ancient-times-130420.
  2. Ingleheart , Jennifer. “What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us? LGBT Identities and Ancient Rome.” OUPblog, 28 Oct. 2015, https://blog.oup.com/2015/11/lgbt-identities-ancient-rome/
  3. Mijatovic, Alexis. “A Brief Biography of Elagabalus: The Transgender Ruler of Rome · Challenging Gender Boundaries: A Trans Biography Project by Students of Dr. Catherine Jacquet · OutHistory: It’s about Time.” Outhistory.org, https://outhistory.org/exhibits/show/tgi-bios/elagabalus
  4. Mason, Emma. “In Bed with the Romans: A Brief History of Sex in Ancient Rome.” In Bed With The Romans: A Brief History Of Sex In Ancient Rome | History Extra, History Extra, 7 Apr. 2022, https://www.historyextra.com/period/roman/in-bed-with-the-romans-a-brief-history-of-sex-in-ancient-rome/.
  5. Harvey, Katherine. “From Shame to Sin: Sexual Morality in Late Antiquity.” NOTCHES, 6 June 2020, https://notchesblog.com/2016/09/01/from-shame-to-sin-the-christian-transformation-of-sexual-morality-in-late-antiquity/.
  6. Masci, David, and Gregory A. Smith. “7 Facts about American Catholics.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 30 May 2020, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/10/10/7-facts-about-american-catholics/#:~:text=1%20There%20are%20roughly%2051,2007%20to%2021%25%20in%202014.

Hayden Anderson: Italia as Text 2022

Hayden Anderson is an Honors College student at FIU studying marketing with hopes to go into the fashion industry. Hayden wants to travel the world to experience as many cultures as possible. She enjoys taking pictures, thrift shopping, and reading books. Her goal is to create a non-profit that helps underprivileged girls where a portion of the proceeds from her clothing line will go. She defines success as knowing she has helped as many people as she can.

Photograph taken by Emma Cairo of FIU

Roma as Text

By Hayden Anderson of FIU on May 18th, 2022

Photographs taken by Hayden Anderson// CC by 4.0

Rome is one of the most spectacular cities in the world. No other place immerses you in the culture and history to the extent that you feel as if you were a Roman yourself. Drinking from fountains in the street spewing water from the infamous aqueducts, strolling along the decadent piazzas during the passeggiata, and feasting on traditional dishes allows me to truly walk in the footsteps of ancient Romans. The ancient and modern world are so intertwined here that you can have a 2000 year old historic monument and a cell phone store on the same street; it’s incredible. Every piazza and street have their own niche traits that add to the unique atmosphere of the city. I could spend a lifetime in Rome, and it still wouldn’t be enough. 

Originally known as the Flavian Amphitheater, the Colosseum was built in 70 AD by Vespasian and was finalized in 80 AD by his son Titus. It is an absolute architectural masterpiece. It is astounding that they were able to create a structure of that size without electricity and in the span of only 10 years. Romans were extremely inventive for their time to say the least. The Colosseum is a perfect depiction of human nature, and our morbid sense of humor, in the sense that they built a massive amphitheater with impeccable columns and towering arches just to watch people slaughter each other. They even created trap doors that released blood-hungry animals on the unlucky individuals for pure entertainment . Their ingenuity, as barbaric as it may be, is incredible. Despite destruction of the exterior structure, it continues to stand as a triumphant symbol of Ancient Rome. 

Pompeii as Text: Divine Feminine

By Hayden Anderson of FIU on May 18th, 2022

Photographs taken by Hayden Anderson// CC by 4.0

Like many other re-discovered ancient cities, Pompeii emerged from the ash in 1748. The city was frozen in time for 17 centuries covered by debris from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. This catastrophic event killed around 2000 Pompeiians and devastated the city and surrounding areas. While the lava destroyed all wooden elements, a large portion of the internal brick and stone structures remained intact. The destruction that the eruption caused is undoubtedly sorrowful, but it also helped to preserve the modern (for its time) city allowing us to have to further study the lives of ancient Pompeiians. The architectural resilience is absolutely astounding given that it was constructed more than 2 millennia ago.

