From the Archive: When Plans Go Awry

I am only able to plan my trip in fits and bursts. I’m afraid if I go too fast, I’ll get careless and make a costly error. I feel like I made one of those errors today, but perhaps it was a case of reading and receiving old information, or the info I’m looking at now was recently updated.

My trip to Croatia is probably one of the most unique opportunities I’ve ever had. I’ve been planning, loosely, for this trip since February or March. All of the internet and print resources informed me that the best way to get to Pula, Croatia is by ferry, which runs April through the end of October.


Pula is on the tip of Croatia’s peninsula, and ferry IS the most direct route. But apparently, in 2016, as opposed to previous years (I think), the ferries are ending at the end of September. I will arrive in this area in early/mid October..Previously, I thought it to be plenty of time to hitch a ferry from Venice across the Adriatic..enjoying a great view and experience all the while. But alas. ‘Twas not to be. All of the ferry schedules I can find confirm…no ferries after September.

After taking a step back for a few minutes, minutes that were filled with incredibly intense panic, I realized that all was not lost. I shall simply take a train from Venice to Trieste, and bus from Trieste to Pula. A bit longer perhaps, but MUCH cheaper, and instead of seeing the sea, I’ll see the countryside.  I’ll see plenty of the sea in Venice, Pula, Rimini, Ravenna, Fano, and Ancona.

I confess myself disappointed, but it is not the end of the world. Hopefully this is the only travel related snafu (knock on ALL the wood); with so many legs of the journey, I feel like some mixups are to be expected.

I think I’m done planning for the day!

This blog was originally posted here

From the Archive: Plane Tickets Booked!


I get a little nervous every time I schedule international travel – It always feels like I am doing something HUGE, which I guess I am. So no big surprise to someone who is pretty regularly an anxious individual, it stresses me out.

BUT! It’s done. I will be in Europe from the last week in September to the first week in November. I conveniently arranged my travel times to fall around the dregs of the 2016 election season, and when I arrive back in the U.S.A. there should be a new president elect. I did this entirely on purpose because I’m already ridiculously stressed out about it (see the above note about being an anxious individual).

This trip departs from my other previous international travel in a couple of ways. Previously, I’ve pretty much just been responsible for booking the ticket and showing up. This time, I’m responsible for my housing, travel, and all of the nitty gritty for 100% of the trip. Also, previously, I’ve spent a significant amount of time in ONE country, and to be fair, seen a good portion of that country.

Collectively, I’ve spent several months in France and a couple in Italy. When putting together my original proposal for this trip, I realized that I would be returning to the only two countries in Europe that I have been to for another lengthy stay.  However, I will be ADDING two countries to my list of visited countries; one that I have loved from afar since the tender age of like…seven (England), and the other one I never really expected to go to, but I’m REALLY excited for it (Croatia). I also get to spend time in the south of France, where I’ve never been, and northern Italy (the farthest north I’ve been is Florence).

In short, this trip should feel HUGE….it’s such a great opportunity, on top of the OTHER great opportunities I’ve already had…and I’m that great blend of nervous and excited for it.

This blog was originally posted here

From the Archive: Research Trip 2.0


This blog is a little dusty; it’s been a year since I started it! ..but it’s time to dust it off, and take it for a spin in preparation for my next research trip in Fall of 2016! I originally started this blog as a way to document my 2015 trip to Italy, but I figure I can take it a step further and use it to document my travels, mainly research related, in the process of completing my PhD. (Hopefully, there will be no scaffolding surprises this trip! See above!)

This fall, I’ll be traveling to Italy, France, and Croatia. I am debating tacking a long weekend to England on somewhere, because honestly, it’s a huge personal failure for me as an Anglophile to never have gone. Plus, I’ll already be over there so why not?

So this post is a metaphorical dusting off of an old blog in preparation of new adventures!

From the Archive: Ciao, Roma

As my time in Rome draws to a close, I find myself thinking of what I will miss…and what I will not. So, I thought I’d share.

