Feels Good to be On Top

This program is exhausting.  Even though we consistently have 3 day weekends (if you aren’t in Art History) I still am barely keeping up with the work and I’m constantly tired and needing caffeine.  Despite that, this is such an amazing opportunity.  Lemme tell ya why…

On Tuesday we did the ancient Triumphal Route around Rome and made it into 2 temples that regular tourists or even some scholars aren’t allowed into normally.  Seriously.  How cool is that!? We weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside so we just stood in there and tried to absorb it all.  The 2 exclusive temples were the Temple of Portunus and the Temple of Hercules Victor.  Basically this week in lecture we learned all about how the Ancient Romans just really like to show off and, if you could afford it, building amazing temples was the best way to become well known in the political sphere.  A lot of these temples were preserved because they were converted into Christian churches in the Middle Ages so there’s Medieval Christian art on the inside of them.  Some, like the Temples of Spes, Janus, and Juno Sospita in the Forum Holitorium, just had their foundations and columns built straight into the churches and were preserved that way.

On Wednesday we went  up and saw a couple of museums and the Sanctuary of Diana in Nemi.  In the last museum there we saw the most amazing sarcophagus again preserved because it was reused and buried in the Middle Ages.  The bones of the 9 people who were buried in it in Medieval times are actually still in there.  That sarcophagus was easily one of the most fantastic pieces of artwork I have ever, or will ever, see.

Thursday we made our way up to modern day Palestrina which is the location of the ancient Roman ally of Praeneste.  There we saw the Temple of Fortuna Primigenia and the museum that exists there now.  We climbed up 863 steps and a steep ramp to get up to that temple.  Thank goodness it was 100% worth it.  With special permission we were allowed to take pictures in the museum!

In between these trips we have classes as well so the first 3 days of the week are pretty stressful.  It’s all worth it though.  I’m excited for it to start cooling off here!  I’m missing my New England fall a little bit.

Next weekend we’re taking a Centro trip down to Ravenna for the weekend.  It will be nice to get out of Rome although we’re hoping for some free time to be able to explore a new town.  Also hoping for a decent bus ride so that we’ll have time to do homework!

Let me know what you guys want to here about!  This program, as my head-professor told us yesterday, is not a ‘holiday’ program so it’s pretty intense academically.  Traveling hasn’t been encouraged as of yet so I’m excited for a potential week-long trip to Greece over Fall Break.

Also, I really need to learn some Italian..


Grazie Mille

It is Sunday and Sunday is homework day.  Expect a lot of blog posts to happen on Sundays!

Wednesday: We took 2 trains and a tram down to the Villa Giulia museum and walked all through it before lunch.  There were so many beautiful artifacts in there.  Last week we focused on the Etruscans so that was most of the artwork we focused on but we also learned about the different shapes of Greek pottery and their functions.  The most exciting thing to see there was the Apollo of Veii.  Just an amazing sculpture.  I got pretty annoyed at the kids who ignored the museum staff and took pictures (AND FLASH PICTURES 😡 big no no) anyway.  After lunch we had classes in the afternoon.

Thursday: We went back to the Forum Romanum and got to see several things with special permission (!!) including the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the Fons Juturnae, and the Church of Santa Maria Antiqua.  That last one was an extremely special permission site.  We weren’t allowed to take any pictures or even move from the center of the room but it was so incredible.  We watched the restoring some of the frescoes.  After those amazing sites, we moved on to the ones that all the regular tourists get to see including the Basilica Aemilia, the Curia and Comitium, the Temple of Saturn, and the Regia.  It was about 90 degrees on Thursday and there isn’t much shade in the Forum.  It was a tough morning.  The weekend started after lunch on Thursday for me since I’m not taking either of the classes that meet Thursday afternoons!

Friday: The administrative staff, Franco and Pina, set up a wine symposium with a local expert.  He was, ahem, quite good-looking and knew so so much about wine.  I haven’t felt like such a stupid American in a long time!  Then we had a lovely dinner together out in the garden.

