Archive for May, 2012|Monthly archive page

More than the seeing of sights

In Italian Media, Uncategorized on May 25, 2012 at 12:47 am

“Certainly travel is more than seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent in the ideas of living,” — Miriam Beard.

I have to agree with the above quote that I’ve been reading off of  a Stila make-up palette. This trip was so much more than just seeing the beautiful places in Italy and meeting professionals in the communications field. It was about getting a larger perspective and integrating other ways of empiricism.

Tuesday was our travel home day. We drove on a bus for around five hours to Rome and then after a nine hour flight we landed in Philadelphia. The first thing I did upon landing was run to Dunkin Donuts for the biggest Iced Coffee ever. While I was sipping in the blueberry sugared goodness I was wondering why. The coffee in Italy was amazing, so much better and so different. But somehow the familiar is comforting too.

One difference that for me was a good microcosm of the whole experience and differences was coffee. I am a coffee addict and I life my life on the run. I’m always sprinting from one place to another with a huge coffee in my hand.  But in Italy, the espresso or Latte or Cappuccino was small and adorable and hand crafted. It always came in a glass or mug that was clearly meant to be drank at the counter or Cafe’. Drinking coffee was a social event, meant to be enjoyable and relaxing. Quite different.

Aside from cataloging the differences in my mind in twitter usage, media funding and even the way journalists become journalists in Italy, I hope that I can take a lesson from this and slow down every now and then. I hope to think more about the media’s function and how communication has similar goals universally.

After the experience in Philadelphia, we made it home to Pittsburgh. The dichotomy of these two cities also reminded me of something that happened in Sorrento. When we were shopping in one of the stores, one of the cashiers spoke really good English. He asked us where we were from and we said Pennsylvania.  His reply was “Near Philadelphia?” and Kalea and my’s gut reaction was no! We explained to him how sports rivalries and also proximity of these two cities make them often in competition with one another. It was cool too because he gave us examples of cities in Italy who feel the same way. Obviously, they are close and share customs, culture and life. But people like to identify with where they are from (and especially that places soccer or, ahem, hockey team)

Well now I’m back in Pittsburgh but I know this is something I’ll never forget:)



Positively Positano

In Italian Media, Uncategorized on May 22, 2012 at 12:41 am

Monday was our last day in Italy:( We spent it in Sorrento and it began with a panel on PR and Tourism in Sorrento and along the Amalfi Coast.  Our program took place at the San’t Anna Institute and I can’t believe how unbeliveably welcoming and helpful they were to us! After leaving they even put together a Facebook Gallery of our visit. We spoke with the creator of a Tourist Train around Sorrento, the people of the Sorrentum Magazine and even officials from the local government. They all had a great number of interesting things to say about tourism to the area and the web and printed tools and materials that they use to pull in these people.

It was neat to know that a lot of this media work is volunteer and is done out of passion for the area and its history and offerings. I can totally understand why, too! We only spent a couple of days there and I fell in love!

But I’m positive that my favorite part of the morning panel program was meeting the journalists from Positano news. Michele Cinque was one of the founders of the online newspaper and brought up a number of really interesting points about their outlet.

Positano news is successful because of the niche market they found in covering local news. They also discuss national news, but that is covered in many other places so the specialization for them is important. They had great stats on the phones and mobile devices that were making use of their mobile applications and they also are one of the only news sources that we learned about while in Italy that doesn’t associate themselves with a political party.

After the morning excursion, we had the afternoon free do do what we wanted. We of course did some shopping but then we found this gorgeous spot. With snacks and Italian magazines, we lounged for a little and tried to take in all of Amalfi and the unreal surroundings.

That night we went to a Tarantella show with lots of food, music and dancing. It was neat seeing some of the Neapolitan dance, especially because I did that in a show a few times when I was younger and I remember wearing those costumes!

It was sad that it was our last day, but I enjoyed our toast on the roof and the way that it didn’t feel quite over yet.

Volcanos, Earthquakes, Oh my!

In Italian Media, Uncategorized on May 21, 2012 at 12:40 am

So today, I felt an earthquake and saw a volcano. And neither of those were even the highlight!

