Sunday, July 27, 2008

Picture update again

These are pictures from this week's adventures. I thought I had them in the right order, but turns out I was wrong. Oh, well. I'm getting older, I can't remember things properly anymore.

We begin our journey at the Villa of Hadrian. It is located outside of the city of Rome, in a town called Tivoli. Hadrian liked to have a little down time just like the rest of us. This is one of his reflecting pools, and no, that is not ancient Roman water:
This is also a picture from the Villa. This used to also be filled with water. It contained fish, we think. There are also rooms underneath, with passageways for people to move around:
This is from one of the many guest rooms in the Villa. I counted about 10 rooms, each with its own distinctive mosaic. I know how hard it is to make one of these things, on a much smaller scale. These were absolutely amazing!
And finally, a last look at the 2nd reflecting pool at the Villa. That man sure did like his water! In the background, I believe, are the baths. But I could be wrong there.
Below you will find a picture of an ancient road in Ostia. Ostia was built at the mouth of the Tiber River to provide a port for Rome, which was inland. This is the Decumanus Maximus, one of the main roads:
This is from the top of a column in the synagogue in Ostia. Notice the menorah. The synagogue sat way out towards the sea. It was quite a hike to get there.
After Ostia, I went to the beach with some friends. These are not my friends, just random Italians. But I wanted to show what the beach looked like. It was beautiful! And the water was freakishly cold.
This is a picture of a garden that we passed by after we visited Horace's Sabine farm. Italians have such pretty gardens!
This is me, standing in front of a waterfall/fountain near Horace's Sabine farm. It was really pretty and LOUD! Horace liked it so much, he immortalized it in a poem.
I took this picture from atop Hadrian's mausoleum, otherwise known as Castel San'Angelo. That's the Tiber River. I have many pictures of the great views, but not enough room to show them all here.
As you can tell, it was really windy up there! I was trying to get a picture with St. Peter's Basilica in the background, but I think I stood in front of it instead. Oops! I was too busy making sure my skirt didn't fly up.
I took this picture inside St. Peter's Basilica. That is the altar, the dark brown structure in the middle. Sorry, it's not the best quality picture. But it's dark in there, and the flash really doesn't help any.
And so concludes the saga of my adventures. As of tomorrow, I will be going home! I hope that you have enjoyed the journey with me. I know I have loved being here.
Please leave a comment so that I know who's been looking around here! Thanks, and have a great day!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

the lazy days of summer

Finally, a day that actually feels like a vacation! As you might have heard, our official tour ended yesterday in Rome. We have the whole weekend free to see anything we might have missed, or just other things we want to do.

Personally, if I see another museum anytime in the next year, I may go crazy. Seriously.

I got to sleep in today. Then I went and dropped off my laundry at the local launderette. It's a great concept, paying someone else to wash your dirty clothes. Wish that happened at home!

Then I wandered. I took the Metro to Spagna (near the Spanish Steps). I walked over to the Borghese Gardens again. I decided, as I was wandering, to go to the zoo. Or the Bioparc as they call it.

I saw a lion, two tigers, and two bears! (oh my!) I also saw a seal, some lemurs, a zebra, an ostrich, an elephant, a camel, some antelope, many kinds of birds, and various other animals. It was a nice little park. Honestly, I was a little let down. I expected, since Rome is such a huge city, that it would have a really impressive zoo. I found that it wasn't any better than our one at home. In fact, we had most of the same animals, just more of them! But it was nice to see it, and very restful.

I wandered back over near the Spanish steps, then down the Via del Corso a bit. That's one of the main shopping areas in Rome. I didn't buy anything! I veered off the main road for a bit, and took some of the smaller "viales". Those are like little roads. The larger roads in Rome are via. The smaller ones are viale. I found some viale.

I feel like I got to know the city a bit better today. I ended up over by the Campo dei Fiori, which I have mentioned several times. It's one of my favorite places in the city. Then I walked back over to Largo Argentina and caught the bus home.

I did take a nap this afternoon after I returned. It felt good!

Chanda, Jason, and I went out to dinner at a local place. We got to create our own pasta. Basically, you pick the sauce and the type of pasta you want. We each got something different, so we shared. It was good. And I have to say that Jason's tortellini with pesto was the best.

Now we're home, and I'm feeling a bit tired again. I don't really have any plans for tomorrow. I would like to find some silver sandals and a pair of jeans. But if not, I'm okay with that.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Officially Done

This was it. The last day of our trip. The culmination of five weeks (years) of work.

We met in the morning for a few hours. Translated a letter that Pliny the Younger wrote about his villa. Of course! I had the 2nd sentence, which was the hardest one in the whole letter. No, really. it was!

