From the Archive: Alba Fucens

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Wednesday is our traditional out-of-Rome-day-trip and today we were off to Alba Fucens a Roman colony that was of some importance in the Republic (and then it made a series of bad decisions in choosing sides in civil conflicts :-X).

Our site visit began by climbing to the highest peak of the settlement where a Temple to Apollo once resided which is now occupied by a 12th century church, S. Pietro, which contains some awesome cosmatesque work and a few figural elements on the interior and some gargoyles on the exterior (which reminded me of some churches in Poitiers that have similar, yet quite different apotropaic figures). The view from this peak was astounding…I know my camera (I left my good one on the bus, shame on me) did not do it justice.

The next stop was the amphitheater dating to the late 30s, early 40s CE where we engaged in some fun reenactments of gladiatorial combat with our rain gear standing in for weapons. Then we proceeded down to the remains of the city itself and played a game of sorts where we had to ascertain the function of a particular space by looking at the remains. A fantastic exercise that reminded me I needed to trust my gut more, and not try and find latrinae in every space because that’s what I wanted to do. (Seriously, my first question was IS THIS A TOILET, when it should have been WHAT DO YOU SEE? But ever since I did that project, I’ve had a soft spot for Roman latrinae and this was my first chance to see one in the wild……and there’s a sentence you never thought you would read).

We explored the site for a bit, ate lunch, then explored the small town of Alba and then got on the bus to go back to Rome. I tried to stay awake to see the scenery on BOTH bus trips and failed both times.

Tomorrow: Palazzo Massimo (!!!!!!) and the Museo del Terme Epigraphical Museum (!).

This blog was originally posted here, with pictures! 

From the Archive: This View Never Gets Old (Pun Intended)

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I think for the foreseeable future (okay, the next 4 Mondays—wow….only 4 😦 ) I will take a day off from blogging. Typically, Mondays are lecture days at the Academy so I am not taking a copious amount of pictures unlike the rest of the week.

Monday was fabulous though. We had two guest lectures (one on Latin poets during the Hellenistic period and the other on the relationship between Roman gladiators and Stoicism) and then we learned about Roman building techniques. I also participated in the Material Culture seminar which I mightily enjoyed; the topic of the day, pottery!

Today has been kind of light activity wise. We explored the so-called Tabularium and the Temple of Veiovis within the structure of the Tabularium/Capitoline Museums. The view of the Forum was astounding – I could observe it for hours, days, months, years.

Afterwards we explored the Largo Argentina temples (and local cat sanctuary) and the Southern Campus Martius and the buildings that were constructed during the mid- to late-Republic and in the Augustan period.

My task for the afternoon was to find an umbrella (the one thing I forgot to pack) and get a suppli and eat it. I was successful in both my quests and spent a total of 5€ combined for both of them. The umbrella is necessary for tomorrow’s outing where we are all but guaranteed rain.

For tomorrow – exploring the remains of Alba Fucens a Roman colony to the east of Rome! In the rain!

This blog was originally posted here, with pictures! 

From the Archive: Carlotta conquista Firenze!

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Before I came to Italy I knew I wanted to come to Florence especially to see a bronze show at the Palazzo Strozzi, called Power and Pathos Hellenistic Bronzes. My friend Eric made most of the plans and off we went to spend Saturday in Florence.

The train was very comfortable and I had been looking forward to taking in the view, but unfortunately, I fell asleep almost immediately. We arrived in Florence promptly (under 2 hours thanks to the speedy train) and quickly found the Palazzo Strozzi and then wandered to find a bite to eat.

The bronze show was good, but they did not allow photography, which was ESPECIALLY disappointing because there’s no reason (besides protecting the exhibition itself) to restrict taking photos of BRONZE. The two main things I wanted to see were Aulus Metellus (L’Arringatore) and the Terme Boxer. I saw them, but I found the layout of the show (especially for the Terme Boxer) kind of prohibitive in regards to actually looking at it. The room was too crowded so people were in the way when they weren’t even looking at the Boxer itself. It was also super stuffy in the exhibition space– I think we might have lingered more if it wasn’t so uncomfortable.

The other big stop was the Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David. On the way, I saw Santa Maria del Fiore and the DOME. It was huge and fascinating and I didn’t get to see nearly enough of it.

The line system for David was really disorganized and full of mainly Americans. There were peddlers and booths and a man playing the accordion and at that moment it felt *really* Busch Gardens (Williamsburg, for those of you that think of Busch Gardens is safari-like). Eventually we got it all figured out and got into the museum and saw him. I knew he was large. I knew he was a big guy, but I was not prepared for his scale. SO large.

After that we wandered a bit, got dinner, and then sat ourselves in the Piazza in front of Santa Maria Novella and listened to this charming street musician play covers of classic songs. It was delightful and idyllic and a relaxing way to end a busy week.

Florence was a city that I need to see more of; I’ll come back and do it up proper one of these days.

Today I engaged in simple house-keeping affairs. I did laundry and longingly thought of my washer and dryer back in the States that would have made the whole endeavor take half the time. But, this too is part of the experience.

This blog was originally posted here, with pictures! 

From the Archive: Day 9

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Friday was another long day where I saw A LOT of stuff. We started bright and early and began at the Circus Maximus where a few intrepid young fellows decided to run (what they could) of the ancient track. I personally rooted for the Reds since the runner for said team was a fellow IU-Bloomingtonian—it was a good day, the IU Crimsons won!