Today really started with me thinking that I felt an earthquake. I woke up at 4am and felt like the room shook just a tiny bit. It was super minor and lasted about like 10 seconds, but after hearing about how Italy is prone to earthquakes in one of our tours, I supposed by constantly overactive imagination had the best of me.

BUT there was an earthquake in central Italy and maybe I felt a small outskirt of it. Crazy.

This morning however we woke up and had our last breakfast in Firenza. We drug all of our bags and purchase around various corners of the city to line up at the train station. We took a high speed train from Florenze to Salermo, and after further transportation we will ended up traveling down the Amalfi Coast and to our hotel in Sorrento.

The train station was a cool experience. Even the walls and clocks of a train station in  Florence have artwork and beauty. I was saying at home a place like that would have a picture of like Lady Gaga. I didn’t see as many advertisements in the station as I would have expected either. I feel like in America even the tickets have sponsors and advertisements and Italians seem to reach their audiences in different ways. It was interesting!

Being on the train is really neat. I wish I had the opportunity to take more trains. Gazing out the window, I realize that I’ve gotten used to this beautiful landscape. Seeing ancient cities, vast cathedrals and gorgeous architecture is not exactly something it is easy to get used to but I am not going to know how to handle not seeing all of the beauty all the time!

After we got off the train, we drove through Naples and past Pompeii. Like THE Pompeii where Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. It has been unreal seeing all of these places I’ve learned about since the second grade up close.

Up next was the weaving through and around the high and narrow-landed mountains of the Amalfi Coast. This was probably my absolute favorite part of the entire trip. We saw Positano where all of the celebs hang out and some of the most breathtaking views on the planet:

The more I see of Italy, the more I’m convinced its the prettiest place on earth.

Symbolism in Firenze

In Italian Media, Uncategorized on May 20, 2012 at 12:39 am

We went on a walking tour of Florence today. Beginning with learning about the Meddici family, we eventually ended up admiring the Statue of David.

I learned that walking around Florence is quite like examining a good poem: symbolism everywhere. From the dates chosen for the opening of events and unveiling of statues to the colors painted on the Duomo, each little piece of the whole has meaning.

The red, white, and green colors both on the Italian Flag at on the beautiful Duomo have several meanings. The red represents bloodshed in the creation of Italy, the green represents nature and fertility and lastly the white stands for the snow of the Alps which separates Italy from Europe. The three also stand for faith, hope and love in the church.

As we were walking around and admiring the statues and the history, I couldn’t get over just how in depth and amazing everything was. We were looking at places and statues made hundreds of years ago. In the museum with the Statue of David were the unfinished sculptures of Michangelo. Aside from being an instrument to demonstrate the way in which these famous works of art were created, they also showed his care and his genius.

When we finally came to David, I was surprised at how stunning it was. As something that many people see their whole lives in books and representations to be looking at the physical statue is disorienting. He was larger and more commanding than I anticipated. It is a piece of art which commands your attention and I’m so excited to  have had the opportunity to see some of the amazing works near as well.

Our tour guide also told us that Florence has the largest amount of art in the world and also the oldest museum in Europe.

After the tour we had the afternoon to explore, shop and eat. It rained for really the first time since we’ve been here, so we took cover in and out of shops and Gelatorrias. I had this frozen coffee drink called a “Café Zero” which was surprisingly like an American icecream or something that you would see at a fair or an amusement park. It was again crazy, as I’ve noticed everywhere that we have been in Italy, to see incomparable art works and architectural structures across the street from modern establishments.

The Duomo of Firenze, which is arguably the most beautiful structure I’ve ever stood next to in my life, is also across the street from an Intimissi and other unexpected stores. I guess this shows the draw of tourism, but it is also representative of another way of living. At home if I am shopping at the mall and I look out the window, I see rows and rows of parking lots. Here in Italy, you can see a church dating back to the 1200s that took over 200 years to construct. No big deal. (Jokes)

At night we had a group dinner at Za-Za (Link here). This is probably my favorite place that we have eaten at so far, it is beautifully quaint and Italian and the food was amazing.

