February 7, 2007

day 25: fountain climbing etc.

la foto piĆ¹ bella
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.