The rest of the morning was spent looking at the Republican temples of the Forum Holitorium (Vegetable market) and Forum Boarium (Cow Market) which are all adjacent to one another. We first attempted to see the Ara Maxima which is currently underneath the Basilica Santa Maria in Cosmedin; in fact, the Ara Maxima has actually been carved out to form a chapel. We didn’t actually get to go into the altar until a little later (the guy who was supposed to let us in was late). I actually had a difficult time in there and left before the rest of the group. I am pretty claustrophobic; there were a lot of people in there and the air felt really close and I just had to get out of there even though it was interesting. I am hoping that I can handle the catacombs in a couple of weeks.

We then walked to the Forum Holitorium temples which are currently built into one church, S. Nicola Incarcere. We explored the foundation levels of the temple which are currently underneath the church. I explored for a bit and did a bit better under there than I did at the Ara Maxima even though it twisted and turned.

After that we walked to the banks of the Tiber and discussed the oldest bridge which crosses the Tiber, the mythical foundation of Tiber Island, and the foundation of the cult of Asclepius (which is reflected by the continued presence of hospitals on the island). The last stop in the morning was the temples in the Forum Boarium to the Temple of Hercules and Portunus.

After the lunch break, we went to the Capitoline Museums. I was PRETTY excited and that feeling only increased when the FIRST thing I saw were the Marcus Aurelius panels and then the SECOND was the bust of Commodus as Hercules. I could spend hours there looking at these works and not get tired of it. Fortunately, we will be returning to the Capitoline and I think I will return alone to do it at my own pace.

This blog was originally posted here, with pictures! 

From the Archive: Day 8

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Thursday was relaxing in comparison to Monday-Wednesday. Instead of being gone from 8-8 (it seemed), I did not have to be anywhere until noon. So I took it easy and walked in a leisurely manner to the Academy where we toured the Villa Aurelia a property owned by the AAR and the highest point in Rome. We climbed to the top of the recently-renovated villa and enjoyed the view of the entire city.

After another delicious lunch at the AAR we headed out to the Villa Giulia, the National Etruscan Museum, and one of the Academy’s fellows gave us a tour of the museum which had several highlights including the Sarcophagus of the Spouses, the Chigi Vase, and the Apollo of Veii. It was a fascinating museum and it was very instructive to be led around by someone who is obviously knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their subject!

The Villa Giulia also has nymphaeum designed and executed by Vasari in which bird violence had recently occurred (two seagulls took down a pigeon) so that’s unfortunately in my picture.

To get to the Villa Giulia we took taxis and I continue to find Italian driving a both fascinating and terrifying exercise in human interaction.

The original blog can be found here, with pictures! 

From the Archive: Tuscany and Etruscan Tombs

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Today’s explorations started and ended with fantastic vistas. We explored two necropoli from the Etruscan civilization. The first was the necropolis at Tarquinia where you descend into the rock cut tombs to observe the painted frescoes that remain. I explored as many as I could before we left for the National Archaeological Museum of Tarquinia where local archaeological discoveries were displayed en masse. Particularly sarcophagi—the museum had many. The Sarcophagus of the Sacerdotus was particularly AWESOME. It is a painted sarcophagus, but it has no relief element so it was entirely two-dimensional and that is so cool. Nearby was a sarcophagus with relief that was also painted. The museum also had tons of red- and black-figure vases, bronze figures and weapons, and four tombs that had been removed from their original context and reconstructed in the museum.

The next stop was to see the tumuli tombs at the Cerveteri necropolis of Banditaccia. I went into some of these, but I admit, my claustrophobia began to rear its ugly head with a few of these, so I did not explore them as much as I did the tombs at Tarquinia. I DID go down to see the Tomb of the Reliefs which was nice to finally see in person.

After finishing up at Cerveteri, we hopped back on the bus for Rome. On Wednesday nights we will always have dinner at one local restaurant. Tonight I had pasta alla amatriciana which I did NOT finish and the woman who picked up my plate gave me a Look. I was fulllll. Afterwards we all walked to one of the TOP gelato places in Rome (which happens to be not far from my apartment). I had coffee and almond gelato and it was delish.

In other news, I’ve been in Italy for almost a week now!

Tomorrow is a relaxed day; we’ll be exploring the Villa Aurelia on the American Academy in Rome’s property and the Villa Giulia Museum which houses Etruscan art and artifacts.

This blog was originally posted here

From the Archive: On the Way to the Forum

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Today was a long, tiring day, but I got to see several things I have been waiting ages to see.

This week in the Classical Summer School we are doing Early Rome and Etruscans so we mainly concentrated on Archaic and Early Republican monuments (even though several exist currently in a later Imperial form and that only partially). Being in the Forum was fabulous; it’s great to see the pictures of monuments and landscapes you have for so long read and studied and to see them in the flesh.

We also went to the Sant’Omobono temple complex which was fascinating. I had read about it and talked about it in classes before; it’s a religious complex that includes a 15th(? – I think 15th) century church, 2 Republican era temples (Mater Matuta and Fortuna), and below the Republican temples, an Archaic one. From this excavation we have some of the earliest large scale figural sculpture (which I’ll see later when we visit museums), terracotta statues of Hercules and Minerva which were acroteria. I had been told that the archaeological excavation of this site is complex, and believed it, but it was nice to see it for myself.

After we returned to our neighborhood, our program director asked us if we wanted to try something tasty. (The answer to this question, especially in Italy, should always be YES). This something was called a suppli which was mozzarella, rice, red sauce all breaded and fried. Like a super-extreme-most-delicious cheese stick ever.

Tomorrow: Tarquinia and Cerveteri to see Etruscan stuffs!

This blog was originally posted here, with pictures!