Overseas Trips
2nd June 2013

Art Immersion Programme, Rome

2nd June 2013 – Apprehensiveness loomed over me as I set off for the one week trip in Italy. For an amateur writer who had absolutely no background knowledge about Italian art and was about to dwell in both historical and contemporary forms of it for more than an entire week with a crew I was barely acquainted with, I was close to bolting out of the airport. But I didn’t, and it turned out to be one of the greatest decisions I had ever made.

Venice is an extraordinary combination of archaic architecture, rich history and modern notions, enough to attract the eyes of thousands of wide-eyed tourists soaking up the culture underneath the scintillating sun. Corrugated rocks, ancient houses and towering sculptures depict the history of a city renowned for its enormity and monopoly over Italian trade. Even after it lost its title as Italy’s capital, the trade is prolonged by the golden magnificence of St. Mark’s Basilica, the modernity of the Venice Biennale, and the animated culture of the Venetians. From iridescent Venetian masks to the floating Venetian gondolas, from the aquamarine waters of the Grand Canal to the labyrinth of old alleys and bridges to the colorful Rialto Bridge, from the hurried jabber of Italian to the distinct clanging of church bells, Venice opened my eyes to a world beyond my habitual reality.

The Venice Biennale provided a global outlook to the rapidly developing world of contemporary arts. Each country sported a unique pavilion of their own: Hungary flaunted their fired but unexploded bombs, Indonesia shared their spiritual dynamics through ceramics, Chile recreated the old horror of apocalypse with a miniature Venice underwater; every country around the world has their story to tell, and they brought it to Venice, leaving us to contemplate and wallow ourselves in hundreds of vibrant cultures.

On the contrary, Florence demonstrated tranquility. Swept far away from the hustle and bustle of busy Venice, we were transported to a peaceful haven called Florence. Warm brown tones and cozy parks adorned the little place. The city itself is like a whimsical little girl so quaintly full of maturity and grace, with each corner and alcove presenting us with cordiality. Pretty cafés, gelato shops and trinket shops flanked the scenic Ponte Vecchio. We were lead in and out of a variety of prominent museums and galleries: the Accademia accentuated Michelangelo’s famed ‘David’, the Uffizi Gallery was lovingly garbed by Botticelli, Leonardo and other affluent names with the highlight being the celestial ‘Birth of Venus’, the CSC Sigma introduced us to the determination of the artists borne in during the Springtime Renaissance, and the Pitti Palace introduced us to the Medici’s treasured and hauntingly opulent Palatine Gallery. Who knew a pretty little city could accommodate such historical lavishness.

A quick tour of Rome and Vatican City ended our Italy trip, leaving us with a small taste and a burning desire to feast our eyes on more. Rome may be a city of ruins, but each ruin told a poignant story of its own through the elaborate architecture and artwork displayed. It is said that true grandeur comes from simple works passed down the years, and no doubt Rome’s monuments portrayed this with sincerity. Vatican City congenially received us, marching us through the strikingly wondrous St. Peter’s Basilica and the surreal Sistine Chapel – home to Michelango’s ‘The Last Judgement. A dash past the bustling Spanish Steps, a toss of the coin into the ethereal Trevi Fountain, a slip into the formidable Pantheon, a gaze at the Arch of Constantine and a few pictures by the colossal Colosseum: That was Rome to us.

Each snippet of Italy was a step into an ethereality that left my jaw dropping and my feet floating. However, despite the grandeur each monument, each museum and each city provided us with, Italy’s most compelling beauty lay within her people. A story, a painting, a sculpture – each done by another assiduous and determined person who served as another inspiration to remind us all to keep striving and pursuing our dreams.

As Dante Alighieri once wrote, “Seek and ye shall find.” In Italy, I found myself.

13Y4B Laura Julia Hokijanto

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