Saturday, June 13, 2009

Villas, Ostia (again), and a visit from a friend

Thursday our group was scheduled to make trips to two Republican villas in the area of Rome. We showed up at the first site, which is located under a modern day civic auditorium, only to find that there was a small business owners association meeting that day and Berlusconi was making an appearance later in the day so we were very roughly escorted far away from the door by the sleazy security guard who told us that we could not be close. So, we revised our plans and instead went to the villas pictured above, which is located next to a highway (strange, right?). They discovered it when they started building the highway. We learned about late Republican and "classical" villa types.
Friday, we were scheduled to go to a site in the city of Rome, but it was deemed too dangerous as they are building an apartment building next to the excavation site so on the spur of the moment our directors decided to take us to Ostia Antica, which is where many of us had gone on Sunday. Its always nice to go places again, but with less than a week in between we hadn't even had time to miss it. Luckily, we were able to see some new things this time including an excavation by the University of Texas of one of the earliest known synagogues. At one point, we lost part of our group (well everyone in our group except myself, the director and one another student) so we had to climb to the top of one of the buildings and look out over the city. We also saw a group of first graders from the International School of Rome on a field trip and they were very excited about some ancient bricks that they sat on for lunch. I think the bricks may have actually been modern and just set in that location, but it made the kids happy so who really cares?

After we returned from Ostia, my friend Libby arrived. She attends UVA with me and studies Renaissance architecture and is studying Italian for the summer in Padua. She decided to come down to Rome for the weekend so we had dinner at the Academy last night and today we walked all around Rome (literally, I'm pretty sure we managed to walk around the entire city, every street, i'm not even kidding). In the morning we went to visit the Villa Farnesina which has a lot of Raphael paintings and then we went to some churches and in the afternoon we went to the Palazzo Barberini which also has a collection of Renaissance paintings.

After that, we did some minor shopping (mostly for gifts) and collapsed in my room from exhaustion.
2-Ostia Mosaic
3-Villa Farnesina

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