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2009

2009

My Maserati does 185…Ducati, and Arrivederci!

I posted 2 blogs today, so you should read the one below…Like I said in the previous blog, I had some internet problems so here are the last couple days:
Friday January 22: Today we took a train to Bologna. The train was very hot inside. I mentioned that to Claudio and he said that sometimes it is very cold, the Italian trains have problems finding a good temperature. The weather was a little overcast today. We heard Stairway to heaven on the radio on the bus ride to our third hotel.
We went to the Maserati factory and got a tour. Maserati is in Modena, this is where Claudio lives. It was a lot of fun to see their manufacturing processes and to see that they use lean manufacturing techniques. They even let us sit in the Maseratis!!!
After the Maserati factory tour we had our farewell dinner. It was delicious and we presented Claudio with a gift. He truly has been so much help on this trip, I am not sue what we would have done without him. For dinner we had tortellini and broth, and some different types of bread with meats and cheese and different spreads.
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Maserati, Picture by Tony Bombardo


Saturday January 23: Today we went to the Ducati factory and museum. The first Ducati bike was a kit you had to assemble to a bicyle that was not provided by Ducati. This was also a very neat place to see the manufacturing processes. They also use lean manufacturing techniques. It was nice to see this place and Maserati that are exclusively Italian vehicles. After the tour we went to the train station again to head for Roma. For the majority of the day we were on a train.
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The first Ducati Bike
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Ducati
I guess this is the last time I will be writing to you. I hope you enjoyed following us on our trip. It was fun and it is a very bittersweet to come back home. I believe we all enjoyed the trip and learned a lot. We learned a lot about different engineering techniques the ancient Romans used. We learned about Italian culture and even a little bit about ourselves.
We are now in a hotel by the airport. We have to leave at 4:30 AM to be ready for our flight at 6:10AM. We will arrive in Minneapolis at 12:30 PM tomorrow. See you there!!! My picture with the mayor of Roma and our group did not turn our so here is John Walker’s copy:
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Mayor with our group
Phrase of the day: Come si arriva alla stazione ferroviaria? pronounced kohmeh see ahr-reevah ahl-lah stahtzee-ohneh fehr-rohvee-ahree-ah. This means How do I get to the train station?

2009

Hello Again

I had some difficulty connecting to the internet in the past couple days. The pictures will be added later…sorry again, but I am having some issues loading them because I am using the hotel’s computer and do not have the software I need to upload them onto the blog. I will continue to try to upload them, but might not get them on here until we get back. With Tony’s permission, I’m going to use some of his pictures. Sorry about that, but below is what I wrote for Wednesday January 21st:
Today was cloudy as usual. We went to Michelangelo’s marble quarry. It has been raining a lot lately so we weren’t able to go down to the quarry, but we learned a lot about how they cut it and carve it. It was fascinating to see how big these marble blocks were that they were cutting. When we saw where they were carving the marble it was filled with dust and no one was wearing masks to protect their mouths and noses, we thought this was a little odd because they could do some damage to their lungs. The guy who was giving us a tour explained that they do not need masks because it is calcium carbonate and so it is safe to ingest. He said that old people used to go there to help their osteoporosis.
There was a lot of engineering involved at the marble quarry. We saw the tools they used to cut the marble and they had a liquid running on it for cooling purposes. The cooling liquid they use is also filtered and recycled which was really interesting to me. They let us take some marble home with us too!!
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A block of marble being cut, Picture by Tony Bombardo
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Our group at the marble Quarry


