ImWalkingHere: The Italian Job

I remember learning about public space and the importance of the street environment during my early years as an architectural student. I found it difficult to understand the composition of successful public space, as I came from a town where the emphasis was placed on vehicular movement. I realized that I had never truly experienced a well-crafted and articulated street environment, until I travelled to Italy; specifically Roma and Florence. Needless to say, I brought a few pieces back with me.

Colosseo© Calvin Gillmer

Standing in front of the Colosseo was probably one of the most mesmerising experiences that I have ever encountered. One can almost feel the excitement that the Romans had experienced a few thousand years ago upon entering the magnificent arena.

I was extremely impressed by the way in which the spaces of the Colosseo were articulated. One can identify striking similarities between it and contemporary stadiums; highlighting the wealth of knowledge that the Roman Empire possessed at its pinnacle.

I found that the immense scale of the Pantheon’s interior was extremely difficult to capture in a single photograph. The sheer scale of the interior is truly unbelievable and the connection towards the heavens is accentuated by the transparency of the large Oculus.

Pantheon. © Calvin Gillmer

As I was leaving the Pantheon; feeling defeated in not being able to capture the raw beauty of the interior, I noticed a young artist sketching enthusiastically. Intrigued by his sketching, I glanced over my shoulder and captured a sneaky picture of the Pantheon.

Roman Forum. © Calvin Gillmer

The Roman Forum possesses a myriad of ruins and buildings that were once part of the civic core of the Roman Empire.

© Calvin Gillmer

The Arch of Constantine; situated next to the Colosseo, is one of the largest surviving triumphal arches.

© Calvin Gillmer

While I was wandering the streets of Rome I noticed that the Romans had placed great emphasis on preserving their rich history and architecture. The city centre is not overcrowded with insensitive developments; instead, it is left to the memory of a once great civilisation.

© Calvin Gillmer

I was rendered speechless when I entered St. Peter’s Basillica. The drama that the interior presents is strikingly magnificent, and the connection to the heavens is accentuated by the verticality of the dome.

The importance of preservation is evident throughout the city of Rome.

© Calvin Gillmer

Another major highlight during my trip was my visit to the small city of Florence. The streets are well-scaled and provide ample opportunity for exploration; away from the excitement of the tourists. I would rise early in the morning and proceed to wander through the romantic streets until I was greeted by the morning rays in one of the many remarkable piazzas.

© Calvin Gillmer

Catching the early light in the Piazza del Duomo highlights the way that the surrounding buildings are successfully scaled to not overshadow the public space.

© Calvin Gillmer

The energy in Florence is apparent throughout the day; the evening provides a completely different perspective. The streets are filled with activity and people continuously flood the public spaces as they venture onto their next destination.

Uffizi. © Calvin Gillmer

The Uffizi Gallery is situated adjacent to the Piazza del Signoria and houses many priceless artworks from the Renaissance period.

Piazza della Signoria. © Calvin Gillmer

I remember arriving in Florence with one goal in mind; reaching the Piazza Della Signoria. I traversed the cobbled paths, suitcase in hand, until I was welcomed by the beautiful sight of the Palazzo Vecchio. The piazza was the civic heart of the city for many years and is still a focal point of Florence.

What is a visit to Florence without witnessing the magnificent sculpture of David? The marble statue was sculpted by Michelangelo between 1501 and 1504 and the attention to detail is astounding.