Then we each shared something that we learned from the trip. Or how it will effect our teaching next year. We all pretty much agreed that it was great to actually dialogue with other Latin teachers. Some people are so isolated out there. I feel blessed that I actually have so many other Latin teachers to communicate with whenever I want to.

When we were done, I came upstairs and took a nap. I was tired after staying up late last night, working on my translation. Then Jason, Kate, and I went "chopping." (that is shopping) I didn't find anything, but we found 2 shirts and a tie for Jason! Yay! Now he has something to wear with his nice, new Italian suit. Sweet!

A bunch of us met to talk pedagogy with reference to Cambridge. That's our new textbook. There were about 8 of us. We sat in the back of a wine bar, had a glass or two, and a nice discussion. We were supposed to talk about the textbook, and some ideas on teaching with it. But it kind of evolved into a bitch session about how students don't know any English grammar. And some other stuff. But I did get a couple of good ideas to try out next year.

Then it was time for our final meal all together. Everyone but Allison went, because she had plans with a friend. It was fun, but really expensive. It was a very touristy restaurant. The food was okay. Not the best I've had, for the money.

Afterward, Chanda, Greg, Jason, Kate, James, Michael and I went walking around the Campo dei Fiori and over to Trastevere. In that part of town, they are celebrating the feast day of Saint Mary something. They dress up their image (statue) of Mary and carry her through the streets to the church. She hangs out there, all dressed up, for a week. Then they'll process her through the streets again, then put her back. There were so many people out! All the cafes and bars were open. People were milling about all over. We all sat on the curb and just watched them all go by. It was so neat to see a real part of Italian culture.

No big plans for the weekend yet. There's a group going to the Forum in the morning, but I think I'm just going to sleep in. I've been there before, and I need the rest. I'm just going to take it easy. I'd like to just wander around and see all the little alleys and such. You know, get to know the city a bit before I have to leave her.

Two more days!

All the Time, Everywhere

I'm no Biblical scholar, but I was doing my daily devotion this morning. The verses really spoke to me today, for reasons that I will not share on the blog because my mom does not need to know everything her daughter does. My friends may understand, since perhaps they will be familiar with the word lemoncello. Enough said.

Psalm 139:1-12
Lord, you have examined me and knkow all about me.
You know when I sit down and when I get up.
You know my thoughts before I think them.
You know where I go and where I lie down
You know thoroughly everything I do.
LORD, even before I say a word, you already know it.
You are all around me - in front and in back - and have put your hand on me.
You knowledge is amazing to me, it is more than I can understand.
Where can I go to get away from your Spirit? Where can I run from you?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I lie down in the grave, you are there.
If I rise with the sun in the east and settle in the west beyound the sea,
even there you would guide me, with your right hand you would hold me.
I could say, "The darkness will hide me. Let the light around me turn into night."
But even the darkness is not dark to you. The night is as light as the day; darkness and light are the same to you.

Refreshing, words I have heard time and again. Seeming to come at a time when I was sure no one knew what I was doing except the people I was with. And no, it wasn't anything bad. Nothing even remotely illegal or harmful to anyone.

Anyway, just something to think about.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Last Day

Today was our last day of sightseeing. Tomorrow, we just have a session in the morning, then we're done! I can hardly believe that it's almost over. It's bittersweet. That seems to be the consensus.

We began the morning at the Church of Saint Clemen. I think he was a pope, at least according to Church tradition. The current church building was built, I believe, in the 11th century. Under that is another building from the 4th century. And under that is an even older building. The original building was a Roman house, then an insula (apartment). Part of the insula was turned into a Mithraeum. Which we learned about the other day. Remember, it involved sacrificing a bull and was only for men. That was pretty neat.

There was also a room that had water running through it. Part of the wall was cut through, and the water was just gushing under there. It comes into Rome via aqueduct.

Next it was time to go to the Theater/Auditorium of Maecenas. He was a friend of Octavian Augustus. He was also a patronus/amicus of several poets including Virgil, Propertius and Horace. (You can Google them if you want to know more. He basically would give these guys a house or land or something, and they would feel obligated to mention him in something they wrote. Usually it was nice stuff, or at least a mention that was not totally mean. It sounds a lot like buying their work (free advertising!), but it was actually a little more complicated than that.

So Maecenas had this theater where people would go and read poetry and such. From the outside it looked like a nice place. Unfortunately, we couldn't get in. Even though the sign says that it is open every day from 9-1:30. And it was only, like, 11! So someone called, and they said that it wasn't open today (duh), but would be open on Saturday. Oh, well.

We then had some free time for lunch. Chanda, Jason, and I walked over to our next destination the Castel San'Angelo. After what seemed like forever, but was really only 30 minutes, we made it. We ate our "stolen" sandwiches (made at the hotel this morning, not really stolen) and sat in the shade. I also had a cup of watermelon, because that just looked GOOD!

