Honors junior Laura Marsolek is having an amazing experience in Italy! She is completing the Honors Course substitution, which will fill the requirements for one Honors course, and also completing work towards her Capstone project.  Here is an extract from her journal from Fall 2011.

Adventures with
Two Jewelry Historians

By Laura Marsolek – 2013 VPA – Art, Jewelry & Metals

Laura Marsolek with Mary Gilbert in Florence

Laura with Mary Gilbert in Florence

A cabinet full of renaissance cameo rings inside the Pitti Palace

A cabinet full of Renaissance cameo rings inside the Pitti Palace

Laura Marsolek at the Castellani jewelry collection in Rome.

Laura at the Castellani jewelry collection in Rome.

 My jewelry thesis mentor, Mary Gilbert Palmer, visited me this weekend in Florence and we also went to Rome together! Mary is a jewelry historian specializing in Victorian Jewelry and a Syracuse alumna. It was wonderful of her to come all the way to Florence to visit me. Her first night here, we met at the Duomo after my classes for a sandwich and then worked our way to a little chapel across the Ponte Vecchio where there’s an amazing Pontormo painting I had no idea was there. Mary studied in Florence in the 1970s so she knows all the good places, including a super cheap bookbinding paper shop and a hole in the wall wine bar.The next day we left for Rome on the fast train to get to Amanda Triossi’s house just in time for dinner. Amanda Triossi is the jewelry historian of Bvlgari jewelry. She coordinates all of their exhibitions, catalogues, archives, and completes historical research on the collection for publication. She lives in a beautiful apartment complex across from the Arco di Giano. I felt a little out of my league but it was a great experience.

The best part of our evening was when we were almost late for our curfew at the convent because no taxis were available. So Amanda offered to give us a ride home in her car. But she said, “Now our car is special.” Hmmm… what exactly does that mean, I thought. It was this super old, super loud, super small car…hilarious. Try to picture Amanda’s husband and Mary in front with me, Amanda and her friend from France in back squished into this tiny car, racing as fast as possible through Rome and feeling like the car is going to break down. It was such a hoot, everyone was laughing. Amanda said in the midst of the race, “Laura, I think this is going to be the best thing about your trip to Rome, you won’t forget this.” She was right.

The next day Mary and I went to the Vila Giulia to look at the Castellani collection of jewelry. Castellani was the name of a famous jewelry family that made Reniassance revival pieces as well as Etruscan and Ancient Roman revival pieces. They also collected Roman, Etruscan, and Renaissance artifacts so they could make copies. This was a period in time when women were fascinated with the ancient styles and wanted jewelry just like it. I loved seeing the Renaissance revival pieces. Spectacular! The micro mosaics were a particular favorite. We spent about 5 hours in that museum.

Saturday we returned to Florence to visit the Ufizzi and see the painting that my thesis is all about. On Sunday we went to the Palazzo Pitti to see the Museum of Silver and the Costume Museum. It was extremely interesting for us to see the burial clothes of Eleonora di Toledo, Cosimo, and other members of the Medici family. We capped Sunday night off with dinner at my host mother, nonna’s. In the weeks leading up to Mary’s visit, I had been telling nonna about Mary and one night nonna said “She should come over for dinner.” I think nonna asked me about 5 billion times if pasta with pesto would be all right. Yes nonna, I’m sure she’ll love whatever you feed her, as I do. We had a formal dinner in the living room for the first time ever. Nonna instantly loved Mary. She could speak a little Italian still, she studied here years ago and continues to come back to see her Italian host sister, she loves the Italian culture, etc. Nonna gave her a big hug and said “Mi piace” (I like). Nonna loves thinking of her students as her kids and she continues to write to every one of them. To meet someone who studied here years ago and continues to come back to see her host family was great to her. That’s what she wants. Once you’re family, you’re family forever.

Explore Further
The Ponte Vecchio, Florence The Uffizi Gallery Honors Course Substitution

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