Here are two really different things I did last week, there’s some history thrown in there, it was all really interesting!
Last Monday the interns were able to go on a tour of the Scavi, the excavation center of the Vatican. We went to see the levels underground of Saint Peter’s Basilica. The Basilica was built on top of a Pagan Cemetery on the Circus Nero. The cemetery was completely filled in with dirt next to the Capitoline Hill to make a level foundation for the basilica. We walked through the monuments of the cemetery which were at 98% humidity…it was HOT, but awesome to see the different ways these cemeteries were created for people of different classes. The coolest part of the tour was seeing where St. Peter’s remains were. They are directly under the top of the Dome; he was buried in a “poor mans” grave. The tour was really cool and is really hard to book; usually you have to months in advance! But our office got us an in 🙂 haha. The entire tour I could hear the choir singing up in the Basilica which was very fitting background music. After the tour we went into the Basilica for a bit where they were holding mass before returning to work! Unfortunately no pictures were allowed.
Saturday and Sunday was my field trip to the south of the Lazio Region for my class, Performance in Rome, these two days were jam-packed. It started our very frantic Riley just made it to the station on time for the train to Anzio. The excitement continued when only Natalie and Abbie got off the train and the doors closed behind them as they watched the other 8 of us and the professor head to the next stop. Just a short setback to our first stop! We started in Anzio and went to a museum of the military landing in Anzio in 1944, it had authentic uniforms and other items donated by people for the museum. We watched a documentary about the landing in Anzio of US and British soldiers.
After we drove to Sabaudia to look at examples of Fascist Architecture. On the drive over my professor was using the microphone in the bus (he loooved it) and was pretending to be a tour guide, he told us about a mountain in front that you can see the face of a woman and then he said, “on the right you will see the Mediterranean, to the left trees” we all thought it was so funny (I think it was a ‘you had to be there thing’). This was one of the five cities Mussolini built in five years, with a completely modern style. He had the land made suitable for living, drained out the water (it was by the sea). The Fascist symbols that used to be there have mostly been removed, but we saw some remnants of fascism in the city. We were split into 2 groups to take pictures of examples of symbols of fascism. The buildings were utilitarian style, all the same color and structure the same, square way. The streets were grid-like for organization and there were many open green spaces, which were good for “mass gatherings” these spaces were needed to for people to get together to hear about the fascist movement. We saw on a pot-hole cover the symbol of fascism the fasch which is an Ax and Bundle, an Ancient Roman symbol for strength. We also looked at the church there which had a mosaic of Mary being told by the angel she was going to carry the Son of God. But in the background you see the city of Sabaudia with workers one of them is Mussolini. He was often depicted working in the field with others as a sign of his physical strength. After we had a really nice lunch right on the water (I had seafood again). The sun was already going down and it was such a pretty view, when the sun wasn’t blinding me…
After lunch we bussed to Formia, the city where my professor lives actually, for a theater workshop. We worked with a theater company “Imprevisiti e Probabilità” our professor directed the workshop. It was really funny because we had to all make a sound that described how we were feeling, then we had to use that sound to “drill a hole in the wall” then to “caress a baby” then add a movement it felt super silly but it was fun. Then we made a sound machine with out sound and movements, it turned out cool and sounded nice(-ish) haha. Our last task was to be in a group and we were assigned an element to come up with a sound and movement for, I was with one other student and 4 Italians in the theater we were wind “Aire”. We used one of the movements I came up with! I think we were the best element to be honest…hah. Walking out of the workshop we saw a fight break out between 2 girls about 15 years old one was from Formia, she was telling the other one from Napoli to go home, cursing at her, pulling hair it was a physical fight. My professor actually ran over got in the middle and calmed the girl down and to walk away, (Go Rafe!)
Last stop before the B&B was to Itri Museum of Brigantaggio. It took about 20 minutes for me to figure out what they were talking about and then we were all still really confused why we were there. What I understood was the Brigantaggio were rebels… ? We all were staring at each other like what is going on. We were tired and no one had learned about this before so oh well. Our professor was translating things from the Italian guide and sometimes he would just kinds drift off and shrug his shoulders because the lady was talking so fast he couldn’t catch it all. I’d say this was my least favorite part of the trip.
We went to the B&B Villa Olga, it was gorgeous the rooms were huge we had a beautiful view of the sea and mountains over our balcony, below orange, clementine, lemon, and apple trees. That night we had a meeting with representatives from ANPI the National Association of Italian Partisans. The president from the Formia region was 20 years old, the others we met with were in high school. ANPI is an anti-fascist political group they told us their platform and how they got involved. They were all very impressive so involved and passionate about ANPI and politics, especially at such a young age.
Sunday we also has a jam-packed day, starting with going to Sperlonga to visit an Archeological museum and Emperor Tiberius’s Villa by the sea. We saw the grotto where the Emperor used to hold dinners and where the statues from scenes of the Odyssey used to be. Once there was the collapse of the Roman Empire priests came in, made it a church and destroyed the statues by throwing them into the pool. In the 1950’s the Grotto was found again overgrown with grass and trees etc. but archeologists found pieces of the statues in the pool of the grotto. The statues were reconstructed and put in the museum we went into. Here there is the only statue deprecation of Ulysses, a bust.
Our next stop was Gaeta, (before going there we made a pit stop in another city to see a fresco mural on a wall, it was very beautiful) in Gaeta we had a walk around the historic center and walked up to these two old castles. It was so windy we thought we were going to blow away, water from the sea flooded the street at sea level. My professor said they thought a hurricane was coming which is unheard of for Italy.
After we had a 2 hour lunch at a place that had “slow food” advertised, it was slow (but this really means all prepared fresh and on site which makes it worth the wait! We had two more stops after lunch, to Maranola to see the Madonna del Latte crypt where there are ancient frescos of the Virgin Mary feeding baby Jesus. Then they took us to another church around the corner to see an ancient nativity scene. Last we went to Il Cancello to visit the underground water tank, Il Cisternone. This is one of three ancient Roman water tanks that can be visited, it was built in 1BC and has the original waterproofing still on the walls. It was really muggy down there but was cool to see what used to provide water to the area. That was our last stop before the train home to Rome!
I really enjoyed the field study for the most part, at points it was a little dry/boring, sometimes it was difficult to pay attention because a guide would speak in Italian and our professor would translate so everything took twice as long and some times things would get lost in translation (or I would forget to tune back in for English). Overall it was a very tiring yet enjoyable field study!