What I Won’t Miss

The Heat – and no, not the Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy movie. It’s been really bloody hot in Rome. I acclimated well enough, but it was still uncomfortable to wake up sweating, go to sleep sweating, and never stop sweating. This leads to other issues; no AC in the apartment I was staying in leads to open windows, which leads to mosquito bites which leads to cranky.

Pasta – I seriously might not eat pasta for a year. Weird for me.

Questionable toilet facilities – If you’ve read my previous post, you know it’s something I thought about frequently. It will be nice for a toilet seat to be a constant again. (And soap, toilet paper but ESPECIALLY toilet seats.)

What I’ll Miss (In No Particular Order)

Suppli – Delicious mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, rice, all lightly breaded and fried.

Quattro Venti Bisteccheria – Those of us that lived off Viale di Villa Pamphili often visited this particular restaurant and enjoyed some of my favorite food I’ve had in Rome (including the best steak I’ve ever had). I think we ate there once or twice a week and our waiters got to know us. It was the first time I ever felt like I had a favorite-neighborhood-watering-spot.

The Bakery on Quattro Venti  –  One of the ladies who worked there knew what I wanted when I walked it. That was cool.

 Rome  – I’ll miss Rome in a kind of general abstract sense. I had a harder time getting a hold of its modern urban geography than I’m used to, but in the last few weeks I started to understand it more in my head-map. I look forward to getting to know this city from different perspectives and hopefully in different seasons.

Art and the Monuments – This should probably be an obvious and IS the most important one. I loved being surrounded by the remains of a culture/civilization/whatever that I’ve researched and studied for a very long time now. It was a long time coming and the past six weeks have allowed my knowledge (I think) to sharpen.

My CSS peeps


When you’re in a group of people almost constantly for six weeks, it feels like you’ve known them a lot longer. It was great to be surrounded by fantastic, intelligent people that all shared a common interest in the ancient world. It was a privilege and a pleasure to share this experience with you all!

(Photo stolen from the group facebook page)

This blog was originally posted here

From the Archive: The Forstall Forica Formula

After spending a bit of time in Rome/Italy, around the touristy bits, in restaurants or just out and about, it does not take one long to realize that public restrooms can vary widely and no bathroom is created equal.

The ancient Romans kind of knew what they were doing with public restrooms (I mean, they existed). See the below example from Ostia, a public restroom or “forica.” If I were time-traveling, and willing to give up certain rules of hygiene and privacy, toilets in the Roman world (when available) could be a lot, A LOT worse.

Now in modern-day Rome, FINDING a toilet isn’t hard. Finding a perfect toilet that meets all of our modern-day desires (and frankly, basic American expectations) can be….rare. I’ve developed, after careful thought and consideration, a toilet-rating system that is useful to those traveling in Rome. Well, it might be more amusing than anything.


1. A TOILET SEAT – It seems that it’s common practice in Italy once the toilet seat breaks, not to replace it. If the bathrooms are on the newer side of things, you will probably be lucky enough to find a toilet seat. If not, be thankful there is a toilet.

2. SOAP – Some places, during the tourist season, get slammed by mobs of tourists and when the soap runs out (if it was there to begin with) who knows when it will be replaced. (Tip: Carry GermX or something to assuage your hygienic concerns.)

3. TOILET PAPER – This one is very similar to the soap one. Sometimes they just run out, and it will be a while. (Tip: Come prepared with tissues or whatever and you’ll be fine. Don’t come prepared and chances are you’ll be sorry.)

The above three qualities are the HOLY TRIFECTA. If you’ve found a toilet with a toilet seat, soap, and TP, pat yourself on the back. It’s a good day. If you’ve found one that has NONE of the above, use it and hope for a better future.

4. HAND DRYING DEVICES – Sometimes, there’s paper towels. Often times they’ve run out. Sometimes there are hand-dryers that probably haven’t worked in five years. Sometimes, there’s a Dyson AirBlade hand-dryer that is really freaking cool. To get a point for this category, the bathroom must have paper towels or a functioning dryer that blows COOL air, not the icky hot kind with oodles of bacteria. (Tip: If you don’t have a hand drying device, just walk outside in the 90+ degree weather and you won’t notice your wet hands anymore.

