Rome 2015

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

Rome 2015

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! 

Rome 2015

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! 

Rome 2015

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! 

Rome 2015

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! 

Rome 2015

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! 

Rome 2015

From the Archive: Palazzo Massimo and the Terme Museum

Thursday was a half day, so I headed to the Academy and did some reading while everyone else was in Latin Reading Group. After lunch, we headed to the Palazzo Massimo which houses the Terme Museum’s sculptural collection.

It was great to finally see several of these well-known art works, including the Terme Boxer, which I literally JUST saw in Florence. Twice in one week in two different museums!

After we went to the Epigraphical Museum just across the way and learned more about Bronze Age cultures in Latium. We also saw the remains of the oldest known domesticated house cat in Europe (not pictured, though check out my pictures on Facebook).

This blog was originally posted here

Rome 2015

From the Archive: Alba Fucens


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! 

Rome 2015

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


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!