Rediscovering Rome

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Andy Fuller | July 17, 2019 

A year can go by quickly. If you’re lucky, you know this from the beginning, like Jenna Frantik ’20 did during her third year in the School of Architecture, the year students participate in the Rome Studies Program. For her, there was a compulsion that emerged shortly after deplaning at Leonardo da Vinci International Airport and hopping on a transit into the city.

“As soon as we got into Rome, I knew it would be a city that would speak to me,” the now fifth-year architecture student remembered. (Architecture is a five-year program at Notre Dame.) “As soon as we drove in on the bus, I knew I wanted to take every opportunity in my year abroad.”

For centuries, people have shared similar sentiments. In the 18th century, English and German elites would embark on what became known as a Grand Tour of Europe, which included several sites, but Rome was the real destination. The pinnacles of cultural and spiritual expression were to be found in the Eternal City, and pilgrimages like these spawned a need for a seemingly anachronistic piece of literature: the travel guide. But this wasn’t a new phenomenon of the 1700s. On the contrary, this kind of formalization of Rome as a tourist destination dates back centuries prior.


“Rome has been a tourist destination since the fourth century, which is a fascinating way to study a city,” said Jennifer Parker, architecture librarian in the Hesburgh Libraries. “It’s interesting to see how people interacted with the same monuments and the same buildings we’re seeing today, and to be able to understand how they perceived and interpreted them is fascinating.”

Read more here. 

 by Daily Domer Staff

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