Saturday, January 21, 2017

Arrivederci Italy!

Sadly, today was our last day in Italy. We spent our final day exploring Venice, specifically the San Marco Basilica and the Doge's Palace. 
The basilica is in the San Marco Piazza near the Adriatic sea. It was originally covered in brick until it burned down in the 9th century. As time passed, the building continually underwent changes as different imperial influences blended into its architecture and style. Beginning in the 12th century, Venice became a major trading port and naval power mostly due to its mutualistic relationship with the Byzantine empire in the East. The rich republic eventually grew more powerful than the Byzantine empire which led to their conquest of Constantinople in 1205. During the time of the crusades, people in the West used Venice as a taxi to the Middle East. When they came back, it was required for them to present a gift to Saint Mark. In this way, pillars, marble, and mosaics were added to the space over time. The large chandeliers displayed the Byzantine's influence, the cross shaped domes were a popular Greek model, and the stone window grilles match an Arab design. 
Until 1807, the San Marco basilica was a private chapel for the Doge's Palace. The Palace was founded in the 9th century. The Palace's halls were difficult to navigate. (It was a maze inside the Venice Maze!) We saw a grand council chamber, the council of ten room, a prison cell, another prison cell and another one...(I am pretty sure we were walking in circles at this point). In each room, excluding the prison cells of course, the walls and ceilings were covered in beautiful paintings. Many of them depicted battle scenes to carry the theme of victory throughout the palace. Like the basilica, we found many different architecture and design styles at the Palace, including the gothic pointed arches and the Roman pink marble.
Once we finally found our way out, some of the group rode a water taxi to Murano. The island of Murano is well known for glass making. We curiously watched a master glass maker demonstrate the blowing technique and the molding technique. The glass, which started as a powder, turned into a moldable substance after 8 hours in 1207 degree temperatures. The master collected some glass on the end of a hollow iron rod. Then, he alternated between blowing through the rod and using tools to manipulate the glass. In the molding technique, he only used his tools. He quickly worked on the piece for about 2 minutes before the glass became to cold to mold, so he placed it back into the oven to reheat. It was captivating to watch him stretch, bend, mold and connect pieces of glass together. We were BLOWN away by the result, a unicorn and a vase! 
Afterwards, we wandered around 17 show rooms with large and magnificent glass pieces costing anywhere from 20 to 50,000 euros! We continued to walk around the rest of the island; everyone had some free time to get their gift shopping done and enjoy one last scoop of gelato! 
As our train quickly approaches Milan, the fact that we are leaving Italy tomorrow becomes more of a reality. I know I can speak for everyone when I say this course has been an experience of a lifetime. 

Wish us safe travels! We are looking forward to sleep and free water! 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Another bucket of pictures

Alyssa improvises a writing desk in the Coliseum

S-T spots a gladiator

V for Victory at a triumphal arch.

We rock the temple of the Vestial Virgins

Garibaldi is an imposing figure on the Janiculum,

whom we've grown to love.

Michela introduces us to the Roman Jewish Quarter 

We like her a lot.

Guess who's under the hat.

I spot Bailee and Mara in the vast transept of St. Peter's

Bing finally finds a comfortable place to sit.

Julia finally takes a picture of the photographer

Bucket of Pictures

We are welcomed to the Royal Palace of Naples

This makes Erin's head duplicate itself.

Lynn loves her a baptistery, especially a very old
one like this at the Naples Duomo

Lousia and Kylee ponder...

then note.

Erin and Mary have found something interest in a secret cabinet

"Are those my pant? Could you hand those to me?"

It was cold at Pompeii

Isabel wishes Vesuvius would send a stream of hot lava through the city once again.

Now THIS is what Erin looks like when she's sad.

Our Last Day In VenICE

Today we got an early start to our day at 7:40 (ouch) and began our hour and a half drive to the city of Aquileia. Aquileia was an ancient Roman colony and once served as a port city. Our first stop was the Basilica of Aquileia. The structure was built starting in the 4th century but wasn't completed until the 11th century. The basilica had a multitude of influences including Roman and Gothic architecture, which was not surprising given how long it was under construction. When we first arrived in the basilica, we were given free time to explore the space and formulate questions and eventually a hypothesis about how the space was used and what its purpose might have been. 