Photographie e’ Firenze

In Italian Media, Uncategorized on May 19, 2012 at 12:39 am

Yesterday was our first day in Florence or Firenze. Immediately you can tell it has a different feel but is still completely Italian.

The majority of our day was a lot like Newton’s Law. That whole object in motion stays in motion, object at rest stays at rest thing. We began walking to the Florence University of the Arts and just kept going and going until we got there. I forgot where that we had a destination and just ended up looking at all of the (as I’ve noticed are just everywhere in Italy) insanely gorgeous churches, architectural structures and fashionable stores.

When we got there we heard a lecture from three photographers: Gary, Jacobo and Piedro. They spoke initially about the history and development of photography and eventually moved on to discuss the current state of the industry and the way in which it is integrated with technology.

One part of the lecture that I found particularly interesting was the discussion of photography in the civil war and the way in which bodies would be moved and images constructed. It was a challenge then to have just one photography to use and took even longer before these photographs could be printed or distributed. Since then it has become so easy to take pictures of anything and everything. Instagram allows a snapshot to be taken and shared in 15 places in under a minute. What’s funny though is that despite all of the advances in technology and their abilty to make photo distribution ubiquitous, we WANT instagram to make our photos look like they came from the Civil War with the antique filters and prints.

We then had lunch at the Florence University of the Arts in a partnership space operated by their event management students and culinary students. It was crazy delicious, but eating a large Italian meal in the middle of the day made me really tired! Its certainly a cultural difference, and also the time when I felt like an object at rest, stays at rest.

After prompted by a force, the objects went to a refurnished monastery to take photos and practice portraits with Piedro of the university of the arts. It was a really cool space that serves as labs and work spaces for artists.

Later in the evening, Kalea, Mary and I wandered back into the heart of town and ate a delicious dinner looking out at the Duomo. It is such a massive and gorgeous structure, we had to spend some time just taking it all in!

A-see something gorgeous

In Italian Media, Uncategorized on May 17, 2012 at 12:34 am

We woke up to our last morning sky in Rome when it was barely midnight at home. With a long day of traveling ahead, I shoved everything super messily into my bag and headed out to Assisi.

Our bus stopped along the way at a rest stop that certainly didn’t look anything like a rest stop I’ve ever seen! Even along a highway, the espresso and cappuccino came in tea cups or coffee cups and were meant to be drank there at the bar and not taken with you!

We spotted a map at the rest stop.  Looking at the United States, Pittsburgh was marked! Not that I miss home at all, it was just strange because I feel like it’s not a city usually marked on a world map. It was also abbreviated “Pittsb.”

After that we arrived at Assisi. Seriously around every hairpin turn the view got more and more unbelievable. It was epically gorgeous and I had to pinch myself all day today to make sure I was still breathing. We checked out the churches of Saint Claire and Saint Francis.

I remember learning about St. Francis in grade school and seeing the three-part church constructed in his honor and the place where he is buried was unreal. The artwork on the walls and the paintings were things I’d seen so many times in books and are so beautiful in person. As long as we have been seeing unbelievable art here, I’m still having trouble swallowing how old these constructions are and appreciating the condition that they are still in.

I’ll never forget our tour of St. Francis and our tour guide, who was from near Philadelphia. (I didn’t have time to ask him if he was a Flyers fan). The whole time we were walking around, he kept asking us to respond to how the place made us feel. I was so impressed to know that they still celebrate mass there!  After the tour I asked him how he ended up there and he talked about realizing that there are more important things in life and that the philosophical and the spiritual are worth dedicating your time to.

It was such an interesting concept. And maybe he is not far off because if you can live in a place that beautiful and spend your days talking about history and art that you are passionate about, how bad can it be?

After leaving Assisi, we ended up in Siena. The living spaces, traditions and churches that we saw there are indescribable. It looked so incredibly “Italy.” I don’t understand how each place gets even more beautiful than the next!