We drove up the mountain a ways and into a quarry. It was very muddy here and the guy who owned it came down and talked to us about it. He explained that three people work in this quarry, including him and his son. He showed us the tools they use to get the marble out of the side of the mountain.
For lunch we drove up the mountain further and searched for a place that served lard. The lard is their specialty in this town. It was a very small town and everyplace was closed for some reason, but one restaurant opened for us so that we could try the lard. It wasn’t bad, it had an interesting texture to it.
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Larderia
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Lard and bread
The leaning tower of Pisa is still leaning, we saw it today. Some of us even climbed to the top of it. It is actually shaped like a banana. In the baptistery by the leaning tower of Pisa there are two domes and the echo is very interesting so everyday they have demonstrations of the sound. You can hear the sound bouncing off the two domes and the lady who was singing made a chord by singing the different notes at different times. It was neat to hear. You are not allowed to make loud noises like she did, only the person who is working can do it. The baptistery is for people to be baptized in. This is a separate building because you were not allowed to enter the church if you were not baptized. Pisa is where Galileo was born. There were street vendors trying to sell us watches and purses and you name it. This was interesting because they were persistent in trying to get us to buy something. Some people bargained for watches to try and talk them down for the price.
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The leaning tower of Pisa at sunset, picture by Tony Bombardo
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From the top of the leaning tower of Pisa, picture by Tony Bombardo
For dinner we ate at the same place that we ate at last night. It is an interesting little restaurant that is below the ground. You have to walk down stairs to get to it. Rice and peas were served for the first course and the main course was pork with spinach and potatoes. Our dessert was tiramisu. It was good and tasted like coffee. This was very different from the meal that we had last night.
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Rice and Peas, sorry the quality is not that good
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Pork and potatoes
Phrase of the day: E troppo caro which means “that’s too expensive” pronounced eh trohp-poh kahroh.

2009

David, Dome and Dinner

Today was our first full day in Florence, or Firenze (The Italian way to say it/spell it). The weather was okay, it felt a little chilly with the wind and rained a bit. First we went to the Museum of Florence where we saw Michelangelo’s famous David among other interesting Florentine artifacts. Our tour guide explained that in old Florence they loved their music, so we saw some interesting instruments. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures inside so I don’t have any pictures to show you of the inside of the museum. David is about 15 feet tall, and there was a lot of debate about what the story behind David was. The conclusion is that it is from the famous story of David and Goliath. We learned a lot about Michelangelo, for example our tour guide told us that he used to section corpses to find out what the different muscles looked like and different parts of the body as well.
Following the museum, we went to Santa Maria del Fiore, a cathedral in Florence. The marble of this church is stripped with the colors of the Italian flag, red, white, and green Inside this church there is a liturgical clock that is still working today, with the help of some electricity and instead of moving clockwise it actually moves counterclockwise. In the front of the church above the altar there is a huge dome by Brunelleschi which was the largest of its time to be built without scaffolding. The last judgment frescoes are on the inside of the dome by Vasari.
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Santa Maria del Fiore
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Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore, picture by Tony Bombardo
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Liturgical clock inside of Santa Maria del Fiore
They have a copy of the David where it used to stand in the Piazza we went to called Piazzale Michelangelo, however it was under restoration so I don’t have any pictures of that either. We did see a neat looking sculpture called Perseus, by Cellini. This sculpture depicts Perseus beheading Medusa.
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Perseus
Tonight we are all going out for dinner together so tomorrow I will have to tell you all about that tomorrow. The phrase of the day is Dov’è il bagno? Which means “Where is the bathroom?” and is pronounced dohveh eel bahnyoh.

