February 14, 2007

too dumb for words

i know i'm several days behind now...it's a shame that this seems like work instead of fun to me. anyhow, i stumbled across this on facebook just now, since one of my friends who is on the Michigan program in Florence went to Rome for a few days and was tagged in this album. she is not the one responsible for this idiocy though:

honestly, they should keep people this dumb out of the forum. maybe the country.

February 9, 2007

day 27: another ?

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therefore no clue how the day was spent. although i think that Alicen and Kerry and i hashed out our plans for going to Firenze on saturday. i felt like i was just tagging along...crazy pre-unholy-trinity times.

February 8, 2007

day 26: how to go where you aren't supposed to at the forum

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reflection of Castor and Pollux

due menzioni molto strani

Vestal fish?what's going on here?

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the day's events:

just a forum field trip, but the first one where we got to go in stuff that's closed to the general public. on the agenda was the basilica Aemilia, house of the Vestals, and the basilica Julia. how does one get into these fenced-off sites? we were just learning how this process works at the time. it's really quite simple.

1. know Franco (preferably have him call ahead)
2. show up
3. send Walsh off in search of the custode
4. wait
5. wait a little more
6. jump the fence once you're in the line of sight of the custode
7. repeat for each site

Aemilia frieze 1Aemilia frieze 2we did just so. getting into the basilica Aemilia is worth it to get a good look at the frieze fragments preserved there, depicting the punishment of Tarpeia and the rape of the Sabine women. without jumping the fence and running the length of the basilica, you have to lean over a railing on the south ramp entrance to the forum to get any sort of decent look at them.

the house of the Vestals is such a crucial part of the forum, i'm surprised that it's actually closed to the public. many other people told me that it used to be open. perhaps it was related to the work going on at the neighboring regia. i hope they open it in the future.

carved gameboardthe basilica Julia is little more than a raised platform any more, but getting to climb up on it and look at the floor let us see all of the carvings in the pavement, including several game boards.

i've got nothing on the rest of the day.

February 7, 2007

day 25: fountain climbing etc.

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Brett climbs the fountain

i menzioni d'onore

contrail over Praeneste field in the Latin valley

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the day's events:

tomb of Aeneasback towards the mountains for another tuesday field trip. of course there were intermediate stops (Franco's trip planning is nothing if not efficient). first stop was poor Elizabeth's site report. the tomb of Aeneas ain't much to see, it's not his tomb anyway, and when it's freezing cold and 30mph winds, no one cares. all i remember is huddling down in my coat and praying that we could get under shelter soon. oh, and Mel's priceless yet accurate description of what the "tomb" is: a bird-shat-upon tarp on a pile of rocks.

the thirteen altarsjust across the windswept field were the twelve...wait no, thirteen...and there might be more...altars. no one knows exactly who they were to or why they're where they are but...there they are. they were at least contained in some form of structure which partially blocked the wind, even though it let the horrendous cold in. we toured up and down the row of altars and said let's get the hell out of here.

reused columnsthen we took the bus into Palestrina, or at least as close as you can get to Palestrina. it's a hillside town in the purest sense, so you can only get so close in a bus (motorini and small cars can venture into the town proper). there was an outdoor escalator to get up the hill into the town center. we got a brief lecture about what we'd be seeing after lunch and were shown some ancient architecture that was incorporated into modern buildings. then we had free time for eating and wandering the town.

Brett climbed a fountain (see above). this was when we really and truly learned that he has a passion for climbing on anything. i guess in retrospect maybe i should have given him the top bunk in our room. we were dead convinced that he was going to fall into the pool. it wasn't much water, but definitely enough to make him uncomfortable for the whole afternoon. he didn't slip up and stayed dry.

we also saw an odd WWII monument, the beautiful view, some pretty and some strange graffiti.

WWII statue, Praenestesmall muralsstrange graffiti

after our break it was up to the very top of town to the archaeological museum. it was built in a palazzo built on the ruins of a greek-style theater. the main attraction was the large Nilotic mosaic, which Alicen did her site report. at her urging, we lied down on the floor in the exhibit hall so we could pretend that the mosaic, which was on the wall, was on the floor like it would have originally been. can't remember much of what else was in that museum (no pictures of course, the bastards) but i think there might have been some sort of glass floor thing where you could see down into ancient levels that the modern structure was built upon.

then out in front of the museum to the sanctuary of Fortuna just below it. a pretty impressive monument with a pretty impressive view of both the town nearby and the Latin plain spreading into the distance. if the conditions were better, i think we could have literally seen all the way back to Rome. but there seemed to be a perpetual haze over any sort of long view wherever we went in Italy, even where pollution seemed to be an implausible reason. anyhow, you know i can't resist taking a panorama shot when i have the chance:

Latin valley panorama

at the topcolumn remainsalso of interest: first photo evidence of the unholy trinity (although i'm not sure we thought of ourselves as a unit at that point...at least i didn't). and, i have to include it, another photo i got made fun of. Ellie criticized me for crouching down to get this shot. i thought i could get a nice artistic shot of the row of column stubs. art is underappreciated.

February 6, 2007

day 24: delicious

non c'è niente foto oggi...

but who cares? today was meat log day!
tonight's second course at dinner was a veritable meat log: a sausage rolled in chicken rolled in bacon. you can imagine the immature innuendo that came from that. what you might not expect was the fact that it all came from the end of the table where Walsh, Mira, and Fenton were sitting. there is something to be said for dining with your professors every night. some particular gems:

Mira: "i think there's a bone in mine"
Fenton: "that's there for extra rigidity"

Fenton: "and it's cooked in butter."
Walsh: "well you need to throw some lube on there."

then the conversation turned to the evolution of metal music. i forget the band in question (was it Rush?) but Fenton pulled out this gem:
"it's like masturbatory guitar playing crossed with Ayn Rand."

needless to say this was the most bizarre dinner i've had so far. and no i was not drinking.
i remembered the Rush-bashing, but i totally forgot that quote from Fenton. priceless.

