With just one week before the program leaves for Istanbul and only five days until our final project is due, stress levels are getting much higher among the students. However, Ozayr did take us on one last relaxing trip to loosen our drawings hands and minds before we settle in for a long weekend of crunch time and final map production.
The morning started with a bright and early bus ride (by college standards – 8 AM) to Tivoli. Energized with coffee, we piled onto a large, comfortable bus that picked us up in front of our apartments and then we proceeded to fall asleep in the leather seats until we arrived at Hadrian’s Villa. The villa was constructed by the emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD because he didn’t like the palace complex in Rome, and so created his own villa/city to live in and test out his architectural fantasies. It is well preserved and features some of the most experimental architecture of the Roman Empire- a perfect day trip for architecture students.
Upon arrival Ozayr surprised us with sweet breakfast pastries and we walked through the gates and up the hill onto the grounds of the 120 hectare villa. Ozayr relayed a history of the villa to us while we crowded around a large model of the estate, and from there we split up to explore and draw until noon. The ruins, shells of the former complex, still left us awestruck at the wealth and power of the emperor.
The grounds were huge and we never ran out of things to draw, constantly being surprised by turning around corners and seeing new vistas or massive constructions. After the morning of drawing we boarded the bus and went into Tivoli proper for a lunch of lasagna made with home-made pasta, salad, and a creamy, chocolate-covered desert.
From the restaurant we walked across the street to Villa d’Este, a beautiful Renaissance villa and garden complex. If Hadrian’s villa is a display of the limits of architecture in ancient Rome, Villa d’Este is the same for Itlaian landscaping and hydraulic engineering in the Renaissance. The gardens contain hundreds of artfully placed fountains in all different styles on a slope that overlooks the surrounding countryside. It is designed so that the path meanders through distinct areas and creates unique impressions based on where you are and which axis you are aligned to- all while keeping you within eyeshot of some type of fountain.
The sound of running water was everywhere as we explored, making for a very relaxing afternoon. Unfortunately one student dropped her phone over the edge of the garden wall and into the vineyard below, but the staff were very helpful and got it back for her- it definitely wasn’t their first time dealing with this. The only other troubles came from difficulties with rending running water, but we gave it our best shot and came out with quite a few drawings.
As the sun got low in the sky we boarded our bus back for Rome and ended our final peaceful afternoon in Italy- once we got back crunch time started, and final production began in full swing. Time now for Red Bull and coffee- good luck to all of us!