Nestled on the outskirts of Pompeii, the Villa of Mysteries houses one of the most incredible pieces of ancient art I’ve ever seen. Spanning over three walls, the fresco depicts the transition of a woman as she embarks on a rite of passage into a cult. While this is the most popular interpretation, the painting itself is subjective. When looked upon through the female eye, we can see a woman emerging into her true self and fully embracing her femininity. The fluidity of her poses is absolutely divine and truly captures the essence of her new-found self-expression. In the beginning of the painting, on the left side, we see the woman concealed by her clothing, being shielded by her innocence. Her body language is timid as though she is hiding from herself. As we move our eyes to the center of the painting, we see the woman talking to another female who appears to be someone of higher power given her decadent clothing and assertive posture. The woman, who has shed some of her coverings, still displays a lack of confidence based on downward gaze. As we are drawn to the third wall, we can see that the woman now holds herself proudly with her scarf billowing around her, finally basking in her liberation. The transformation throughout the painting is a beautiful tale of self-discovery and femininity. Having withstood the hands of time, and a natural disaster, the fresco encompasses the triumphs and perseverance of women through the centuries. Mother Nature is, after all, a woman.

Tivoli as Text: Hadrian’s Haven

By Hayden Anderson of FIU on May 24th, 2022

Photographs taken by Hayden Anderson// CC by 4.0

Constructed as a sanctuary to escape the outside world, Hadrian’s Villa is housed in the serene town of Tivoli. The picturesque scenery and the remote location made it the perfect getaway from the chaos of Roman life. Spanning over 200 acres, the villa was the peak of luxury during its prime. The expansive pool lined with Roman sculptures is just one of the villa’s many luxurious attributes. The room that truly solidified the intention of Hadrian’s refuge was the Maritime Theatre, also known as the Island Villa. This spectacular work of architecture features a central, circular platform surrounded by a moat. It’s commonly described as a villa inside a villa because it was equipped with everything Hadrian could have wanted. He spent copious amounts of time in the room reading all kinds of literature, painting, and enjoying various entertainments. It’s truly one of the greatest features in a house I have ever seen and goes to show the sheer wealth of the Roman Emperor.

More beautiful than the villa itself, was the love of Hadrian and Antinous. While it was by no means the only queer relationship in classical antiquity, it is one of the most well-known. Antinous was a strikingly-handsome boy from Greece who was obviously of lower class than Hadrian. Downward relations were very common during the time, but their story was more than just a physical connection. Absolutely enthralled with each other, Antinous’s tragic passing took an incredible toll on Hadrian. Immediately after his death, Antonius was deified upon Hadrian’s request which was unheard of for someone of his status. All around the villa, and in many Roman museums, statues of Antinous can be found as a beautiful depiction of love and devotion that transcends even after death.

Florence as Text

By Hayden Anderson of FIU on May 30th, 2022

Photographs taken by Hayden Anderson// CC by 4.0

Florence is the cooler, younger sister of Rome. Even though it was founded 700 years after Rome, the cities’ history is just as rich and intriguing. The spectacular city is home to one of the oldest, and greatest, architectural marvels of all time, Brunelleschi’s Dome. Not to mention, the most iconic statue ever created, the David, is also within walking distance. While these are both incredible works of art, Botticelli’s paintings in the Uffizi Gallery are the most astounding in my opinion. 

The Birth of Venus is one of the most infamous paintings of the Renaissance era and one of Botticelli’s finest art works. In the painting, Venus is featured standing on a clam shell in the ocean having just emerged symbolizing her birth. She is fully nude, but mostly concealed by her flowing hair and hands. Her left breast remains exposed signifying the embrace of her femininity while preserving her innocence. What makes it even more beautiful is how Botticelli drew her figure; she has the body of a real woman. All the female statues and paintings I’ve seen throughout this trip have all been created in admiration of the female body, curvy and full of life. It’s incredible to see women depicted in such empowering ways. Through this class, I have a new-found appreciation for art in a way I never thought I would. 

Sienna as Text

By Hayden Anderson of FIU on May 30th, 2022

Photographs taken by Hayden Anderson// CC by 4.0

There is no denying the oppression of women and their absence of influential women during ancient times. Their stories are just as important and deserve to be heard. In Sienna, the house of St Catherine remains as a tribute to her incredible influence in the mid 1300’s. The house itself is quaint, but it’s the paintings inside her bedroom that are some of the most moving pieces of art I’ve ever seen. They tell the tale of a girl and her unwavering devotion to Jesus Christ. The painting on the far left shows a young Catherine cutting her hair to make herself look “undesirable” for the man she was arranged to marry. More than that, it’s a symbol of rejecting the standards placed upon women and that beauty is not defined by the length of your hair. 

