All posts by Kyra Muhar

Appreciating the art and architecture of Italy

My Life Changing Experience in Italy with SPC!

The top reason for why I wanted to go to Italy in the first place was the style. The art, the architecture, and my surroundings in general. During this trip, I have made note of the recurring style of Italy.

The everyday buildings on their own look different from what we have in the United States. For one thing, Florida is loaded with mosquitos and other bugs, whereas in Italy it is very hard to spot even a single fly. The windows have no netting, and they have flaps that swing open. Many residents like to leave plants outside of said windows, and some even hang their clothes outside.

My favorite unique piece of architecture is the Colosseum. Not only is it super old, but it was home to many brutal brawls and often fatal fights, either by defeat or by an ordered execution. The architecture makes me think that it may have been used in future stadiums. The shape of the dome allows for a ring of seats around where the show would take place, with some class segregation involved as well. The Colosseum was ugly to the people in the Middle Ages, but I disagree. In fact, I heard it was quite beautiful at nighttime with the interior lighting.

Of course, I couldn’t forget the art. I was consistently amazed with the humanistic style of painting, sculpting, and crafting. Beyond all, my favorite piece of art was The Rape of the Sabine Women, by Giambologna. What I loved most about this sculpture was the fact that this was made of stone.

Just look at that hand. This man was chiseled with stone, and he has one of the smoothest hands I have ever seen. Another factor of this sculpture that I would like to commend is the composition of the three different people in the scene. They are posed so beautifully, but it looks so natural, so comforting, and it works.

Experiencing new food in Italy on my SPC Study Abroad program

Italian food

During my trip in Italy, I of course explored the different ways Italians live, versus how Americans live. One thing I experienced was something we all must experience, to survive: food. My goodness, was it different. Some background: most countries, except for the United States, ban a lot of preservatives and high fructose corn syrup. Our food lasts longer, but is ultimately worse for us. Meanwhile, food in other countries use little to no chemicals to grow food. Overall, most of the food, if I could tell that there was a difference, tasted more natural and fresh.

Food is also served differently in Italy. Now, there is still the typical restaurant choice between getting waiter service, or taking food to go, but I was referring to the actual restaurants. The only chain restaurant that I noticed was McDonald’s, to no surprise. After all, McD’s is one of the richest fast food joints on the planet, so it would make sense. Anyway, the actual, non-chain restaurants all seem similar. As in, it takes further investigation to even find the names of some of these places. They all mainly say “PIZZA,” or “PASTA,” or “GELATO.” Interesting that none of it is in Italian.

Back to the food itself: I noticed a trend of lots of pizza and pasta, but there were also some meat options as well. I feel like a lot of the food, while it is what I expected from what we have in the United States, it was a lot better. The pizza felt like it wasn’t a huge glob of dough, but rather a delicate flat food, with plenty of sauce, and not loaded with cheese (my preference). Of course, there were more exotic options.

That in the photo (pardon the camera quality), is tripe, a food I’m so unfamiliar with I almost didn’t order it, because I had no idea there was a word for “cow stomach.” The texture is exactly what I expected: kind of squishy, felt like some dark meats I’ve tried. Thanks to the sauce, it tasted amazing. I would have eaten all of it if it wasn’t for the fact that there was two other courses along with it.

Updates From Italy While On My SPC Study Abroad Program

Today was interesting. In the morning, we performed our Model UN assignment. There were nine countries to choose from, and I ended up with Saudi Arabia. In my resolution, I decided to get the members to agree with me that my request to launch more oil drillings, and to sell oil for lower prices everywhere. Of course, my resolution never passed, it was merely tied. Along with several other students’ resolutions. It seemed like no one could make up their mind. Meanwhile, I was worried on how I, a sixteen-year-old girl would have to try and justify why their women are treated as second class citizens. The United Nations experience helped me understand new perspectives. Anyway, the day really gets interesting after lunch.

Today, my peers and I visited the Vatican Museum. It was pretty packed, being the home of The Sistine Chapel (note: apparently, simply calling it The Sistine Chapel is incorrect, because in technicality there were more than one. Pardon me). Our guide, Jill, was very helpful in informing us of the artworks. And…seriously, some of the works I saw in there were incredible. All of them, actually. There was one technique that some Renaissance painters used by using correct shading and highlighting in the right places to make their two-dimensional paintings look three-dimensional. And it was no gimmick, it works. In some places, on the ceiling, what I thought were statues turned out to be completely different with a closer, more observant eye. The interior of the museum consisted of several long hallways, some more striking than others. There was painting and inspired artwork on every inch of the walls. When there was not artwork, there were hand drawn maps of parts of Italy before most of our mapping technology had been created. No devices, only math and careful observations. Every hall looked so complete. Of course, how could I forget to mention The Sistine Chapel? As crowded and as loud as it was, I was able to take in as much detail as possible. The painting at the ceiling represents God revealing himself, creating humanity, and then humanity having to pay for their sins. There were several scenes on the side, including images of Jesus Christ. With help from others, I could find the devil, who is insidiously adorable and small, sitting on the shoulder of Judah’s shoulder. I was completely enthralled with my experience, no matter how many people were there.

Exploring the Colosseum and Saint Peter’s Square on my Italy High School Study Abroad Program

Italy High School Study Abroad Program

Today was the first full day of our Italy High School Study Abroad Program. Just because it is the first, that doesn’t mean it started all too well. Jet lag hit me really hard, and I ended up sleeping two hours late, and almost missed class if it weren’t for Mr. Hesting waking us up. After that, I started to slowly wake up and come to my senses in class. Today, we explored the Colosseum. And while I may have found to Colosseum to be a work of art, I was incredibly surprised to discover that many people who lived thousands of years ago thought it was unsightly. Especially because at that time, the Colosseum was layered in some parts with shiny, lustrous metal, that was later removed and smelted for goods because of the fall of the Romans. I still enjoyed seeing the ancient monument. The Colosseum stands for winners and celebration in Rome, which is incredibly important.

The view of the Colosseum is nothing in comparison to the interior of Saint Peter’s Square. How a piece of art like that could have been constructed, I have no idea. The interior contains several sculptures of famous beings from the Bible, and the ceiling is, at its lowest, probably around thirty feet tall, and at some points taller than fifty feet. The sacred building is thousands of years old, yet it is still in pristine condition. We went to Saint Peter’s to witness a Catholic church mass. Now, I am not affiliated with any religion, so this is the first mass I have ever attended. The mass was in Italian, so I didn’t understand it, but there was a lot of priests talking, the audience standing, then sitting, then standing again, and so on. A few of the attendees were praying at some points, and there was some singing. I’m not sure if I was missing the actual mass by staring at and being enthralled in the scenery instead. I believe we are going back there later this week, with an in-depth tour. I cannot wait.