At 2:00, we met the rest of the group. Sr. Therese gave us some background information on the site, which was originally designed by the emperor Hadrian. Remember him? Once his "friend" Antinoos (sp?) died, he got really morbid and decided to build himself a mausoleum. That's a place to be buried. It is pretty big, just like his villa was yesterday. It is also round, which is normal for that sort of thing.

We walked inside of it, all the way up to the top! It was crazy windy. As an aside, my skirt blew up several times, exposing me to the other people up there. Luckily, I don't think anyone was really paying attention, because they were looking at the incredible VIEW!! From up top, you can see most of the city of Rome. You've got a great view of St. Peter's basilica, and can see everything on top of each of the hills. I took lots of pictures, which will perhaps be taken from my camera today.

I left the castle with James, and accompanied him to Vatican City. We made it through the metal detectors and went into St. Peter's. As usual, it was completely immense and beautiful inside. I pretend not to be awed by the place, but in reality it is overwhelming. We wandered around inside for a little bit. Even went and had a look at Pope John Paul II, who is still lying in there, all waxed up. After we were finished, we went out and got to see the changing of the Swiss guard. That was neat. I took pictures.

Then we came back here to the compound, and here I am! Just a few more days, and the dream is over. Back to reality!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

At the Big House

So, it's just after 11 in the morning at home, but we're already back at the compound for the day. Tee-hee!

Today's adventures took us to two completely different villae. The first was (supposedly) Horace's Sabine Farm. Horace was a Roman poet. He wrote odes, epodes, and some satires. The ruins were not that impressive. Robyn joked that Horace must only have been about a foot and a half tall. The walls were only about that high off of the ground. And they all had asphalt or something on the tops of them, presumably to keep them from eroding or something. It was all very nicely laid out, with an easy-to-read map. Quite lovely.

But it didn't really seem real. Like, it was too perfectly ruined. I dunno. And we weren't allowed to take pictures there. At all! Greg even had to ask permission to take a picture of the sky! But he did take some on the sly. Shhhh!

Then we went up to a fons. That's a fountain. It was a waterfall! It was a loud waterfall. But it was very pretty. And we were allowed to take pictures of that. I took a couple.

Then we got back on the bus and headed over to Hadrian's Villa. Hadrian was an emperor a while back. Obviously, he had more money than Horace. Well, he built this villa out in a place called Tivoli, out of the city of Rome. You know, even an emperor has to get away sometime!

It was magnificent! The walls were about 3 times the size of normal house walls. And there were so many different parts. It wasn't all one big villa. There was the library area. One library for Latin authors, one for Greek authors. There were TWO bath complexes. And remember that when the Romans took a bath they had three different rooms and lots of stuff involved. (See this previous post.) He also had a stadium, where they could have entertainments and races; TWO large reflecting pools; a winter triclinium (dining room); a summer triclinium; not to mention the private parts of the house. WOW! I took a lot of pictures.

I am planning to load my pictures to my computer today, so I hope to be able to upload some tonight. Get caught up, ya know?

We still have our translation and presentation stuff to do tonight. I'm off the hook, but I think a couple more people still have to go. I hope it doesn't last too long, I'm a bit tired and don't want to be rude and fall asleep!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

And even more fun!

Monday

It seemed like a long morning. We had our morning session at the compound. Ron did his presentation about the Pantheon. While I have been to the Pantheon several times, I learned a lot of new information.

Then Amanda did her presentation on Mithraism. That's an ancient cult that involved the slaying of bulls. It was limited to men and very secretive. It spread throughout the Roman world toward the end of the 1st century AD.

Then we went over translation. Bor-ing! I almost fell asleep. I have to admit, this makes me really want to make translation more interesting for my own students. Having someone translate AT me is no fun. Yuck!

We had some time for lunch, then met over at the Pantheon. We wandered around there for a while, then went over to St. Cecilia's in Trastevere. (On the way, I stopped and had a lemon granita. Yummy!) (And we rode on a tram.) We had the opportunity to see some ruins under the church. It was cool. It was a house that then became an insula (apartment). Under the church! We also saw some paintings upstairs that were done by some famous artist. I can't remember his name.

Then Kate, Jason, Michael, and I walked around Trastevere for a while. And then over to the Campo dei Fiori. We were shopping around. We also walked most of the way down the Corso. Jason was looking for shirts and ties to go with his new suit that he bought. Kate and I were looking for jewelry to go with my cute new red dress that I bought last week.

It was a fun evening, topped off with my excellent bartering skills. I got a pair of earrings for 6 euros, and a bracelet for 4 euros. Nice! We also had a nice dinner.

