Thursday, July 27, 2006

Stacy says rome wrap

follow-up on Rome trip - see "Stacy says spqr" for first letter. I think I want to be her!

My time in Rome is coming to a close. I'm more than glad that I've spent my
summer here, but I suppose it's time to go home. And I have gotten more
sleep--thanks for asking.

Though my final presentation and exam are officially *finito* (no word yet
on whether I actually passed), I will try to remember some highlights from
the last part of the program...

Ostia the gleaming port city of Rome. That means they get control of all the
salt commodities and a hexagonal harbor all to themselves. Right there on
the sea (or at least where the sea used to be, so I've been told). The
remains at ancient Ostia are reminiscent of Pompei--since blocks and blocks
of city are just right there, open to tourists (and student
archaeologists)--but there's less tragedy (since there was no violent
volcanic eruption and all).

Hadrian's Villa an understatement. Try "ginormous imperial amusement park." This guy
built his own lake, with his own island in the middle, with his own bridges
to destroy behind him if he wanted some alone time. Plus there's that whole
thing with the dining room under the waterfall. And a large Egyptian pool
that may or may not be symbolic of something else...

....are wonderful examples of Roman innovation in architecture. From Trajan
to Caracalla to Diocletian, the emperors knew just how to appeal to the
masses: lots of concrete. Plus water. Maybe some decorations.

Augustus and Agrippa
....built lots of cool things, but check out these special ones: We threaded
some back alleys and lined some pockets to see the remains of the horologium
(that's a sundial, by the way; below the water level these days). And then
there's this little building known as the Pantheon (which isn't little at
all; a most impressive dome!).

The Colosseum
....represents a sick and broken side of human history. Ironic, isn't it,
that this is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world? The
building is nonetheless impressive, even beautiful.

The Vatican full of secret places and guarded by very attractive men (try
searching for images of the Swiss Guard). Several trips yielded access to
the classical collections (Laocoon! Augustus from Prima Porta! an
unidentified marble bust!) and the cemetery excavations below the Basilica,
where I saw what may, according to tradition, in all likelihood, possibly be
the remnants of St. Peter (perhaps the official word is "relics") at the top
of an ancient Roman cemetery.

My sojourns into more modern art include the Galleria Borghese (I can't
decide whether I love Apollo and Daphne or Persephone and Pluto more),
Bernini's ubiquitous fountains, and chalk drawings on the sidewalk. I
suppose I can say I visited the Sistine Chapel, too, because I did, but the
most exciting thing there was the guard trying to get everyone to quiet

During these last few days, we're concluding our Roman history tour with
visits to the catacombs and the excellent Museum of Roman Civilization (the
only museum without any real artifacts inside! but it houses the
gallery-size plastico model of the City). Hopefully we also get some great
farewell food.

....and much, much more!

That's all I have to say. : )

Thanks for your notes, thoughts, and prayers during my adventure. If you'd
love to hear more, let me know; in fact, one of the reasons I'm longing for
home is because I'm bursting to share.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Stacy says spqr

my zweenacular friend Stacy is in doing a Latin study thing in Rome. Here's her sweet update.


Good food, great weather, funny tan lines, and mounds of reading: what better way to spend a vacation? (Actually, this may not be a rhetorical question. I think something like "sleep" should be added to the list.)

Almost halfway through my time in Rome, I'm looking forward to a four-day weekend to rest a bit and catch up. Yes, they work us pretty hard here, between bus rides, lots of walking, sites to view, time in the libraries (did I mention mounds of reading?), and just being overwhelmed by the fabric of ancient and modern Rome. The program here emphasizes ancient Roman history and archaeology, so I get to do things every day that are completely new to my little language- and teaching-oriented brain.

So...the following list may not mean much to those who aren't history or Latin geeks, but you can sort of get a feel for the breadth of what we've done and maybe sympathize with why these last three weeks have seemed twice as long as that.

What I've Done on My Summer Vacation in Rome:
Forum Antiquarium (dead people and infamous post holes)
Tiber Island and bridges (and Cloaca Maxima...)
Forum Boarium (that's the old cattle market), including the Round Temple and Temple of Portunus
Palatine (on several levels; it boggles the mind how many layers of Rome are built here)
Capitoline (I saw the wolf! I saw the wolf!...and other stuff; what a great museum)
Top Secret Excavation of the Atrium of Vesta (shh. don't tell)
Forum of Augustus (we got to play in the Temple of Mars Ultor; special permission)
Trajan's Column (climbing to the top; special permission again)
Curia (special permission; aww, what a nice floor)
Villa Giulia (sarcophagi everywhere! and the Apollo of Veii)
Ara Pacis (we broke in illegally)
Basilica Aemilia (broke in illegally again)
Various Temples (beneath current churches)
Theaters of Pompey and Balbus
Umm...The Very Exciting and Old Ancient Walls
(and more)

Outside of Rome:
Tarquinia (tombs with incredible paintings)
Cerveteri (more tombs; cue Indiana Jones theme)
Ardea (ancient walls...again)
Lavinium (founded by Aeneas? lots of altars, anyway)
Lake Nemi (dare I say breathtaking?)
Tusculum (we lost a few people in an ancient water channel)
Veii (yeah...not much to see)
Pyrgi (nice beach)
Alba Fucens (yeah, you try being thrown cold into an archaeological site autopsy of Roman colonial ruins. see what you come up with)
Praeneste (stairs...stairs...ramp...stairs...wait! a mosaic!)
Horace's Farm (including O Fons Bandusiae [maybe; we didn't sacrifice any goats, however]) and Licenza (my love)
Scaling the side of a VERY LARGE CLIFF to be INSIDE the Aqua Claudia (low ceilings)
Pompei!!!!!!!! (on my own)

We're progressing chronologically, so if your favorite site isn't on here...just wait.

I get a little teary-eyed when I realize I can see Mt. Soracte on a clear day, I can actually find my way among the Roman and Imperial Fora, and I can make geeky jokes about Etruscan culture. (Just kidding. I can't really make jokes.)

Life outside the Academy is pretty great as well. I'm surprised at how easily I can take care of and entertain myself. Rome has some great parks and excellent vistas.

And...the World Cup is on. Boy, is it on.

Forza Italia!--et valete,