January 31, 2007

day 18: Alba Fucens

la foto piĆ¹ bella
down a street in Alba Fucens

un menzione d'onore
town beneath the mountains

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the day's events:

morning rush hour in Romeah, the journey to Alba Fucens, one of the farther-removed sites we visited on a tuesday field trip. we had a slow time getting out of Rome, since we had to traverse the whole city to get to the autostrada. i took a picture of traffic on the way, which Walsh mocked me for taking. i guess that means by this time i was already sitting at the front of the bus. oh, and i'm glad i took the picture. moving on:

today was our second all-day field trip. the two stops were Alba Fucens and the villa of Horace. there was talk that there may be snow at the site in Alba Fucens (hence the Alba in the name, i presume) but in fact it was sunny and extremely pleasant there. Alba Fucens is pretty high in the foothills, and we could see that it was raining in the valley. i tried to check the forecast before we left. Alba Fucens isn't the name of the modern town, which is Albe. i tried looking that up on weather.com and it just laughed at me. when we got there i realized why. there are approximately 5 buildings in Albe, 1 of which is the site visitors' center, and 2 of which are churches. we were promised a bathroom break when we arrived in Albe, but there was only one toilet in the whole town, so the process took a good long time.
as i recall, Luke and someone else struck out to use the bushes. i got in line for the actual toilet. then Eli and i and maybe Chris decided that using nature's toilet wouldn't be such a bad idea, except as soon as we went to try to find a place, all three people who live in Albe showed up and our plot was foiled. we wound up at the end of the potty line. about 2/3 of the way through they ran out of toilet paper (not a big issue for the men) and we had to figure out how to say "toilet paper" in italian. we knew the word for paper and pointed at the toilet and that got the message across. then on to the site itself.

crypt of the Church of St. Peter...well, actually no, one stop before the site. we stopped at the church of St. Peter which was built on the foundations of the former temple to Apollo at Alba Fucens. the church had been rebuilt after an earthquake which destroyed much of it. we got some time to wander around it, including down into the crypt beneath the altar, which was pretty cool. i was starting to get the hang of using my camera at this point, so i took a couple long-exposure shots down there because the only light was provided by a small window. [see creepy 2-second exposure shot which includes Faceless Alicen.] then the custode of the sight came and turned on the light switch that we didn't know about. kinda ruined the atmosphere.

...wait no, two stops before the site. we also stopped in the amphitheater, which was pretty awesome. got some time to explore there. this panorama shot has a horrendous stitching error in it, so watch out for a redux in the next day or two.

AF amphitheater panorama

Alba Fucensah, the view over the hellhole that was Alba Fucens. i had a photo nearly identical to this one (except i think mine's better) hanging over my bed back at the Centro. it was sometime in March when i looked up and said "hey wait a minute, that's Alba Fucens." =P

[when we got to the actual site] we were split up into groups and had to deduce what our assigned part of the site was. i was stuck in group six, which was assigned letter S on the map. we asked "where are we now on the map" just to orient ourselves and were told: S. we had to watch as the rest of the groups trekked down into the site. after some debate we realized that our building was originally a quite large villa, and we identified the particular types of masonry used. Prof. Walsh came to check on us and we asked if we would have time to roam the site. at first he said no but we told him that we'd be totally cheated if that were the case, and he conceded 15 minutes to us. in that time i ran around and took lots of photos.

mossy rockmosaic remnantdedicatory columncaldarium substructure 1

i wonder if Walsh was just being a dick when he told us that, because we got about a half hour to explore. the photos i took show a lot about how early in the semester it still was. my favorite is the OMGMOSAIC picture. i thought that was really impressive, even though it was about the shabbiest mosaic scrap we ever saw. i also like the artistic moss-on-a-rock shot, and all those people who made fun of me for being artistic can just shove it (see top of post).
by the time we finished presenting our site "autopsies" it was definitely lunchtime. Albe is essentially a dead town though, so Walsh decided it would be more interesting to go down the road a ways to Carsoli and eat there. we acquiesced and piled in the bus. upon arrival in Carsoli we realized there is little or no reason to go there. everything was closed, so it was pretty boring, and all the school children were on their lunch break, free around town. a bunch of middle school boys came and started hitting on the female Centriste. unamused, Luke, the biggest guy in our group and decently proficient in italian went to talk to them. the resulting conversations were pretty hilarious. they decided to try their english skills on us. the boys knew two main phrases: "what is your name?" and "we like pussy." some of their female classmates joined the conversation, and their vocabularies were a little better. one asked Luke why on earth we came to their town. he explained that we were on the way back from Alba Fucens and she gave him this look as if to say "you poor poor soul, i'm sorry you had to come here." Carsoli is a pretty forsaken town, and i really felt bad for some of the people living there (basically everyone except the pervert schoolboys).

Alicen swingingwe had a little more time to kill and Kerry, Alicen, and i walked a few blocks from the main square, through the public park where Alicen tried out the playground equipment. at long last we reboarded the bus and headed for the site of Horace's villa. on the way back we met another group of people. a drunk bum asked us if we were german. i'm not sure why he thought that, but we told him "no, non siamo tedeschi."
ah Carsoli, how i don't miss you at all. onward to the villa (whose exact location i don't know at all. i'd like to geotag my photos, so if anyone has an idea, let me know).
the villa was really quite palatial and impressive, and although only about 1 foot tall in their present state, the remnants of the walls were quite well preserved.
bathhouse shenanigansis that really all i had to say about it then? man, i must have been tired. we got an intro lecture from Fenton, whose humor we were now starting to appreciate. he made the "don't conflate the historical poet and the poet's narrator" argument with a reference to Sting. then we started moving around the site. the tablinum was pointed out to us, which is really awesome as long as we've got the right villa. then to the bath complex, where some general shenanigans went down. then a lovely tour past Horace's toilet. then...
Fons 2after touring the ruins, we went up the hill to a natural spring. that spring may be the famous "fons Bandusiae" that Horace wrote about, if indeed the villa was his. we played around at the fountain for a while...Walsh told us we could drink from the fountain if we wanted, and clearly at our own risk. i opted out of that, but many people did.
i should have drunk it. couldn't hurt, right?
we had a slow, traffic-plagued ride back into Rome, but got back significantly before dinner. i made a run to the enoteca and got wine for dinner and fanta for later. at dinner Alicen, Kerry and i split the wine, but Kerry only took a splash, leaving quite a bit for Alicen and i. oh well, it helped ease along the greek homework afterwards.
at this point i hadn't learned to pour wine without asking. =)