Her firm convictions to Catholicism were also displayed by her role as an advisory of peace. She was responsible for convincing Pope Gregory XI to leave Avignon and head to Rome, which as a woman during that time, was extremely impressive. The Pope saw her influential skills and sent her to negotiate peace with Florence. Her success in Florence started her lifelong journey of activism. Throughout her time, she also sent letters to clergy members to try and gain their support for Pope Urban VI. She is one of the most outstanding figures of the Middle Ages and a perfect depiction of empowered female voices. 

Cinque Terre as Text

By Hayden Anderson of FIU on June 4th, 2022

Photographs taken by Hayden Anderson // CC 4.0

The view of a man-made skyline is nothing compared to the natural beauty of Mother Nature. The exquisite landscape of Cinque Terre is unmatched by any other view we have seen on the trip. I was absolutely blown away by the crystal blue waters, terracotta colored buildings, and luscious greenery. It’s truly unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

From the beginning of the trip, I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone in order to be fully immersed in this experience. I was able to bring it into fruition during our time in Cinque Terre. From hiking over 15 miles, to cliff jumping, and trying all kinds of seafood; I can truly say I got the most out of my time in the spectacular city.

From the moment I found out about the hike I was nervous. While I’ve gone hiking many times before, I had never gone such a long distance. The hike itself was very physically intense, and at times I didn’t think I could do it anymore, but the unique, spectacular views of each city made it all worth it. At the very end, a couple of my classmates and I went swimming in the freezing cold water of Manarola, and while I couldn’t feel my legs the next day, it became my favorite day of the entire trip. While I wish we were able to go to all 5 towns, it gives me an excuse to come back again!

Venice as Text: The Sinking City

By Hayden Anderson of FIU on June 15th, 2022

Photographs taken by Hayden Anderson // CC 4.0

There is no city in the world quite like Venice. Made up of around 117 small islands on the expansive lagoon, it was the perfect place to hide from barbarians during the fall of the Roman empire.

Being completely surrounded by water is ideal for protecting the city from invaders, but it comes with many structural and environmental issues. Due to the main source of transportation being water taxis and boats, the unnatural wave patterns corrode the exterior of buildings around the city. The maintenance required to keep up with the degradation of the brick walls is crucial and becoming increasingly worrisome. As a result of the sea levels, constant waves, and unsound foundation, the city is slowly, but surely, sinking beyond repair.

While the lack of cars might allude to better air quality, the pollution from the hundreds of diesel-powered water vessels is just as prevalent. The endless cycle of carbon pollution and sewage being deposited into the canals has led to rising sea levels at very alarming rates. One of the main causes of this tragedy is the high amounts of tourism. With over a million people visiting Venice every year, the devastation on the environment is more and more apparent. While we as tourists were no better, learning about how our visit impacts the Venetian ecosystems makes us better informed on the downsides traveling can have.

Environmentally speaking, tourism can be very harmful, but the revenue it generates for local businesses greatly benefits the economy. Because of its convenient location, Venice has had great success when it comes to trading which adds to their successful economic status. At its peak, it was the trading powerhouse that dominated the Mediterranean. The rise of capitalism can be linked back to Venetian times and their prosperous maritime activity.

The fate of Venice and its sinking foundation is a testament to the undeniable impacts of humanity. Climate change continues to devastate our atmosphere and fragile ecosystems. Traveling the world is heavily romanticized in our society, but at what cost to our precious planet?

Hayden Anderson: Miami as Text 2022

Hayden Anderson is an Honors College student at FIU studying marketing with hopes to go into the fashion industry. Hayden wants to travel the world to experience as many cultures as possible. She enjoys taking pictures, thrift shopping, and reading books. Her goal is to create a non-profit that helps underprivileged girls where a portion of the proceeds from her clothing line will go. She defines success as knowing she helped as many people as she could.