Tuesday:
We took the train to Ostia Antica. Honestly, I was just there last month, so I wasn't too terribly excited about being there again. But we didn't see ANYTHING compared to the last time. We went to the Neptune baths, one house, and the synagogue. That's all. And we were there for like 2 hours! The synagogue was the coolest part. It is way far out from the rest of the town, near to where the shore would have been. My initial thought was: the Romans kicked them out, ostracized them. But really, it was because they wanted to be near to the water, for their ritual cleansing.

Then I went to the beach with James, Nancy, and Robyn. it was a fun time. It was really windy, so the sand kept blowing in my face. And the water was FREEZING! But once you got all the way in, it wasn't too bad. It reminded me of the beaches at home. There were actually shells on this beach, which I hadn't seen at the previous two. And lots of surf. So many waves! It was nice to just lay there and relax.

Afterwards, we went to Termini for dinner. Termini is the train/bus station. There is also a lot of shopping there. We wandered around there for a while. Then we came back to the compound.

Such a nice, relaxing day today. Tomorrow, I think we are traveling by bus. Interesting!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pictures with me and my friends

Okay, so it's time to put some faces with those names I've been dropping. These are the lovely folks that I have been hanging out with in Italy.

This is at the Hard Rock Cafe. It is me, our server Mossimo, Diana, and Carrie.

This is on the Appian Way. That's Jason, Chanda, Michael, and Greg. They've been my main crew through most of the trip.

This is at the Trevi Fountain. That's me, throwing in my coin. Carrie took the pic.

This is at the Domus Aurea. That's Kate and Sister Therese. Kate doesn't usually wear a hard hat. But they made us. Can't be too careful underground!

This is in our room in Pompeii. That's the back of Dawn's head. Kate and I did that cool braid.

This is on top of Mount Vesuvius. This is Allison.

Also on top of Vesuvius. This is James.

This is at the Cave of the Sibyl. That's Robin. She was channeling the Sibyl and prophesying. Not really, but she's pretty crazy most of the time.
There are about 20 other people that I spend my days with. They are all incredibly cool and incredibly strange all at the same time. I have often told my students that all Latin teachers are weird. I can now say that my statement is 100% true. BUT, they are also really neat. What an amazing opportunity, to spend so much time learning with others who have interests like mine. WOW!

Give me Liberty!

Today was by far the most relaxing day we've had so far. While yesterday was nice, I still didn't feel like it was very relaxing. But today, today was relaxed.

I slept late. And by late, I mean like 8:30! Went down, had some breakfast. Came back upstairs. Read my new book for a little while.

But I was bored. Who knew? Who would have ever thought?

So I went out with Diana and Carrie.

We started out the day at the Borghese Gardens. Lovely. We saw the Temple of Aesclepious. He was thought to be the healing god. People would go to his temple to be healed of their ailments. (I could really use him right now, because I have a splitting headache!)

There is a little pond in front of his temple. You can rent rowboats. Which kind of worries me, because the pond is really not all that big. But whatever! There were some fish, ducks, and turtles hanging out in the water.

Then we went over to this fountain. It has the inscription: VITAE LAUDEM MURMURE SUO FONS CANIT. "The fountain sings the praise of life with its own murmur." Nice, huh? We sat there for a while, just being. I like being. It's nice.

Then we went over to the Villa Julia. Which sounds like it should be a house. Belonging to someone named Julia. And perhaps at some point it was. However, now it is a museum. Yes, I went to another one. But this one had lots of pretty gardens outside. Pretty. Inside, there were lots of things. Urns, bowls, mirrors, cups, swords, things from temples, jewelry. Wow! We were there about 2 hours.

I think that I have officially met my museum quota for the next 10 years. Seriously.

Anyway, after that, we needed some fun. So, Carrie wanted to get a tshirt from the Hard Rock Cafe. Coincidentaly, we were not too far away from the Cafe. So we went. And it was AWESOME! I had a bacon cheeseburger and french fries. It was like heaven. Really. Grease never tasted so good! I even stopped being so homesick for a couple of hours. It was nice.

And our waiter was cool. When Diana told him that we were Latin teachers, he started quoting Catullus at us! What are the chances?

In all, it was a fun day. Very relaxing. Which is good, since we start again tomorrow. Only 5 more days of go-go-go. Then 2 more days of rest. Then the plane ride. Then I'm HOME!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Leisure time

Today we were off from the main study days. So what did I do on my first day of rest? Went to a museum.

It's the Palazzo Altemps. It used to be the resident of a Cardinal of the Catholic Church. The guy had a really impressive collection of artwork, let me tell you!

There were a lot of 1st and 2nd century pieces of mythological figures. I got some good pictures of various gods and goddesses.

Before the museum, Carrie and I went by the Trevi Fountain. Legend has it, that if you throw a coin over your shoulder into the fountain, you will return to Rome. Yes, I know it's silly. But I did it. It's worked every time so far!

