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Study abroad trip targets contributions of Italian mathematicians, scientists

July 1, 2019

Fourteen students traveled to Italy during the spring semester to gain an understanding and appreciation for the enormous contributions of Italian mathematicians, engineers and scientists.

As a part of the Department of Mathematics’ inaugural study abroad program, the students visited Rome, Florence, Pisa, Padua and Venice to experience the cities that nurtured the mathematical genius on display, from the ancient structures of the Romans to the classic works of art and architecture from the Italian Renaissance.

In Rome, students explored the Colosseum, watched the path of sunlight from the oculus travel through the walls of the ancient Pantheon, examined original drawings by Leonardo da Vinci along with replicas built from them in the “Science Before Science Exhibition,” which commemorated the 500th anniversary of his death.

Students also had the opportunity to walk through the ancient Roman Forum, climb to the top of Castel Sant’Angelo, visit Trevi Fountain as well as Bernini’s Fountain of Four Rivers, tour the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica and colonnade, and view the collection in the Vatican Museum, including Raphael’s “School of Athens” and “The Delivery of the Keys to Saint Peter” by Pietro Perugino.

Trips to Florence, Pisa and Padua provided students the opportunity to climb to the top of Brunelleschi’s Dome in the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, view Michelangelo’s “David,” tour the Galileo Museum, visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Ufitzi Museum, the Basilica di Santa Croce where Michelangelo, Gallileo, Machiovelli and Rossini are buried, and the Pisa Cathedral where Galileo first postulated the Law of the Pendulum while watching a chandelier swing back and forth in the wind. The trip also included a visit to the Great Hall at the University of Padua where Galileo taught for 18 years and where Copernicus was a student, as well as the first Anatomy Theatre at the University of Padua.

While in Venice, students touredDoge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica, rode a vaporetto to explore the Grand Canal and the glass-blowing island of Murano, and went to the top of the bell tower in St. Mark’s Square.

The customized program gave students not only an opportunity to see all the major attractions in these Italian cities but to experience the culture as they walked through neighborhoods, used public transportation, traveled on regional trains, and enjoyed Italian food.