Photo Taken By Aleck Arroyo// CC by 4.0

Deering Estate as Text: Tequesta Truth

By Hayden Anderson of FIU on February 6th, 2022

Photographs taken by Hayden Anderson// CC by 4.0

The first word that comes to my mind when I think of the Deering Estate is a smorgasbord. There is an abundance of contrasting components that make up this historical time capsule. From the juxtaposition of the Spanish and farmhouse architecture to the 8 different ecosystems and tribe burial ground, all housed on 450 acres of land; it’s chaos. Individually, they are all rich with character and history, so when you put them together, it can be a lot to take in, which takes people’s attention away from their individual purposes. This isn’t to say that the Deering Estate isn’t incredible, quite the contrary. It captures the essence, the cheer chaos, of Miami exquisitely. This city is chaos. It’s home to every race, ethnicity, gender expression, and sexual orientation imaginable. There is no place better fitting for the estate than Miami.

From the moment you walk to the entrance of the Deering Estate, you are welcomed by a canopy of luscious greenery. Then you walk through to see two buildings that couldn’t look they like don’t belong together more. One is a scarlet and cream colored farmhouse-style cottage and the other is a limestone house with columns, arches, and windows all inspired from architecture of different countries. Directly behind is a boat basin lined with towering palm trees that leads out to Biscayne Bay. From there, you walk down a path that will lead you to a private trail where you can truly see how the plethora of different ecosystems come together.

The two groups of people that are most significant to the history of the Deering Estate, that also have the least representation, are the Tequesta and the Bahamians.

There would be no blog for us to write or tour for us to take if it wasn’t for the blood shed and intense labor of the Bahamians. They dredged the basin in horrendous conditions for a year to create the breathe taking view we had the privilege to enjoy. During construction, four workers died, and many more were injured in a tragic accident. The fact that the same place where people’s lives were taken so dreadfully is now home to manatees, some of the most peaceful creatures, goes to show that there is so much more to the Estate than just a pretty picture you post.

The Tequesta were one of the first tribes in South Florida, and were inhabitants of the land long before the Deering Estate was created. They were very resourceful and would use shells they found as multipurpose tools for survival. Nestled within the private trail is the Tequesta Burial Mound where a few members of the tribe were buried. They’re buried in a circular pattern surrounding a massive oak tree. The obvious analysis is that the tree represents life growing from death, but it’s more than that. Oak trees are known for strength and stability which are both traits the Tequesta. They used their ingenuity to make tools and utilize every resource they could to sustain themselves. Eventually they went extinct due to slavery and disease, leaving very little information about them. The Tequesta are rooted deeply in the history of South Florida, yet we never learn about them in school.

Places like the Deering Estate, are excellent proof that history is more than what is displayed in our textbooks. It’s the ugly, discriminatory, hateful things that have happened that helped create the world we know today. One thing I would have liked to see at the Deering Estate, is more representation of the Bahamians because they are the ones who actually created the estate. Their website mentions the Bahamians and the Tequesta, but I didn’t see anything about them while I was there.

Vizcaya as Text: Palace of Pleasure

By Hayden Anderson of FIU on March 6th, 2022

Photographs taken by Hayden Anderson// CC by 4.0

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens surpassed all my expectations and more. The Deering’s have such a unique way of showcasing and preserving the rich culture and landscape of Miami while also incorporating elements of European architecture and art. James Deering created a haven where he and his guests could come and indulge themselves in the finer things. The hedonistic emphasis can be clearly seen from the statue of Bacchus in the entrance to the cheer decadence of every room in the house. I only wish I could have lived during their time in hopes I would be lucky enough to be a guest in this exquisite villa.

Walking in from the street, you enter into a path of luscious greenery where beautifully crafted statues are nestled. I was in awe as soon as I walked out to see the canopy of trees that perfectly framed the house. The first thing I noticed was the glass roof which I was intrigued to find out was a later addition and not in the original plans. When we walked in the house, I was amazed by the statue of Bacchus. After learning that he’s the god of wine and ecstasy, I thought it was very fitting to have him as the foyer’s centerpiece. Seeing how beautiful the entrance was, I couldn’t imagine how the rest of the house would look.

I am so incredibly envious of those who got to wake up and walk out to that breathtaking courtyard everyday. And to experience it without the glass roof, the ocean breeze blowing through; I can’t think of anything better. When I think about how taken aback I was by the Italian-inspired architecture, I realize how truly unready I am to experience the real Italian landscape.

One of my favorite parts of the tour was James Deering’s persistence with perception. What I particularly liked was the painting of children in one of the rooms, none of which were his. He wanted to make sure people perceived him, and the villa, exactly how he wanted. The other element was the library that had a wall of shelves that were covered in what look like books, but were actually fake. I think it’s really interesting because it achieves the desired look without having to buy all those books. This showcases how dedicated Deering was to making Vizcaya in his exact image.