February 5, 2007

day 23: super sunday

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Alicen and Kerry say...
awwwwwww...forza Lazio!

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the day's events:
i definitely wrote a good, detailed account of this 20-hour day (whew!), so here it is. also be sure to check out the first installment of video clips along with photos (the link is in the quoted post).

sunday was a looooooooooooooong day.

we started early, 8 45 heading out for the flea market at Porta Portese. i had heard that a) it was huge and b) watch your cash while you're there. at least the former proved to be very very true. we approached it from V.le di Trastevere, and therefore got no appreciation of its magnitude at first. i thought i had seen maybe half of it at first glance. i in fact had seen about 10% of it. there are hundreds of stalls and you can buy damn near anything there. most of it is junk, bootleg, or stolen, but it's a bargain, so what the heck.

there was some crazy stuff. busted computers, rotary phones, cacti, clothes of all descriptions, food...literally everything. we only made it through about half or maybe two thirds of the market. we found the stall we were looking for though, calcio apparel. i and several others got lazio hats, Jon got a lazio scarf, and Andrew got a lazio flag, all in prep. for that night's match against Milan. i would have liked to spend a little more time looking at the other junk, but we were there for a long time as it was. the 1 euro cactus was really tempting though, despite the superfluousness of it.

we headed back to the Centro area (back up the steps because none of us dared take our wallets to the market, and therefore didn't have our bus passes either) and got some pizza for lunch. at 3 00 the early calcio matches came on tv and we watched some. for the people going to the calcio match and therefore missing the usual dinner hour, Luke had purchased 3 kilos of hamburger and we had a good American cookout in the garden in honor of the Super Bowl coming up that night. we had no plates, no cups...just hunks of meat and cheese on a bun in one hand and two wine bottles to pass around. it was awesome: the beef was cooked to perfection and the company and weather were both good.

start of the gamewe were really anticipating the Lazio match that night though. we had a huge group going (19 Centristi, Prof. Walsh and his girlfriend Mira) and were really pumped. we were expecting to get slaughtered since Milan was clearly the better team. Lazio played to a scoreless first half and we were kinda surprised that the Curva Nord, the season ticket holders section at the opposite end of the stadio was surprisingly quiet. apparently they were having a protest against the new team owner and not cheering at all during the first half. the small, fenced-in Milan contingent started lighting flares and exploding things early on though. mostly just flares, but they tossed one full-blown firework into the next section which was at least empty (i doubt they're rowdy enough or stupid enough to throw them into people). the stadium was about half full...not exactly the packed Big House that i'm used to, but the atmosphere was still fun.

in the second half the Curva Nord came out in full flag-waving force. Lazio continued to play OK and Milan couldn't get anything going. we heard some interesting songs in the second half. two variations of "Forza Lazio Alè" to the tunes of Yellow Submarine and Battle Hymn of the Republic, and a strange one from the Milan contingent to the tune of the Mickey Mouse Club theme. we watched the clock closely (just an analog clock. they've got a huge freaking scoreboard and they don't put the score or the time on it. i really don't understand that one.) and we made it to the 90th minute still 0-0 despite a shot off the crossbar from Milan. with about 5 minutes left, i uttered words i thought would never cross my lips: "i'd be really happy with a scoreless tie here." and a scoreless tie we got. we piled onto a majorly crowded bus and made the long ride back to the Centro for some good, American football.

ok let's face it. the Super Bowl was a lousy game. 1.) no American commercials. 2.) the Steelers won. 3. the officiating was bona fide TERRIBLE 4.) i had to stay up until 4AM. i actually bailed with 7 minutes left in the game when it was certain who would win. i got my 6 hours sleep and rolled out of bed for the morning city course lecture. good stuff.

February 4, 2007

day 22: lazy saturday

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saturday was pretty laid back. i mostly stayed around the Centro because i had to get my laundry done. but Alicen, Kerry, and i went down to Trastevere for lunch to try to find the place that Scott told me had the best pizza on the planet. the name of the place i had from him was Pizzeria Panotoni, but at the same address we instead found a Pizzeria Frontoni. i think it was the same place because the pizza was indeed excellent, and pretty cheap. it was a nice large cafe with plenty of indoor seating. while we were in there a crazy gypsy-ish guy came in and ordered a drink and walked around in his backless shoes, long coat, and yarmulke-looking hat, muttering. he also had a large crucifix in a plastic shopping bag. it was a littel surreal, but he left pretty quickly.

we took the 44 back up the hill instead of the steps and got off a stop early to walk through a park down there. it was pretty nice, lots of interesting fountains, and it was really nice outside despite being cloudy. Kerry and Alicen have photos that i will have to steal from them since i didn't have my camera. we came back to the centro and began our calcio-watching spree. basically i did some homework and that for the rest of the day, apart from going to Bruno's for dinner. i had a great tortellini dish and we ordered the house red wine. it was pretty awful, i must say. i was surprised because their house white was quite good. oh well. a late english premier league football match ended at about 11 30 and we were already passing out on the couches, so we called it an early night, esp. since we were planning on hitting the flea market sunday morning.