After the museum, we went and found some food. We actually ate Chinese food! In Rome! It was pretty good. It wasn't nearly as greasy as the Chinese at home. Quite nice. Then we spent a little time in a bookstore. I bought a copy of Colleen McCullough's Antony and Cleopatra. I don't have that particular book yet. She has written an entire series about ancient Rome, which I highly recommend if you haven't read it. It's not really, really boringly historical. Pretty entertaining.

Anyway, then I went and got my nails done. 'Nuff said.

Then we came back here to the compound. We did stop on the way home and get a gelato. I had nutella and menta flavors. They were SOOOOOO good! Have I mentioned that I love gelato? I wish I could bring some of that home with me. It is so yummy.

All in all, it was a good day. It was not too stressful, and my feet do not feel as bad today. I don't really have any plans for tomorrow. I'm sure that I will find something to do. I'd like to go back to the Via del Corso or over to the Campo del Fiori. Or down Tritone street. Who knows?

Friday, July 18, 2008

update on pictures

Okay, these pictures are in some semblance of order. At least the dates are. Sorry! It's late where I am!

This is the famous statue of the she-wolf, Lupa, suckling the twins. Those are Romulus and Remus. Romulus killed his brother then founded the city of Rome. Or maybe he started to found Rome, then killed his brother before he finished. Yeah, I think that's it.


This is a room in the Domus Aurea. If you remember, we discussed that this was the emperor Nero's house. Party palace, I should say. You can still see some of the colors on the wall. If you squint and use your imagination!

This is a picture of a little church I stopped at the other day. It is teeny. It's all nestled back in a corner near the Campo del Fiori. I said a little prayer and lit a candle for my favorite sister! Love ya!

This is a sign used by early Christians. I saw it at the Catacombs of Domatilla. Early Christians used this sign to show which way to go to a church service. Remember, Christianity was still illegal back then. Whichever way the fish was looking, that's the way to go!
This is the spina and meta from the hippodrome on the Appian Way. A spina is the middle of the racetrack, around which the chariots would race. A meta is the round part at the far left, called the turning point. A hippodrome is where chariots would race. That's Jason jumping off the meta. They asked us not to climb on the ruins. Oops.
This is a picture from the Baths of Caracalla. It is really hard to get a sense of the grand scale of this place. So, notice the person standing in the foreground. Then look at the rest of the structure. Now, do some math. This place was HUGE!!!
This is me, standing on the Appian Way. The Via Appia was the first road that was made to/from Rome. It went all the way down the coast. The maker was Appius Claudius. Hence the name. This part of the road is actually the original. It's over 2000 years old. And I stood on it. Even walked a few steps! Wow!
This is a pretty fountain in the Piazza della Repubblica. I just thought it was pretty. It has no historical significance that I know of.

This is my buddy Augustus that I've been talking so much about. Octavianus Augustus Caesar. Here, he is dressed in the Pontifex Maximus outfit. That's the high priest in the Roman religion. This is a famous statue. Commit it to memory.


This is a cool inscription from the epigraphy museum in the Baths of Diocletian. It is the funeral inscription of a Christian named Priscus. Note the dove and chi rho at the top, both Christian symbols. The inscription reads: "Priscus, who lived 36 years, died on the 5th day before the Kalends of June (May 28). His brother made this. Rest in peace." And yes, I really just translated that. I didn't make it up.

Anyway, here ends my lectures for today. I will hopefully have more pictures/stories tomorrow!

The Age of Augustus

Caesar that is, not my B-rex.

So, today I learned everything I never wanted to know about Octavian Augustus Caesar. Wow! That boy had it rough. He was adopted by Julius Caesar. Was given a top-notch education, including study in Athens. Then, Julius gets himself stabbed. So Octavian has to come home. Only, people want him dead too. But he gets out of that. Then later, he fights with Julius' old buddy, Marc Antony. And he wins! So now, Octavian gets to rule the world! The Roman world anyways.

Turns out, Octavian was really a busy guy. He spent some time in Egypt, where he saw an obelisk he liked. He "asked" some guys to bring it back to Rome for him. Which they did, of course. And he set that sucker up as the pointer of a GIGANTIC sundial. In a HUGEMONGOUS open area. Like the size of a few football fields! And it actually kept track, pretty accurately, of the days, weeks, months, zodiac signs (always important), and even the equinoxes. Pretty coool! Too bad all that has been built over. I say that we should just get rid of all those buildings. They're just the Italian Parliament. Not terribly important. (ha ha)

The obelisk still stands, though it has been moved from its original place. Due to the aforementioned buildings.