5. GENERAL CLEANLINESS AND FUNCTIONALITY – In the summer it’s hot in Italy. Not many places have AC, and not everyone keeps their public restroom in good order. A bathroom that does not reek, have garbage everywhere, and all of its flushers work is a good bathroom. In Pompeii, one bathroom had a toilet tank that was leaking (it was near the ceiling so it was like it was raining in the bathroom) and another bathroom had six toilets of which only one was currently working. Added bonuses like hooks for bags are a nice touch, but so far, I’ve only found in like 2 bathrooms.

6. BONUS POINT(s) FOR AESTHETICS – Sometimes, a bathroom just looks nice. If a bathroom gets a point for all five of the previous categories, it’s a really good awesome bathroom. Be happy you’ve found it.  BUT. Sometimes a bathroom gets points for all five of the previous categories, but it came dressed to impress. And that bathroom would be the holy grail of bathrooms. I’m happy to say I’ve found two holy grails (okay so maybe not as rare as THE holy grail) the bathroom at the Epigraphical Museum (pictured above) and the bathrooms at the Baths of Caracalla. I would rank the Baths of Caracalla above the Epigraphical Museum because, no lie, it was prettier. I’m sad I didn’t take a picture.

This blog was originally posted here, with pictures.

From the Archive: Week 5


Week five was PACKED. It was another six day long week (Monday-Saturday) that was full of more visits to the forum, the capitoline museums, and the long anticipated trip to the Vatican Museums.

There were a few “lasts” this week. Our last trip to the forum. Our last trip to the Capitoline. And our last trip to the Epigraphical Museum and the Palazzo Massimo.

We went to Ostia on Wednesday; it was a long, very hot day, but it was very neat to see another city I’ve only read about and now be able to visualize it.

On Friday, we went to the Vatican Museums and it was very, very crowded. Tons of tour guides seemed to like to stand in front of very inopportune spots to discuss something else entirely – for instance, one guide set up in front of the Laocoon to talk about the Sistine Chapel for a good 10 minutes. Nonetheless, I saw so many things and it was a good visit. After finishing with the museums, we visited St. Peter’s Basilica and then had a tour under the basilica in the Vatican Necropolis where the supposed-tomb of St. Peter was found.

Saturday we traveled the ancient Via Appia, making stops at the Villa of the Quintilii, the Catacombs of St. Sebasteion (I did not go down, my claustrophobia got the best of me, especially after the Vatican Necropolis), the Tomb of Caecillia Metella, the Villa and Stadium of Maxentius, the Tomb of the Scipios, the Aurelian wall, AND the baths of Caracalla.

Next week is the last week of the program! We’ll be exploring early Christian Rome and finishing up our seminars!

This blog was originally posted here, with pictures! 

From the Archive: Week 4


Forgive my tardiness and inability to post on time, but it’s been hot and we’ve been busy. So sometimes when it’s 90 degrees outside with no air conditioning, the last thing I want to do is put my hands on my hot computer and type about my day. Most of these journaling posts from here on out (since I’m almost done with the program!!!) will be pretty brief.

Week four consisted of many long-anticipated activities. We visited the imperial fora, I put my hands on the column base for the Column of Trajan, and we went to the Colosseum, Hadrian’s villa, the Pyramid of Cestius, the Montemartini collection, and the Palazzo Altemps.

This blog was originally posted here, with pictures! 

From the Archive: Naples and Campania


Monday and Tuesday we left Rome for Campania to see the sites of Herculaneum and Pompeii as well as the Naples Archaeological Museum. Monday was the holiday for Sts. Peter and Paul in Rome so the entire city shut down which made our departure for Campania especially convenient.

Our first stop was the Naples Archaeological Museum which currently holds my “Favorite Museum on the Trip Thus Far” spot. Full of sculptural masterpieces and mosaics and frescoes of wide renown it was almost a bit overwhelming seeing all that the space had to offer. The Farnese collection as well as the Alexander Mosaic were both particularly enjoyable and impressive.

