Studying Historic Italian Architecture

Sometimes it takes hearing things three times before they click. I traveled to Italy for the first time as a student at Virginia Tech. That was in 2002. Now, thirteen years later, I am taking a class by a professor who is an astute historian. It’s enjoyable to learn from someone who can sight off exact building dates from architecture built in the 1400’s to now, and probably earlier depending on the structure. The history theory class I’ve taken this semester has offered that third opportunity to learn about the same thing. I’m hopeful that this time I’m retaining the information.

Michelangelo’s square, the venetian library of Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana  on San Marco and Bramante’s forced perspective at the altar of Santa Maria presso San Satiro church are among many works that I’ve learned more about this semester.

palazzo conservatori miche en museicapitolini org


stanta maria delle grazie wga dot hu milan(The photographs above were found online.)

Learning about these again prompted me to pull out photographs from my 2002 study abroad, and define the places that I’ve spent the years since wondering again about what it was that I visited.

8 Study Abroad Exploration

outside Parma


Montezuma’s Castle

Arizona Hiking


Montezuma’s Castle


Montezuma’s Castle

sits too tall to climb without ladders

pale white adobes, pressed

together with women palms

centuries ago

since then, ancient sycamores

grow in the streambeds.


The next day, we closed in on the South Rim

the north face of Humphreys began to fade

to a mere backdrop

left to stand with common tourists in the

amazement of nature

over the erosion of another natural wonder.


Photo of Montezuma’s Castle from A Year on the Road

Hiking in Sedona ~ 2012

Sedona AZ

Open Sedona

Sun iron details

around gated entrances

open Sedona.


A tall ponderosa Pin forest

along the drive of oak creek canyon falls

music beats through the intimate canyon river


From where we lodged we walked

around bell rock and the courthouse

with long shadows stepping on

hollow rock sounds

around the vortex.


The agave blooms life size

lily pad blossoms

held skyward and toward

the simple and very significant structure

The Chapel of the Holy Cross

we see from a climb up

Cathedral Rock.


Psychedelic colors of the desert blend

between sky blue, white purple, green

red-pink and lean down to the

Verde Valley, lush tees around Oak Creek

where small black birds open up a bright white

wing span.


Sedona AZ

Las Vegas to Laughlin


Dressing up and dressing off


In Vegas we stayed at a castle

a screaming floor full of ‘winners’

they’d made it here

landed in a bleak desert

from the sky or over dry land.


We’ve projected beyond

the desert people camps

the lonely fifty mile road

through a reservation

to a glass U walk suspended

over a natural wonder.


But most people stay

in Vegas, if they visit Nevada

the ‘on’ switch turns at 8pm.

Quiet malls become clubs with

long lines and the noise of the street

belongs inside by night.


Peace may only rest in the cliff cracks

of Zion two hundred miles east

or along the Colorado still running in Laughlin.

The Colorado

Humphreys Peak, Flagstaff

It hovers over the city dwellers, peeking around city buildings, train travelers, and from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.



Thirty miles north of Sedona

lives the summer homes

of most desert dwellers, and the shadow

of Arizona’s highest peak.


We’d come to ‘Flag’ to climb Mt. Humpheys

the day of rest before

found us lolly-gagging around

easily paved tourist attractions that left

us feeling empty.


We ate across the tracks before the train

bisected the city again

a hipster town, complete with

a university from the

historic landmarks

old hotels where New Years Eve

parties were spent watching

the pinecone drop

outside Weatherford Hotel.


Humphreys began at the low pine spread

easy, slow switch-backs in the Aspen forest

a bright green fern floor before the tall

white legs


Careful steps climb for two-thirds of the way

watching roots and rock trip your feet

until knee lifts climb you the

last tired third to the top

the sand and lava rock tundra

of a volcano we can make out

at the peak, over the rock scramble

blew one million years ago.


A live hive by the top

small hungry flies at 12,000 feet

mountains south of us were draped in pines

a soft carpet of Aspen lies in the valley

crooks below the mountain.

Climbing Humphreys

Humphreys Peak, Arizona

Humphries View 

Climbing Humphreys


We walked a grass meadow to the forest edge

the lime green new growth of the pine

spread and opened a mile in to expose a hill of rock

too great for human hands

The easy slow switch backs lead through Aspen

tall white trunks rise from the fern forest floor.

We stumble over large rocks and exposed roots

the first two miles, getting acclimated to 11,000 ft

and then the knee lifts begin, slow scrambling past

false peaks to make it on top of an ancient volcano.


There is a constant buzz at 12,633 feet, a live hive

hungry flies we see

south mountains draped in pines

a soft carpet of Aspen lies in the valley crooks below

The 360 degree view affords us the view of the North Rim and Walnut Canyon by just turning

a simple circle.


The next day we watched Humphreys in the rear view mirror

Onward to see the Grand Canyon South rim as

soft sandaled tourists.


The Grand Canyon