I was also taken aback by the fact that there was a church almost 1000 years old that could make me feel like I was in another time. But just down the street (or hill of cobblestones) was an expensive shoe store and I place where I bought make up. This strange combination of gorgeous history and fashionable present is all around what we’ve seen so far and I love it!

One last bus ride landed us in Florence, where our internet connection is not being so fabulous. We have the day tomorrow at Florence University of the Arts and I’ll have to play photographer. I’m thinking, though, that more than likely the gorgeous scenes around here couldn’t make bad pictures so hopefully my lack of picture-taking skill won’t sneak through.

Socials Medias in Roma

In Italian Media, Uncategorized on May 16, 2012 at 12:33 am

Before visiting the above “most hipster place ever” or Art Attack Advertising Agency in Rome, we began the day like typical Romans should. Mary, Kalea and I had a cappuccino and an apple croissant standing at a bar up the street.  I just can’t understand why everything here tastes amazing. I have never ever liked pastries or desserts, but one bite of anything in Rome and I’m hooked and wanting more.

Our time at Art Attack though was even more delicious than the breakfast. There were so many interesting things I don’t even know where to begin. They walked us in a day through the life of the impact of Italian Advertising (oddly, it starts even at the coffee bar!) and also showed us some case studies of their work. I couldn’t get over how welcoming and fashionable they were. We learned that within the population of 61 million in Italy, there are 25 million smart phones, but the use of social sharing and especially the use of Twitter are developing quite slowly.

They said the most followed person by Italians on twitter was the singer Jovanotti and even he had only almost 1 million followers. Compare that with the millions that American Athletes and Hollywood Socialites enjoy and there alone is a great difference.

They showed us a Facebook application that they designed for Tangled and my social media nerd alert was all over my face! I was so impressed with not only their creative ideas but also the execution of their campaigns. One of the speakers, Andreo Ciuli, talked to us about connecting social campaigns with the real. They held real time street events to promote their cowboys and aliens campaign and even tried to bring the real life onto the social with a social television campaign.

I thought this was crazy amounts of interesting because sometimes it is so easy to get lost in the social side and forget completely that the reason it all works is because of the people who love it and use it. I hope to integrate reality and grounding into social media work!

IS this even real life?

IS this even real life?

Afterwards we had an unbelievable lunch on an outdoor terrace and I spoke with another employee of Art Attack, Matteo Ambrogi. Just in passing I asked him about Twitter and Facebook surrounding sporting events. I never thought about it, but my dream job to work in social communications and new media for a hockey team is entirely based on the suppositions that conversations are constantly happening surrounding it and that people will utilize the online availabilities.  However, Ambrogi told me that although “football” is a huge deal in Rome, not many of the aforementioned 25 million smart phone users ever tweet about the events! This was earth shattering for me, but it makes sense because of the culture and the nature of the sharing habits. I am super curious to watch this unfold and see what efforts the World Cup and the Olympics coming up do internationally to reach social communications surrounding Italian or other European sports.

After that we went to visit La Repubblica, the biggest newspaper in Italy. Their offices were located in the most modern building I have seen since we’ve been here and their technologies, methods and minds matched perfectly. We took a tour and talked to some journalists and web developers. One thing that really stood out for me there was that the publishing company that runs the daily, and its many regional papers, weeklies and magazines also operates its own advertising agency taking outside clients. When I attended an SPJ conference in Michigan, one speaker advocated this practice because journalists know best how to tell stories. The two concepts reminded me of one another and I’m interested in how it works.

After these two visits, we spent an hour or so walking around the Coliseum and headed out for a huge dinner and some wine. We finished up the night driving around Roma and seeing all of the beautiful sights light up at night.

Viva La Papa!

In Italian Media, Uncategorized on May 15, 2012 at 12:29 am

While today ended up being one of the most inspirational and enlightening experiences of my academic life, it began with a desperate search for cappuccino with Richelle. We arrived near the Vatican city before 9am and were mostly feeling excited, but sleepy.

After racing in and out of little Cafes, Bars and restaurants, and following a man with some empty expresso cups through dangerous Italian traffic, we learned the word “Portoviro” or take away. We utilized this important knowledge to obtain some such needed Roman coffee and start off our unbelieveable day.