After lunch in Naples, we took off to Herculaneum. We explored the site from the bottom up and explored it at our own pace. This was my first encounter with a well-preserved ancient city and it was pretty remarkable. The visible layers of volcanic material which buried the town during Vesuvius’s 79 eruption just really impressed upon me the difficulty excavating a site such as Herculaneum.

From Herculaneum we went to the Villa of Oplontis which was blessedly free of crowds (we were the only ones there) especially in comparison to Pompeii the next day. I think it was here where I truly felt the most impressed by the vivacity of the ancient frescos in their ancient context. The colors in many of the surviving frescoes were still so vibrant after years of exposure where I am sure that they have faded after their excavation.

The evening was spent at the Vesuvian Institute where we enjoyed the view of the Bay of Naples, dinner, and rest.

The next day was dedicated entirely to Pompeii. The city itself was a lot vaster than I had previously imagined (even though I knew it was not small) and overwhelming in terms of how many people were present. Many of the houses were closed and spread out and it was very hot. We explored the amphitheater, the forum, the temple of Isis, the Houses of Menander and the Faun, and much much more.

And on the bus I think we all slept.

This blog was originally posted here, with pictures! 

From the Archive: Rome and the Julio-Claudians

The remainder of the Longest Week Ever (I exaggerate, kind of) was spent concentrating on the Augustan, Julio-Claudian, and Flavian modifications and additions to Rome’s topography.

Wednesday we spent some time in the Forum discussing additions to the Forum by Julius Caesar and Augustus as well as the Forum of Augustus including the Curia and several basilicae. We then made our way to the Ara Pacis Museum where I *finally* got to see the Ara Pacis, the Mausoleum of Augustus as well as the overall plan of the Campus Martius under Augustus.

Thursday was a much needed slow day in the Academy where we attended lectures usually reserved for Monday.

Friday we boarded a bus for Terracina and Sperlonga, another long-awaited trip that I was glad to do. At Terracina, we explored the Temple of Jupiter Anxur and enjoyed magnificent views available from the sanctuary precinct. We then journeyed on to Sperlonga where we visited Tiberius’s villa and grotto and I finally got to see the sculptural remains that were found within the grotto. After the Sperlonga museum we went to Sperlonga town so those of us who wanted to beach could do so and those of us that wanted to laze could do so. I lazed; I enjoyed a delicious meal and some delicious caffe gelato with an exceptional view of the water.

Saturday was a hot day where we went to the Palatine to see the imperial residences: the houses of Augustus and Livia, the Domus Flaviana, and earlier Republican era houses were all on the docket. After lunch, we put on our hard hats and explored the newly re-opened Domus Aurea which was blessedly cool (68 degrees – The Italian guide was very concerned that we didn’t have wraps, but we were all like ‘mmmm naw we’re good’).

The next week will continue our discussion and exploration of imperial Rome! Today (Monday – Day 26) is at the Academy for our lectures and seminars.

The forecast for the next week is “as hot as Hades” 😦

This blog was originally posted here, with pictures! 

From the Archive: Italy has all the views


Friday consisted of one in-town stop and two out-of-town stops.

First, we explored the Tomb of the Baker and the Porta Maggiore (top pictures). Then, it was on to modern-day Palestrina where we explored the remains of the sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia which once again provided another fantastic view of the town itself and then at a distance (second level of images), Rome and the sea. We explored the site, and then the museum which had a well-known Nilotic mosaic (third level of pics).

After Palestrina we hopped on the bus again to go to Tusculum a small town also not far outside of Rome with several villas (though none attributed to Cicero, the most sought after villa of them all). We, however, explored the town, not the villas. We had a picnic lunch with ANOTHER view (row 4) and then explored the remains of the town.

And just like that week 2 was over!

This upcoming week looks to be a doozy. Monday and Tuesday will be spent in Campania exploring the Naples Archaeological Museum, Herculaneum, and Pompeii. The rest of the week will concentrate on the early imperial sites and material in the city.

This weekend (Days 17 & 18) has been entirely lazy. I did laundry, relaxed, ate an American breakfast at a café called Homebaked, and did not much else. It’s the last free weekend of my time in Rome so I spent it relaxing since that won’t be the name of the game from here on out!

This blog was originally posted here, with pictures!