We did get to go under a church where archeologists have found part of the sundial. However, since that part of Rome often floods (it's called the Campus Martius), they can't leave it open to be looked at. Since they don't want the church to fall down. I did get to see some creepy cool skulls and bones, though. Neat-o!

Also saw the Ara Pacis today. Augustus had it built to commemorate the peace he brought to the Republic/Empire. Quite impressive. Really, it looks like a giant box with the top missing. But once someone points out all the symbolism in the friezes, it becomes cooler to nerds like me.

Did some laundry tonight. There is a laundromat not too far from the compound. And the lady there just does it for you. So, I have all clean clothes!!!! Except what I have on! Yay!!! It's the little things, isn't it?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Down Day?

Today was not quite as busy as yesterday. Which is good. I thought I would fall down from sheer exhaustion!

This morning, we visited the Casae Romanae. Those of you with Spanish training should be able to figure out what that is. The Roman Houses! There is a church, whose name escapes me, with 5 levels of Roman housing underneath. Unfortunately, we were only able to see the top-most layer, I think. The rest we could see through holes in the floor, but not actually reach out and touch. Darn it.

The one level was cool though, because it had an inscription about John and Paul, who were martyred for the sake of Jesus. There was also an altar there. And other ancient stuff. Neat!

Then a group of us went to the Baths of Diocletian. He was an emperor in the 3rd century AD. We did get to go in the Baths, but not in the same way we were in the Baths of Caracalla yesterday. These Baths have been rebuilt as other buildings. Like a church. And a museum. And some other stuff. The church we went into is Santa Maria with Angels, or something. It was HUGE and only took up about 1/10 of the total original Baths.

I can't explain it, you'll just have to come see it yourself.

We also went into 2 museums. Yes, I went into 2 museums. In the same day. And my head did not explode, though I seriously thought it would. The first one held a lot of inscriptions. Like writing etched in marble or other stone. It's called epigraphy. It's cool. I tried to take pics of some to show my students.

The second museum had a lot of statues. Including one famous statue of the emperor Augustus (27 BC-14 AD) dressed in his Pontifex Maximus robes. I'd actually never heard of it, but maybe someone else out there has. We specifically went to this museum, the Palasso Massimo, to view a room from Livia's house. It contains the wall paintings (frescoes) from her dining room (triclinium). They are very pretty!

Livia was the wife of Augustus. I think. It's hard to keep all those women straight, especially since very little is written about them.

After that museum, Kate, Carrie, and I went to eat lunch, then over to St. Peter's Basilica. That is also known as Vatican City, for those of you who don't know or may be confused. Since I had just been there last month, I didn't feel the need to go back into the basilica itself. Instead, I just went into the gift shop, where I bought gifts for several family members. And yes, I know they are not all Catholic, but deal. It's from a foreign country. That alone makes it cool.

After that, we went back to the compound/hotel. not too strenuous.

I have been trying, somewhat unsuccessfully, to get the past few days worth of pictures off of the camera. It is taking a long time. I promise that I will post some as soon as I finish.

Looking forward to the weekend. Once we're done tomorrow, around 5:00, I am free until Monday morning! Some folks are talking about going to Orvieto on Saturday. I don't know. It is an ancient Etruscan city. And I've never been there. But it requires taking a train. And those aren't cheap. It's like 15 Euro round trip (about $25). Plus food. And entrance to whatever sights are up there. But what would I do if I stayed here? Sit around all day, most likely.

Oh, decisions. If only my Hubs were here! He'd help me decide! Maybe I should have asked him when I was talking to him earlier. Oh. well.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Aliae Villae

So, I have lost count of how many Roman villae I have seen since coming ad Italiam just 2 short weeks ago. Villae are country houses. they are usually a pretty good size, and contain many rooms. Most of the rooms are situated around the central atrium, which was open to the air and often had a small pool in the middle to catch rainwater (impluvium). Remember, these were the days before indoor plumbing was big!

Yesterday, we saw the largest villa of all, by far. It was the Domus Aurea, which was built by the emperor Nero. It took up, I believe, four hills in Rome, not to mention the valleys in between. How did he manage this?

Well, in 64 AD, there was a big fire, and much of Rome burned to the ground. It makes sense, since everything was made of wood. Anyway, Nero took the opportunity to buy up a lot of property. The complex, and that's really what it was, contained all sorts of rooms and areas. There was a whole section of the house (domus) that was just for entertaining! Nero was a big partier! And one of the valleys, where the Colosseum now sits, was actually an artificial lake. There was also a large statue of Nero as Apollo the sun god (the colossus) outside the lake. The lake was, apparently, in the midst of a large pastoral area.

Nero had more money than sense. Bless his heart!

Anyway, I got to go into part of the Domus Aurea (Golden House) in the afternoon. I had been there previously, in college, but had not been back since. Evidently part of the ceiling had collapse, so they didn't want anyone to get hurt. I got to wear a hard hat!