I won’t go into too many details about the weekend 🙂 Although next weekend I might be traveling!  On Saturday night we had another barbecue.  Tonight I think we’re going to go to an actual restaurant for dinner.  Fingers crossed that it won’t be too expensive…

As always, the rest of the pictures are up on my Facebook.  It just takes too long to put them all up here!

Back to homework!

So Many Tombs, So Little Time…

… At least for us living people.  The dead have eternity in the afterlife.  And chilling in the Etruscan tombs of Tarquinia and/or Cerveteri is DEFINITELY how I’d like to spend mine.

Monday was our first day of formal classes.  9 am was our Ancient City lecture during which our Italian professor, Massimo Betello, told us all about the history of the Etruscans.  Then Prof. Bucher sat down and told us a little bit about the beginning of the Roman Republic.  That all lasted until 11 am which gave everyone about 2 hours before lunch to cram for the next class at 2 pm.  My afternoon class is Intermediate Greek which is taught by Prof. Amy Russell who is also British.  So not only did I have to adjust to listening to a history lecture given by an Italian, I also had to get used to understanding how the British pronounce Ancient Greek.  It was a challenging day.  We’re starting off in that class reading Xenophon’s Apology of Socrates and so far it’s a little slow.  I’m wildly excited about that class though because I love Greek the most.  Latin is a different story… For that class we’re reading bits of funerary inscriptions which were written in meter.  Confused?  Me too… it’s actually a graduate level class.. so there’s that.  Monday was busy and stressful.  I only left our building once (for a recovery gelato) and was in desperate need of some alone time by the end of the day.  Tuesday 100% made up for that though.

Tuesdays are our traveling days. We do it right, traveling on a gigantic bus which, mathematically, should not be able to drive the streets of Rome or any Italian city for that matter.  I walked INTO tombs yesterday and the bus ride was the most frightening part by far at times.  Although, I still maintain that Vespas are the only way to travel in Italy.  I need to get on one of those soon… ANYWAY!  First we drove for about an hour and visited the Monterozzo necropolis where we were allowed to see 3 tombs on special permission from the custodi.  I should mention that it was unbelievably hot yesterday and, since we were walking through tall, sharp grass, it was recommended that we wear long pants.

The first special permission tomb was the Tomba degli Auguri which I actually didn’t take any pictures in because we had to look through this glass door and that seemed pointless.  Then we walked over to the Tomba dei Tori which I also don’t have pictures of for the same reasons.  It was hot.  I wasn’t thinking.

I did, however, take tons of pictures of the Tomba degli Orci, the Tomb of the Bulls.  We were actually allowed to walk down INTO this tomb and stand 6 inches away from the for real Etruscan wall art.  Just let that sink if for a second.  HECK YES IT’S AWESOME.

We did a bunch of other stuff including lunch and a museum (not in that order, unfortunately) and then got back on the bus for about an hour to get to Certeveri and the Banditaccia necropolis filled with tons and tons of Tumuli and Dado (cube) tombs of the Etruscans.  Here’s were the day really got amazing.  We were allowed to CLIMB INTO THE TOMBS AND EXPLORE THEM.  We crawled through passages, laid down on the funeral beds (creepy and a bad idea since I had dirt all over me afterwards), and generally geeked out.  My archaeologist friends especially freaked out about them.  We basically ran from tomb to tomb for an hour trying to see it all.

That’s it for my blogging stamina- off to Latin class!



And so begins my foray into the world of blogging.  Don’t worry, it only took me an hour to set this up..

This first week at Il Centro has been amazing.  Starting next week I’ll have more classes and more work but I am so excited for what’s ahead.  I have never met so many people who are so wonderfully nerdy but equally cool.  It’s a balance that only a precious few can successfully pull off and, luckily, a great number of them seem to be concentrated here.

I’m looking forward to some shopping and perhaps a beach trip this weekend with some academic reading and general merriment thrown in.

For those of you not on Facebook (and that number’s decreasing daily) here are some pictures of my excursions around Rome this first week.  These are from the class trips we’ve taken around the city for orientation mostly.