Icons and Monsters

This past week was more relaxing for me, but still a little stressful for Gwen. I had only my Italian Design exam scheduled for Thursday afternoon, but she had two projects to be finished for a student art show by Wednesday afternoon.

One of the courses she was taking this semester is Fresco. About halfway through the semester, her teacher asked if she would like to join in another class he was teaching, The The Medieval Bottega: Tools and Techniques of the Medieval Artist. The project was an “saint” icon on a wooden panel the way it was done in the middle ages. It seemed like a fun idea, but then it took her a few weeks to catch up to everyone else. And suddenly it was the art show. Since I had a very light week, with only the one exam, I went with her into school on Monday and helped with the icon painting. It was fun for me and OK with the teacher since she wasn’t getting marked for this class anyway.

Gwen working on her fresco

Gwen finished her fresco last Thursday, but there was some cracking as it dried. So she repaired the cracked while I worked with the gilding on her icon. Since the studio closed at 8pm, we took a little bit of the pigments home with us to continue working on the egg tempera paint. It was a team effort and by Tuesday evening it was ready for the art show. She took it to class Wednesday morning and the teacher was quite happy with it. It was amazing that she joined the class right after break and managed to turn in a final project with everyone else and even ahead of some of the folks who started at the beginning.

I took plenty of pictures of the process.
Gwen finishes the details
Wednesday evening we all went to the art show at the John Cabot art studios. We checked out all the student art work and met with Gwen’s fresco and icon painting teacher, who is a Tyler grad! Here’s a photo of the final fresco.

Final Frescos

After the show, we headed to Trastevere for dinner. It was time to celebrate Pat’s birthday…again. I love the birthday season concept. We celebrated with a wonderful dinner with very diverse types of pizza at Dar Poeta.

Pizza in Trastevere at Dar Poeta

Thursday afternoon was my last exam and I am officially finished with my sophomore year of college. It’s astounding to think I am halfway through my BFA already.

Friday was our outing to the Parco dei Mostri, The Park of the Monsters in Bomarzo. This was on our list of things to do since last Fall, but the more we researched the more we realized how difficult it would be to get there without a car. So we hired a driver for the day. It was an amazing place. It was built in the 1500s by Pier Francesco Orsini in memory of his wife Guilia. There are many fantastical creatures carved from the local stone. The design was by Pirro Ligorio, who completed St Peter’s after Michelangelo died. The gardens were abandoned for nearly three hundred years until an art lover in the 1950s restored it. It was a great day for photos.
Mason, Coriander & Gwen

When we were finished in the park, we wandered the streets of the hilltop medieval town of Bomarzo, enjoying the lovely tiny streets, ancient worn steps and breathtaking views.

Medieval Town of Bomarzo

The focus since then has been packing. It’s a challenge. I’m still deciding about shipping things like books, yes, I mostly bought books. I’m very glad I invested in a portable luggage scale back in 2009. It has been invaluable in figuring out this puzzle.

On Monday, Coriander and Mason fly back to the states and we move to a new apartment. When I set up this apartment for this semester, Gwen hadn’t yet been accepted to John Cabot and I didn’t realize that they had a longer semester. In the meantime, this apartment was booked for the last week we needed to be in Rome. So once we arrived I found a different apartment for the last week on AirBnb. We’re actually moving a little closer to the Vatican so I am hoping that we can get to the Cupola of St Peter’s, one of the few things I was hoping to do that I haven’t.

There will probably be one more update next week before we fly out of Rome. This has been an incredible experience and I’m very glad I was able to keep updating everyone at home. I know years from now as the memory fades, I’ll be able to look back on this time and be very glad I took the time to write out this experience for everyone as well as for myself.

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