2009

Ciao Florence

Yesterday was a free day for us for our last day in Rome. The weather was amazing, it only rained for a little bit. January is a big sale month for shopping so some people went shopping and around the town. Some people left Rome by train to check out some ruins. At night a couple of us went to a soccer game to see the main region, Lazio play. They tied 1-1, but it was fun. This game was in the same stadium as the first soccer game we went to.
Today was a big travel day for us, the weather was not bad a little cloudy, but it did rain again. We left our lovely hotel Alimandi and got on a train to Siena. When we arrived in Siena we got a tour of the town. The tour guide who is from Siena told us all about their horse races they have in the main square. There are 17 districts of the town that compete. Only 10 can race every year. The next year the seven that didn’t race will race and they will draw between the other 10 to see what three will go again that year. Some how they bring in a bunch of sand for the horses to race on so that they do not hurt their hooves. On the corners of buildings you can see shields of the different districts to show where one district ends and another begins. We went to church Santa Maria Assunta, this church is different from the other churches we have seen in the past because it’s marble has layers of black and white. Another church we went to was called St. Catherine’s church. It was a little eerie because St. Catherine’s head and thumb are inside. We saw her preserved head and thumb, but we were not allowed to take pictures. She died in Rome so her body is there and her feet went to different places than the rest of her body.
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Shield of one of the districts
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Santa Maria Assunta
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Group in front of Santa Maria Assunta, Picture by Claudio
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Siena’s main square
After Siena we stopped to get a good view of a castle that is still standing today. Our tour coordinator, Claudio took us on a path through the mud and over a little ditch we had to jump over. Everyone’s shoes and pants got muddy. When we were done taking pictures, we went a different way that wasn’t as muddy and we joked around that we shouldn’t follow Claudio anywhere anymore. The next stop after this short pit stop was at San Gimignano. This town is fascinating because it’s a medieval town.
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View of Castle
On the outskirts of San Gimignano we had our last adventure of the night. We ventured to a vineyard where they taught us how to taste wine and fed us dinner. The guy who owns the vineyard is very animated and made us all laugh. When we arrived he told us that wine is not only to drink, but wine is poetry, wine is fantasy, and wine is love. I believe most of the group learned a lot about how you are supposed to taste wine, instead of just drink it. The meal was delicious and below you can see pictures of the food we ate. There are so many things he taught us that it would take forever to write them all down. One of the things that was the most interesting to me was at the beginning before we had our main dinner we had plates in front of us with bread, cheese, meat and chips on it. After he told us how to drink the wine he told us to taste each of the different foods with the wines and see which food we like to eat best with which wine. He did this to prove that what I might like to eat with wine, the next person may not, it is up to you and your body, not about what is the best type of food with what type of wine.
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First Course
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Main Course, lasagna
Now I am typing from the bus ride, we will take this bus to Florence where our next hotel is. We will spend a couple nights there. Word of the day: Vino which means wine. (pronounced vee noh).

2009

Here Comes the Sun, Da Da Da Da

Sorry I could not write yesterday because I was having some problems connecting to the internet in the hotel. Yesterday was John Schwietz’s birthday! It was a beautiful day out, very sunny…just like today was. It is amazing!! 🙂 The only sad thing is that we had to present today and be inside. We all worked on group presentations for different aspects of Rome. Here is the presentation on the Colosseum: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyD5Bktkx7M They did a video and it was funny. The rest of today was free time, I’m not sure where everyone went, but it is nice for all of us to have our presentations out of the way!
Yesterday was our last day with Gino and Luciano, our tour guide and our bus driver. It is sad because we had a lot of fun with them. You can see a picture with Luciano below. Because it was our last day to tour around Rome, we went to see an Aqueduct, some tombs that are preserved, and some preserved private baths. We saw some parrots today, I didn’t know that parrots lived in Italy. Another interesting thing about Italy is that palm trees can grow here. The aqueducts were an interesting aspect of Roman Engineering. We enjoyed relaxing in the park and looking at these breath taking structures.
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Some of the group at Villa Di Quintilli (one of the baths)
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Aqueduct
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Luciano
Photos in this blog are by Tony Bombardo. Phrase of the day: Allora (pronouced Ahl-loh-rah). This means “then” but also next, or and then, or moving on, etc.

