A group of Duke students pose at the Palazzo Medici palace in Florence, Italy.

Duke Diary Dispatch: In Florence, a Renaissance immersion

As the week continued, one of my favorite experiences was the cooking class we went to at Il Salotto di Penelope! Here, we learned about pasta in different regions of Italy and heard about some of the history behind the dishes. In class, we’ve discussed the importance of fresh, sustainable, and ethical foods, so it was great to see it in practice. I’m far from being a good cook but, with our great instructors, I learned to make tagliatelle al ragù, a signature Bolognese dish. We all sat down that night and enjoyed the pasta we made from scratch. I can’t wait to bring that recipe back home! That night, we prepared for our next trip to Venice.

Our first visit in this city was La Fenice theater or “the Phoenix.” After seeing other theaters, I expected a similar architecture, but I was shocked by the beauty of this opera house.

Teatro La Fenice in Venice. Photo by Stephany Perez-Sanchez

As I stepped in, I was drawn to the light blue ceiling centered by a chandelier. The walls were covered in golden leaves and faces of famous operettist. The name predicted this theater’s fate as it had experienced two fires. Despite the damages, the restorations preserved this historic building and the legacy left by the performances. Our next excursion was in Doge’s Palace, the heart of political life for the previous Republic of Venice. As the day was winding down, I enjoyed a gondola ride before saying goodbye to this city.

With Venice off my bucket list, I returned to Bologna and prepared to travel to Rome the next day. We first went to see the Colosseum and then headed to the Roman Forum. These historical sites left me speechless as I thought of the civilizations that had established their lives here. Next, we went to Vatican City where we saw St. Peter’s Church in passing on our way to the Vatican Museum. I was in awe to see some of these legendary works in person: Cellini’s Perseus with the Head of Medusa, Raphael’s The School of Athens, and of course, the Sistine Chapel. As I stepped into the church, I was left speechless. The Last Judgement was a sight to behold. In a room full of crammed people, I saw the admiration in everyone’s eyes. This was truly one of the most impressive works of art I had seen. With a few hours left of our trip, I met up with a friend doing the Duke in Rome program. (You can find Duke students anywhere!) We went to see the Trevi Fountain and quickly saw the Pantheon before rushing to the train station. Now finishing my fourth week, I’m looking forward to my trip to Milan and Switzerland. Until next time!