We visited the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Holy See Press Office as well as the Vatican Newspaper and Radio. Throughout our entire time within the Vatican walls and also in the extraterrestrial territories owned by the Vatican I was completely overwhelmed by the feelings of belonging, competency, and family. I feel so amazingly lucky to have met a group of such talented communicators and journalists. The way in which they are on the cutting edge of technology and work to develop content in languages and messages that reach around the world is sobering.

My favorite part of the day was listening to the Secretary of the Pontifical Council of Social Communications, Monsignor Paul Tighe. I wrote my research paper for this class on their office and its most recent development,, an aggregate of Vatican media content and a web communications tool. Studying their use of social media platforms and multimedia was enlightening, but to actually meet the people putting together these efforts and feel their sense of dedication and knowledge even added another dimension to it.

With the history and widespread nature of the Catholic Church, there is certainly a lot of news in need of dissemination.

Records of the first ever issue, we took a tour of the archives. History everywhere!

Today was like a walk through the way in which this small city state communicates to the world.

We also went into Vatican Radio, where I actually shed a couple of tears in admiration. Ever since graduation, my friends have been teasing me because I haven’t cried at all. But meeting with Shawn Patrick Lovett and seeing his dedication to the Vatican Radio and just to his craft set me over the edge (just a little). From the moment he walked into the room, his pride for his work and knowledge of communications was unmistakeable. He later told us stories about his time there that would warm anyone’s heart. It is always just so cool to see someone who truly loves what they do and so passionately wants to share it with the world.

We also heard so much today about the Vatican’s role in warfare and hard times throughout Europe. The history and interconnection between the radio broadcasts and meaningful communications with the populations of the times was evident and hopefully something that I can look further into!

The crazy thing was that I couldn’t help but think how fun it could be to get involved with the social communications, especially with the quickly developing Twitter and Facebook at the Vatican. Really, tweeting for an institution such as the Vatican requires the same skills as say a Hockey team or a university.  It just requires a passion, good reporting skills and a strong knowledge base of where to begin and continue and search for content for the new media and or social media strategy!

After probably one of the most encouraging days ever considering the future of communications and just thinking about jobs and happiness, we also went shopping. How much better can it get? I bought some magazines in Italian and a pair of shoes from some really cool shoe story. Made in Italy of course!

After that we stumbled upon (without the computer version, like just the actual walking and stumbling) a restaurant near our apartments. I had a traditional Roman pasta dish with bacon and cheese and some Rotta Vino.

Tomorrow is our last day in Rome, but I am so thankful for all of the inspiring people that we have met here, all of the history that just smacks you in the face constantly, and even the gorgeous warm weather and blue skies.

Communications– a worldwide concept?

In Italian Media, Uncategorized on May 14, 2012 at 12:28 am

We didn’t get to see much of the campus, but AUR or the American University of Rome is a tiny college with 60 percent study abroad students. We got there by bus early this morning to hear from two professors on media topics.  Before the lectures began an Italian Teacher named Jenny told us a little bit about the institution and her own background. Listening to her travel through academia and her passion for Rome and for learning was really encouraging and exciting. One part of this trip which really sticks out is all of the different perspectives of education and media. Jenny talked about the style of teaching in Italian Universities (mainly lectures) versus the American style or small class size structure.

The first lecture that we heard was from Prof. James Walston who discussed what qualified as news in Italy and where Italians mainly get their news. I learned about how the news in this country is never explicitly censored, but journalists often feel some sort of pressure or better phrased– obligation to their company. There are three public broadcasting channels on RYE. The first was the christian democratic channel later followed by the socialist channel. In the 1970s as the Communists grew to be a bigger part of the government and began RYE 3.

The newspapers in Italy are mainly associated with a political party or interest group and recieve some sort of government funding. This is really different than at home.

The second lecture that we heard was about the Amanda Knox trial, which we had already learned some about before going. It was crazy to try to follow all of the details of that experience but during the process I learned that Halloween is not really recognized as a holiday or a big deal in Italy and I think that is sad. I also saw the importance of headlines. A lot of newspaper coverage in 2007 and 2008 painted a picture of Knox using the words and descriptions in headlines. Different cultures can make different uses out of them and as we saw in the lecture, they can change the impact of news output.