2009

Rain, Rain Go Away, Come Again Some Other Day

Rise and shine! Today was a very early day for us, compared to all of the other days. We had to be ready and leave by 6:30 A. M. We were in a bus ride for 4 hours to Naples. There was a lot of traffic this morning so we were a little late. The University of Naples Federico II, the school of engineering welcomed us and some of their professors gave us presentations on things related to engineering. It was amazing to see their lab because it was massive compared to ours. Our lovely brunch can be seen below, there were lovely pastries and beverages served to us.
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Brunch
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Drew enjoying his brunch, and some others enjoying theirs in the background 
It was very nice when we were indoors, but when it came time to go to Pompeii and be outside it started to rain. In case you are wondering if January is just this rainy normally, I asked a couple different people and they confirmed that it is not. This is the most rain they have seen. Did any of you go to the Science Museum in Minnesota when they had the Pompeii exhibit? The group when to the actual town of Pompeii today and saw the different houses, malls, people, and even dogs that were preserved in hot ashes since 79 AD.
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The group at Pompeii
After Pompeii we ate at a restaurant called Fratelli La Bufala, which means the cheese of the female buffalo. They are famous for having mozzarella buffalo cheese. For starters we had some mozzarella cheese and other sides, then we each got our own pizza. These pizzas were huge and not everyone could finish theirs. After we ate all of that pizza they brought us out dessert! It was a very filling meal. After dinner some of us had a famous Italian lemon liquor called Lemmoncello. We just got back to the hotel at about 12:30am. Tomorrow we get to sleep in (9:15 is when we are leaving the hotel).
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Some of the group with our waiter, Alessandro
Phrase of the day: Sonon pieno come un uovo! This means I’m full, or literally “I’m full like an egg.” (pronounced sohnoh pee-ehnoh kohmeh oon oo-ohvoh )

2009

Il Papa

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Pope Benedict XVI, Picture by Tony Bombardo
The weather today was overcast, and was sprinkling at about 5 PM. We had an audience with Pope Benedict XVI today. It was an experience I will never forget. First different cardinals who spoke different languages read a verse from the Bible one at a time. After they were finished the Pope gave a speech in Italian, I’m not sure what he said because they did not translate it for us. Next the same cardinals came out and introduced the different groups that came out who spoke their language. A cardinal came out and told us that the Pope would like to bless any religious artifacts we have and introduced different groups who spoke English. When they said that the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering is here we all stood up and waved to the Pope. This was fun to see because all of the people who were being introduced would stand up and some of the groups would sing or play an instrument. After the cardinal would introduce people the Pope spoke to us in all of the different languages. This means that the Pope can speak French, Italian, German, English, Polish, and Spanish fluently. I don’t know about you, but I can only speak English fluently. The other languages I can speak are definitely not at the level of being fluent.
After seeing the Pope we had free time for the rest of the day. The plan for tonight is still up in the air, but a group of us might go with Barbara and John down by the Trevi Fountain and eat somewhere near by. Hope those of you who are in Minnesota are staying warm. The phrase for the day is: Dove’ è il bancomat? Pronounced dohveh eel bahn-kohmaht. This means: Where is the ATM?

2009

Roman Engineering

Wow I cannot believe that that it is already Tuesday and that we have been here for a week! I bet you can guess, yes it did rain again today. So far it has rained everyday except one. We were indoors for most of the day so I guess that is good that we did not miss nice weather.
We went to a church called San Pietro in Vincoli, or St. Peter in Chains. According to tradition, the two chains that were used to shackle St. Peter when he was in the Mamertine Prison were separated at one time and miraculously re-linked somehow. The chains were in this church shown in the picture below. The tomb of Julius II, the Pope who had St. Peter’s church in the Vatican built is in this church. Another amazing piece of artwork is in here of Michelangelo’s Moses.
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St. Peter’s Chains
Our last stop of the day was next door to San Pietro in Vincoli, which was the Universita degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza,” the Roman School of Engineering. We listened to the professors speak about many different topics of Ancient Rome and today including: ancient roman engineering, the Roman roads, Roman Bridges, and materials they used on ancient Rome. It was amazing to see an FEA (Finite Element Analysis) of the Colosseum! They took a lot of time to do it and used 13522 elements and 27588 nodes, I wish I asked them how long the analysis took to finish. It was really neat to see how the engineering aspects apply to all of the sights that we have been seeing the past week. I would go into more detail, but I think I might have lost some of you back at the FEA part.
We also got to talk to some of the Civil Engineering students about what it is like to be an Italian Engineering student, they were pretty funny. Their classrooms were beautiful, the ceilings were painted, shown below and their floors were like mosaics. We gave all of the professors certificates of appreciation and dream catchers with Italian explanations as a gift.
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Certificates and dream catchers
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The Group at the School with Civil Engineering Students
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Ceiling of classroom
Phrase of the day: I’m sorry! Sono spiacente! Pronounced: sohnoh spee-ahchehnteh