In the morning, before the D.A., we went to the Colosseum. Since I was just at the Colosseum last month, it was not quite as exciting as you might expect. I didn't really wander as much as I normally do. But I did see this cool exhibit on Roman Triumphs. Roman generals had a triumph when they won a war. It was like a big parade, kind of like a baseball team winning the World Series or something. There were coins, friezes, frescos, etc. I took lots of pictures, which I will share when the time is right. Like when I get them off the camera.

Today, we saw dead people. Well, not really. We went to the Catacombs of Domatilla. That's where early Christians buried their dead. They are underground, in 4 levels. It was cold down there! I recommend a sweater if you visit. It was pretty neat. There was a painting in a vault which depicted Peter and Paul on either side of Jesus, listening to the story of the dead man, preparing to judge his destination. It was neat. No pictures of this stuff. Most of the graves were empty, as grave robbers had stolen the bodies.

Before that, we had been to the Baths of Caracalla. He was an emperor (wasn't everyone?). He built really big baths. See, in ancient times, not everyone had a bathroom in their house. In fact, it was pretty uncommon. So the Romans had public baths. There was a changing room where you left your clothes. A warm bath (tepidarium). A hot bath (calidarium). A cold bath (frigidarium). There were even places to work up a sweat, like a gym (palaestra). And when I say "bath", it's not like they took soap and scrubbed. The "bath" was more a swimming pool.

When you finished sweating and "bathing", you went to a separate room and got rubbed down with oils and perfumes. Then a slave scraped it all off with a strigil. Not exactly hygenic to us, but it was normal back then.

Anyway, we also saw a large tomb today. And then went out to the Villa of the Quintili. It's pretty big also. These brothers, the Quintili, had done well for themselves. They had a big round room and baths. Right in the house! Unfortunately, they got killed when they got on the emperor's bad side. I can't remember which emperor, or else you'd get another lecture.

Tomorrow, we're going to see some church that has the remains of yet ANOTHER house under it. I have never seen this many houses before! Not even when Hubs and I were house hunting! I hope I don't go crazy after all this.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Some pictures!

Here are some pictures from Rome. I have tried to be brief in my explanations, but I can't make any promises! I am a teacher after all!

Pink Puffy tree outside of our hotel. These are actually called mimosa trees. They are GiGi's favorite type of tree!

The Italian flag flying in front of the Victor Emmanuelle building. The building is commonly referred to as a "wedding cake" because of all its layers. The Italians don't like it much. But I thought it was a cool shot.

A piece of the Palace of Domitian. He was an emperor in the first century AD. He built a HUGE palace on the Palatine Hill in Rome. He built over several other former royal residences, so there are layers and layers of ruins there. It's cool!

This is a picture of me (duh) on the Circus Maximus. The Circus was used for horse racing in ancient time. Now, you will notice that there are not any ruins in the background. That's because the Circus was used as a quarry for many other buildings in Rome. So there's nothing left. It's just a big open field. Cool!!!

This is a shot of the Roman Forum from the Capitoline Museum. You will see the Arch of Septimus Severus there in the foreground. All the way over to the right is the Basilica Julia. Strangely enough, in ancient times a basilica was not a church in ancient times. It was used as a meeting place and market. This particular one was named after Julius Caesar's daughter. Daughters were always named after their fathers, just a feminine form. Julius to Julia.

This is the required shot of the Colosseum. The street outside of here, the Via del Imperiori Fori, was actually closed off to auto traffic on Sunday, so I stood out in the middle of the street for this picture. Usually, you can't do that, as there is a LOT of traffic there. It's one of the main roads in Rome.

Monday, July 14, 2008

In the City, the hot, hot city

So, after we went to Capri last week, we had a short session on Friday, then the rest of the day free. I didn't really do much, just some laundry and packing. I picked up a couple of souvenirs for the boys too. Slow day. Honestly, I was wicked bored. I wish I'd gone out somewhere to do SOMETHING. A lot of the group went to the beach in Sorrento, but I'd just gone the day before. And nobody asked me. You know how I hate to invite myself along anywhere.

So Saturday was another traveling day. We left Pompeii, then went to Formiae, where Cicero's tomb is located. In case you don't know, Cicero was a Roman orator. He was a "new man", meaning his family didn't have old money. He'd kind of started at the bottom and worked his way up. He was also a consul (like a co-president) at one point. Mostly, though, he advocated for people. Lots of his speeches survive, they were just that good! He's not my favorite Roman author, too long-winded for me. He does get grammar and style points, however.

Then, after lunch, which was amazing!, we went to Arpinum. This is Cicero's hometown. We got to go to the piazza, where there is a statue of Cicero. There is also some Roman road that is being excavated. And busts of Gaius Marius and Agrippa. You can look them up if you want. Both were important in Roman times.

