Having spent a semester studying in Perugia, Italy, Gloribel “Glori” Difo ’20 became so captivated with the city that she decided to take what she saw and learned to create an interdisciplinary senior project: A Walking Tour of Perugia, Italy: Exploring the Building Stones Used in the City’s Construction.
“Ultimately, I connected my study abroad experience in Perugia to my senior project by researching the geology, history, and archaeology of the city’s architecture and compiling it into a walking tour booklet for anyone interested in exploring this historic city through a geologic lens,” said Difo, a geosciences major.
Hometown: Utica, N.Y
High school: Thomas R. Proctor Senior High School
She said the goal of her project “was to create a geologic walking tour that provides insight on the common locally quarried building materials used to construct much of the beautiful architecture found in the historic city.”
Difo said when she decided to study in Italy, she wanted to be in a smaller city that was less tourist heavy than cities like Rome or Florence, and chose Perugia. “However, it wasn’t until after I arrived that I began to make connections between the local geology, architecture and history of the city,” she said. “I was astonished by the original ancient structures that have stood strong over thousands of years and are now incorporated into the modern city.”
Perugia is known for its city center, which, according to Difo, features wonderfully preserved architecture. Many of the impressive structures found throughout the city trace back to the third century B.C. when the city was first settled. “Perugia’s city center is perfect for anyone to explore while learning about the rocks that contribute to the exceptional preservation of its historic architecture,” she said.
In order to learn about the locally quarried rocks commonly used in Perugia’s architecture, Difo first had to research the history of the civilizations that constructed the ancient structures included on the tour. She took more than 1000 photographs of structures to consider including on the tour. “I also included a museums and archaeological sites page in my walking tour booklet featuring sites that further enrich the visitor’s experience of the city,” Difo said.
The 1.6 mile, eight-stop walking tour includes stops at plazas, arches, wells, and cathedrals. Difo’s booklet includes thorough historic and descriptive language about each location, as well as color photos and information about the materials used to build them.
Difo would love to return one day to Perugia, but for now, “My walking tour booklet and thesis are educational and lasting mementos of my semester in Perugia.” As for what’s next, Difo said she is “keeping my options open and considering either going back to school to get my master’s degree or getting some work experience under my belt. I am still not certain which will ultimately happen first!”