2009

Soccer game, the deputy mayor, and Flippas…

First I would like to say Happy Birthday to Mike Zimmerman! The past two days have been amazing! It has rained a little both days, but also been a little sunny. Yesterday we went to the Diocletian baths, an Ancient Roman Shopping Mall, Trajan’s column, a cat sanctuary, and where the theater was where Julius Caesar was assassinated. Trajan’s column is exactly the same height as the spur of the Quirinal Hill, which was excavated to make room from Trajan’s Forum.
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Trajan’s Column
In the morning some of us went to church at St. Peter’s Church in the Vatican. We can see the Vatican wall from our hotel. There were many interesting things about mass that was different then what we were used to. For one thing the mass was in Latin and Italian. There were still some things that were similar so we could follow along a little bit at least. At first when we got there, there were barely any people there and then half way through the mass a bunch of people showed up and filled in the seats. When it came time to receive communion instead of everyone filing out row by row it was a free for all. Everyone stood up at the same time and crowded toward the front. This was very interesting to me.
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Swiss guard guarding St. Peter’s, Picture by Tony Bombardo
The soccer game was very fun. We cheered for the Roma team, and most of the people that went bought some Roma attire. Unfortunately FrancescoTotti was injured so he could not play, or at least we think he is injured. The guy at our hotel desk told us that Totti was sick, so we assumed he meant injured. You might know one of the guys who plays for the A.C Milan team, David Beckham, we also got to see him play. The fans were all very intense and it was interesting to see how they reacted. The game ended in a tie 2 to 2.
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Scoreboard for soccer game
Today we took a tour of the tombs underneath St. Peter’s church. We got to see St. Peter’s tomb as well, which has 6 layers of tribute to him on top of it. We were not able to take pictures underground, but below you can see a picture of the Altar and canopy above ground. This canopy is called Baldacchino and is supported by spiral columns that are 66 feet high. Another interesting thing about the tombs is that there were familial tombs that had the members of the family with different faiths. One member of the family could be Pagan and have their bodies cremated and another one could be Christian and have a tomb. They believed at this time that people should be with their families in the after life so they should be buried with them to make sure of that. When you walk downstairs underground you would think that it would get colder, however, this was not the case. It was very uncomfortably hot and many people started to get dizzy. We all made it out okay though. 🙂
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Altar and Baldacchino, photo by Tony Bombardo
We went to the Sistine Chapel after that and the Vatican Museum. The Sistine Chapel was unbelievable; if you ever get a chance to look at it I highly suggest it. You cannot take pictures in the Sistine Chapel so I cannot show you how beautiful it is. Below is a picture of a really neat looking staircase that you walk down to exit the museum.
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Staircase, Picture by Tony Bombardo
After we left the Sistine Chapel we went to go visit the mayor of Rome. We got into the elevator to wait for the mayor upstairs, and someone came and told us we needed to leave the elevator right away. After this we saw why, it was because the mayor was going to use the elevator. We ended up meeting with the deputy mayor, who was a really nice guy. It felt as though we were very important people because he sat in this meeting room with us and then a photographer came in and started taking our pictures. It was an awesome experience and when we left he gave all of us a bag full of books about Rome and other goodies.
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Off to see the Mayor of Roma
For dinner we went to a restaurant owned by a former rugby player called Osteria Dell Angello. The most interesting part of our meal was the second course. We had a few different choices of what we could eat, including: rabbit, ox tail, and trippas. Trippas is cow intestine for those of you who don’t know. It was good once you stop thinking about what it is and the texture was a little different than what we are used to eating I think. Some of us also got T-shirts at the restaurant, below you can see us with the waiter.
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Trippas
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New T-shirts from the resaurant
The phrase of the day means do you speak English? Parla inglese? (pronounced pahrlah eenglehzeh.)

2009

When in Rome…

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Tonight there is a soccer game that we are going to, A.C. Milan vs. Roma. The majority of the group is going and so tonight I will not be writing a blog, but tomorrow I can give you a full update on what we did and how the soccer game is. I will still leave you with the phrase of the day. Ti piace il calcio? (prounounced tee pee-ahcheh eel kahl-choh). This means “Do you like soccer?”
Ciao!