Finally, we arrived in Rome. Now, I've been here a few times. The last one less than 4 weeks ago! But we're staying in a different kind of hotel. It's actually a monastery, I think. I know that there is a huge chapel, and people they call "brothers." You figure it out. Basically, you walk in, and there are concrete walls and a gate. It's a bit intimidating. To some people. You know that kind of stuff doesn't bother me!

Yesterday, we had yet another free day! It seems like that's all we do, but I promise that when we tour, we go HARD!

Anyway, I went with some buddies around the city. We started at the Capitoline Museum, which is totally cool. I hadn't been there since college. There are tons of statues and busts (the head and shoulders) of gods, goddesses, and famous ancients. I got a couple of shots of Sophocles and Homer. I hope they come out.

Next, it was off to eat some lunch! Then to the Piazza Navona. There's a really cool fountain there: Four Rivers. However, it has been under construction for like 2 years now. I don't know what they're doing, but they need to finish! You can't see the fountain hardly at all, just the obelisk sticking out of the top. (An obelisk is a tall, skinny thing. Like the Washington Monument. Only these are much smaller.)

Then we walked around to the Pantheon. The over to the Area Sacra. That was cool. They've found these 4 temples which date from the 4th century BC. They've also uncoverd Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus' portico (porch), where Julius Caesar was supposedly stabbed on March 15, 44 BC. Cool, huh?

Then we walked over to the Tiber river, and crossed some bridges. We also went onto the Isola Tivertina (Tiber Island) which is where the Romans used to have a hospital. Good idea, since it's surrounded by water. Keeps the diseases from escaping!

Then it was down to the Circus Maximus. You can't actually see much of the structure anymore, only a tiny corner of it is visible. But there is a dirt track there, which kind of follows the original course. The Circus was used for horse racing in ancient times. It's like NASCAR, but with horses instead. I'd never actually walked on the track before, so that was really cool! I even took a picture of my feet on the Circus. So cool!!!! And yes, that makes me a big nerd, but I'm okay with that.

That was the end of our day. We took the Metro back to the hotel/prison, and settled down for the night.

Hands hurt now. Will update more later. And perhaps add some pictures.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Isle of Capri

Today was such a fun day. I got to sleep in until after 8:00! Then, I went with some of my new friends to Capri. We took the HydroFoil over to the island. It's like a giant speedboat. Very choppy waters on the way over. I almost lost my crossaint. Then we rode up the funicular (cable car) and walked up to the Villa Iovis. It's where the emperor Tiberius lived the last 10 or so years of his life. Anyway, it is all the way up on the northeast tip of the island. It took about an hour to walk up there. But the view!!! So worth it.

Then we went to the beach. I can't wait to show everyone the pictures! The beach is all rocks. Smooth rocks, but still rocks. I had to wear my flip-flops into the water, because walking on the rocks hurt my feet. The water there is so clear! And I think even more so because there is no sand to muck it up. We stayed there for a couple of hours, then went to catch the boat back to the mainland.

The mainland 'porto' is Sorrento. Such a beautiful city! One of my favorite places in Italia. We walked up to the main square and found a place for dinner. I had a yummy pizza with cheese, ham, and mushrooms. So good! And a tomato salad (sliced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and some herbs - mmmmmm!). Once we all finished eating, we decided to go back to Pompeii where we are staying. We caught the Circumvesuviana (the local train), and headed back.

It was such a great day. Tomorrow, we only have a short session in the morning, then the rest of the day free again. I think some people are talking about going back to Sorrento. We didn't really get to look around there much, and I would like to buy folks some souvenirs!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

On the way, to Pompeii

OMG! I have been in Italia for 4 days now. I promise that I will update pictures soon. We have been staying in Cumae at the Villa Vergiliana. The Internet here is really slow, so I have not been able to upload anything. Sorry! When we get to Pompeii, hopefully the connection will be better, and I'll be able to upload some pics.

We have been all over the Bay of Baiae. We visited the island of Ischia. It is beautiful! Very lush and green. We took a ferry over, which was cool. We saw the inside of a museum. There was also a church with some ancient Greek ruins under it. They were really cool. (And it was nice and cool down there, which was good because it was HOT outside!) Then my new friends Chanda, Diana, Andrea, and I went out to lunch at a restaurant overlooking the beach. We even navigated the local bus system to get there! Then we went swimming!!!! The water was clear, cool, and wonderful. It was perfect after a hot day.
The second day we went to Cumae. I will tell you about that tomorrow. Or whenever.
BTW, if you've not had Italian wine lately, I highly recommend it. We've got this nice wine in a juice carton. Only $2 per box! Red. Try it!