No words can fully capture how much I loved touring Vizcaya. It’s everything I want my future home to be. I love how every room had a different art style with eccentric furniture and decor; it felt like a different story was being portrayed in each one of them. The attention to detail is utilized to maximize pleasure and luxury, as is the Miami way. The Deering’s have outdone themselves again.

Downtown as Text: Priest Point of View

By Hayden Anderson of FIU on March 27th, 2022

Photographs taken by Hayden Anderson // CC by 4.0

Having only lived in Miami for a short time, there is still so much I have yet to learn. After the past three walking tours, I’ve discovered my lack of knowledge about the history of Miami is not as uncommon as I thought. The majority of the students who were born and raised here had no idea who the Tequesta were and how much of an impact they had on the foundation of this city. The Miami-Dade school board is to blame for the absence of the Tequesta, and the real origin of Miami, in their curriculum. It is truly a shame that I am learning about the Tequesta at the same time as someone who grew up here. Besides Professor Bailly, the only other person I’ve heard even mention the tribe was the Priest we encountered at the Gesu church. The Priest was incredibly knowledgeable and shared a lot of very interesting facts about the relationship between the Tequesta and present-day Miami. In front of the church was a sign dedicated to the Tequesta which was one of my favorite parts of the whole tour. The sign and the Priest were so honest about the tribe’s history and gave them the credit that they undoubtedly deserve. While the encounter with the Priest was the part that impacted me the most, the entire tour was extremely engaging, informative, and definitely my favorite of the three we’ve done so far.

One can’t deny that Henry Flagler had a major impact on the economic growth of Miami. Flagler saw the potential that Florida had to become a popular tourist destination so he left his job in the oil business and moved to Florida. With the expansion of the railway system, construction of hotels, and agriculture growth, Floridas’s economy flourished thanks to Flagler. The recognition does not only go to Flagler, but the black workers who helped make it all possible. As thanks for their work, Flagler segregated them and forced them to live in a small part of Miami which became known as Colored Town. Having learned this, I think that having a statue of Flagler in front of the Miami Courthouse, a place that is supposed to represent justice, is simply ironic. This is just one of the numerous ways in which Miami idolizes white business men, but not the black Bahamian and Native American men who built this city with their own hands.

SoBe as Text: Deco Days

By Hayden Anderson of FIU on April 10th, 2022

Photographs taken by Hayden Anderson // CC by 4.0

When you ask someone to describe Miami, 9 times out of 10 they will include something about South Beach in their description. That’s because this is what Miami became known for, and one of the main reasons tourists come to visit on vacation. The crystal blue water, luscious greenery, towering palm trees, and pier make South Beach the perfect destination to relax and enjoy the South Florida weather.

Ocean Drive is one of my favorite places to go in Miami because of the beautiful art-deco architecture. I have always been fascinated by this style of architecture and the pastel colors and retro fonts these buildings are typically decorated with. Each hotel, restaurant, and store are unique but go together so cohesively to create a time capsule that makes you feel like you’ve gone back to the 80’s every time you walk down the street. South Beach is always a party which is the very essence of Miami.

The history of Ocean Drive is just as intriguing as the exquisite architecture it houses. As early as the 1930’s, gay people were frequenting Ocean Drive which led to the emergence of night life in Miami. Gay bars slowly began popping up which attracted more people, eventually making the South Beach area a hub for gay people. This new community allowed them a place where they could be themselves and feel accepted. There were very few places like this in the US at the time, which made it even more rare. In the 90’s, the openly gay fashion icon Gianni Versace, moved to South Beach and built the breathtaking Versace Mansion. Being openly-gay, even in a place like South Beach, comes with its risks. When Versace was killed, it was a devastating to not only the fashion community, but the gay community as well. Over the years more queer bars and restaurants have opened in the area as the gay community continues to grow in Miami. To honor the true impact this community has had on South Beach, the city of Miami painted a cross walk rainbow.

From the first time I went to South Beach, I truly loved every aspect of it. Getting to hear more in depth about its history and being able to analyze the art deco architecture was very interesting. Even though I missed half the tour, getting to experience the beautiful day with my class more than made up for it.

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