I was then so content on a bus ride out to Sky Italia, the TV headquarters. We watched villas and a road that eventually leads to France pass by us as we drove and met some really cool journalists there. As we were walking in a live broadcast about the loss of German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in progress. I was surprised by all of the production action and movement in the studio going on during the live broadcast.

I did learn that Sky Italia has reporters and correspondents in Cairo, the US, Brussels, Tokyo and others. It is amazing how connected European stations seem to be and the way in which they cover such a broad range of international news and politics. This seems to be really important, especially in the EU, because of the inter-connectivity of the global world and economy. It was no surprise to see the coverage of Germany too with the euroarea connection and financial troubles!

But the part of today which stuck out the most for me was meeting Alessandre, a journalist working for the foreign desk who can speak six languages. I can’t even imagine! I wish that I could speak that many languages, and I’ve had trouble just trying to communicate in Italian since we have been here. It seems to me that that is what communications as a profession is all about though. When asked what her favorite story to cover was, she responded going to the US to cover the Obama election. At first I was shocked by this. After thinking about it though it made sense that that was something I was used to always seeing coverage of. What I would have thought of as amazingly interesting is probably for her something she covers every single day. At any rate, visiting Sky Italia was a great experience and even more reinforced the need to know what is going on in the world globally and work interconnected as communicators and journalists get the news out.

One Caffee Freddo, per favore

In Italian Media, Uncategorized on May 13, 2012 at 1:26 am

When in Rome, Sleep is not totally necessary.  I decided it is better to sleep for like, the rest of my life and enjoy as much of Italy (also life) as I can. I woke up early today and went to Mass at a Church near our Hotel. The entire service was in Italian and I didn’t understand a word of it, but it was a really interesting experience. Its funny how you can still understand a message no matter what the language.

The world's most perfect cup of coffee.

The world’s most perfect cup of coffee.

After that, my roommate Mary and I finally gained the best and most important experience of Rome: a morning Cappuccino. We found a little place near where we were staying and enjoyed the perfect morning activity of coffee drinking and Rome people watching. The cars here are fun to spot. I’ve never seen so many SMART cars or little cars in my life. But we also saw a few Ford and American-made vehicles which was surprising to me.

Our plan was to make it back to the Vatican for his weekly Papal address. The only problem was there was just three of us, and so much of Rome. I’ve been pretty impressed with my navigation skills since we got here and have been able to remember exactly how to get back to places we have already been. However, not speaking the language nor really having a fantastic grip on where we are made it hard for us to find new places. That plus four super crowded Rome #40 buses kept us away from our plan.

I wasn’t disappointed though because we still found so many amazing ways to spend our free day in the city. We started just wandering around and came across the coolest toy shop as well as an assortment of museums.  We ventured briefly into an ancient roman architecture museum as well as some amazing memorabilia located in the Altare della Patria or Alter of the Nation.

One thing that I noticed and was interested in was the use of languages in museums. Usually browsing through a museum, people will complain about or grow bored with reading descriptions and signage.  There is often more to read than can ever be read. This may have been the case in some of the places that we went today, but not for us anyways because we cannot read Italian! I’ve never had the experience of not having a clue what I was looking at in a setting like that. It made me think about communications at establishments. Where is the line drawn between communicating to your population and communicating to tourists? How do you decide what is right or what is too much or too little, assuming that the people visiting a museum are likely not locals?

But it wasn’t all historical or educational, we made sure to do some serious shopping as well. After enjoying a “Caffe Freddo” or Iced Coffee with lunch, we checked out a Sephora, some local shops, and back to the grocery store for unique and awesome snacks. We especially needed more chocolate Kinder Eggs, because they are my favorite foreign treat.

Tomorrow we start the media visits bright and early! I was googling some things about the places we are going to visit when I noticed that we are in! Google does the coolest things with their animations and adaptions and I’m secretly really excited that it automatically switched over for me.