Tricked by the Tour Guide

Danielle Sumoski

This is a sort of follow-up to Sara Haney’s post “Tricked by the Buti.” That was the first hike we went on, and we decided to give hiking in Italy another shot by going on a school-sponsored hike. The school had hired a tour guide that was part of a hiking club in Prato, and was going to show us around the mountain, which seemed awesome. So we woke up early, got breakfast, and headed out to meet the people going on the trip.


The hike up was great, with a site tour of parts of Prato I have never seen, plus the “wealthy” part of Prato where all the big houses and mansions are. Boy do I want to live there! Then we headed up the mountain with beautiful views even if it was a little overcast; at least there was no rain. We even saw the oldest church in Prato located a little up the mountain. We sat down to enjoy lunch on a picnic bench, and even were told that the way down was going to be a straight shot.


The way down started out fine, still in the mountain. The tour guide said we were going back on the bike path for easy walking, but we never made it there. We ended up either in the very outskirts of Prato or crossing the lines of a different city, and at one point crossed a tollbooth getting onto a highway. We then found houses, and the tour guide stopped to ask for directions. We ended up finding the river that runs down Prato, and following that back into the city. Instead of following the tour guide all the way home, though, we saw a sign for Mokha that took us back to the restaurant and we knew our way from there.


Needless to say, after these two hikes, I do not think I will be hiking again in Italy.pratohike1 pratohike2

Massimo Vignelli

Danielle Sumoski

Massimo Vignelli was born in Milan, Italy, and then moved back and forth between Italy and America throughout his years. He was inspired by Swiss Modernists such as Max Huber and Antonio Boggeri, who drove him to graphic design. In 1953 he was employed as a designer at Venini Glass in Venice and also worked on some design work. He then moved to america and taught at the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology, and worked as a designer at Container Corporation of America. He then went back to Italy to work and teach, but ended up going back to the United States.

He had a very modern design technique, where he constructed projects such as the corporate identity for American Airlines (1967); the graphics for the United States National Park Service (1977); the subway map for the MTA New York City Transit Authority (1970); and the interior design of Saint Peter’s Church in New York (1977). He also has published a book called Design: Vignelli (1990).

His most famous design, though, was the subway map for the MTA New York City Transit Authority. This is his most famous project because of all the controversy that came along once it was actually published. With its sleek, modern design, he used 45 and 90 degree angles to make the map look clean and legible rather than completely accurate. When it first came out, people went crazy criticizing his design. They said that it was illogical that Central Park was only a small gray square rather then a long green rectangle for actual size and color. They were also confused with color of water not being blue. In 1979, the ended up replacing the map with a more geographical friendly one, but designers all over will know this Italian designers name because of this map. He also argues that he had made three more maps to go along with the main one but those were never published. For type purposes, he used Helvetica as the typeface for the map, which also was a big discussion for designers. He had based his ideas off a different map in London, but stood out with the modern use of Helvetica instead of another typeface. He also ended up talking in the movie Helvetica because of this. There is now an updated version of the map on the website.

Massimo Vignelli also has created a few typefaces, which is why he is so important for both Italian and American typography. He also had made a very bold statement, saying “we use too many typefaces.” People can agree or disagree that you only need a hand full of typefaces to be a good designer, but his statement caused a lot of chatter among designers.

Overall, Vignelli has made a huge impact on design in both Italy and the United States. He has designed and constructed some very controversial things of the time, which makes design all together grow. He has inspired a lot of future designers, and is a great example of how Italian and American design can come together.

References & More Inspiration:

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Cinque Terre, Molto Bella!

Danielle Sumoski

A group of us went to Cinque Terre over the weekend. It is a place we learned about from our Italian teacher, and I’m so glad we went!  Cinque Terre is made up of 5 small villages, and we went to one of them called Manarola. I honestly think it’s the most beautiful place in the world, and everyone should go there while they are abroad- especially since it’s so close to Prato! (Also, Kevin should consider building our campus there, I would not mind waking up every morning and being blown away by beauty).

First thing when we got there was to go get food of course, and we looked for a place close to the shore, but it was really expensive. We went in a couple feet and found the most amazing place to grab lunch. Not only where the prices so much better than any other place, but they had just about EVERYTHING on their menu, and specials! We did have to wait about 20 minutes for a seat, but got a free small glass of white wine while we waited and talked to other Americans that were traveling around Italy. For 9 Euros, I had fresh lobster linguini, picked straight from the sea that was “down the hall.” Nothing can beat that!

Then we got to the even better part, swimming in crystal clear ocean blue water. It tasted a little salty of course, but nothing can beat being able to see the fish you are swimming with. You could also cliff jump if you are feeling adventurous. Spending the day in the sun was the best, I never wanted to leave.

We also got to walk around and take pictures of course, I would love to go back and visit the other 4 villages that we did not have a chance to go to, I bet they are all beautiful and unique in their own ways!

This would be the one thing you have to do while its warm out in Italy, hands down.

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Malato Means Sick

Danielle Sumoski

Being sick 2 weeks into Italy isn’t a pleasant time. Already having to miss class is one thing, but finding medicine when you don’t know any Italian yet is hard. Also not knowing where you can get certain brands / cheeper stuff is difficult. (And not having homemade chicken noodle soup in bed)

First task when being sick was to go to the doctors and find out what is actually wrong with you. So we have this certain doctor to go to who only has crazy short hours, so I couldn’t even go the first day I was ill, and the second I had to wait until 4:30 in the afternoon to see her. I finally get there and was told that she spoke English. I guess not. We used google translate to communicate, which is scary when you are allergic to certain kinds of medication. I guess she understood what I was allergic too though because I’m still alive. She then gave me chicken scratch on a piece of paper to bring to the pharmacy down the street to get the medicine I needed. Lucky, they could read her hand writing.

The next task was finding out if there was Nyquil in Italy at all so I could actually sleep at night. Luckily we have things like google now for that and Vick’s does make a European Nyquil called Medinait. I also got some really expensive cough drops because I don’t actually know how to say cough drops so I just went with whatever they gave me. One of the pharmacy’s closed to Roma has some workers who speak some English and that really helped me out. They also know me by first name now because I’ve been there 4 days straight getting different things for symptoms I am having.

The last thing was finding soup in the “summer” season in Italy. Can you believe they do not have soup all year round here? Crazy. I found one place so far that has some potato soup, but most places don’t start making soup for a couple more weeks. At least the next time I’m sick they will have it.

Still not better yet, but hopefully I will be soon. Here is a picture of all the medicine I have bought for the bug I managed to pick up.