The mosaics covering the floor were very similar to the Roman Villa we visited while in Sicily, which made it hard to tell if the space was Christian or simply Roman. After a group discussion, we realized the basilica was an assertion of identity with subtle Christian symbolism and a range of other influences. This was different than other basilicas we had visited because it was a hybrid of identities as opposed to a blatant Christian space. The basilica was built right around Constantine's Edict of Milan, in 313 AD, which was early enough that there was little distinction between Roman and Christian spaces. It was one of the earliest purpose built Christian spaces that we know about. 

We then visited the basilica's baptistery, which was at the same location but in a different building because at this time people were not officially members of the church until they were baptized. The baptistery was a six sided structure. Six is an important number within Christianity, and there are numerous theories as to why it had six sides including God's creation of the world in six days or that it could symbolize two trinities (2x3=6). Another interesting observation about the baptistery was that it held aspects from many religions because it was built before Catholic domination in the region. 

On our way to our next stop, we walked through the ancient port, and then we ended up at the National Archeological Museum. We were given free time to explore the museum, which housed varying sculptures. We were able to see funerary elements, examples of common men and women's clothing, and traditional military attire as well as ancient jewels and ceramics. 

We then took a much needed break for our last ( :( ) group lunch. We had an amazing three course meal, including pasta full of carbs and cheese, a meat dish, and dessert. Not only was it an escape from the cold, but we were also able to enjoy great conversation. 

Our last activity of the day was a visit to what Mike refers to as the "Fascist Mountain", which serves as a World War I monument. The monument was commissioned by Mussolini in 1929. It was meant to commemorate the lost lives of WWI and took ten years to complete. It is a pyramid-like structure that looks like a staircase where each stair is about ten feet high. Names of 40,000 Italian soldiers were listed in alphabetical order on the structure, and remains of another 60,000 unknown soldiers were located at the top of the monument in two tombs. 

As we made our way up Fascist Mountain, we made a similar trek as the soldiers would have taken while fighting during WWI. Right away the monument was different than others that we have visited because we not only got to see the structure, but we also got to walk up the mountain and interacted with the monument. At the top of the monument, we had a beautiful view of Italy. The monument matched the typical fascist style with a simple linear structure, which housed a chapel at the top, only visible after ascending the mountain. 

The names on the structure were below the word "presente" which mimics the soldiers performing roll call, highlighting how the soldiers listed went above and beyond their duty. Adding the names made the monument more powerful and emotional by adding a personal touch and allowing visitors a possible personal connection to the monument. This made us all consider how each name listed was made equal and gave the monument a sense of unity. We also speculated that each name listed gave Italians a sense of pride that the people before them had sacrificed for their nation. 

Despite the early wake up call, we had a wonderful second day in Venice. We're all excited to travel to Milan tomorrow but a little less excited for the trip home on Sunday.

Kelsey and Vanessa 

Thursday, January 19, 2017


Today, we left the Eternal City and made our way to Venice. Once we arrived, we were given a choice to go see the Jewish ghetto or to explore Venice on our own. 

Those of us who went to the ghetto got to take a tour of the five synagogues that are in the three different parts of the ghetto. We saw the differences between the Ashkenazi and the Sephardic synagogues and also learned the history of the ghetto itself. The word "ghetto" comes from the Venetian word "getto" which means foundry, as the first ghetto was placed on the site of a former foundry in Venice.  However, the original Jews could not pronounce "getto" correctly, and instead said "ghetto". The two Sephardic synagogues were a lot larger and more extravagant than the Ashkenazi ones, as the Sephardic Jews were wealthier and were willing to pay more in order to have marble in their synagogue, which was outlawed by the Church. It was really interesting to see the differences between the two different sects of Judaism. In addition to the different decor, all of the synagogues had separate areas for the women, as these were Orthodox synagogues, where men and women do not sit side by side. 

Those of us who choose to not go to the ghetto wandered around exploring Venice and many of us shopped for leather, Murano glass and Venetian masks! We are excited to explore more tomorrow! 


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Our Unshaken Day at the Vatican

          Today we spent our second day in Rome exploring the Vatican, over and under (literally)! Although our day remained unshaken, parts of Rome were hit by multiple earthquakes, ranking up to 5.9 magnitudes, around 10:30 am, ending around 2 pm. We were fortunate to be unaffected and hope the rest of Rome shared our luck. Beginning our day by catching the bus, we first traveled to the mausoleum of Hadrian, a Roman emperor, before going into the city-state of Vatican City. Also known as Castel Sant'Angelo, the mausoleum of the ancient emperor once served as a fortress of defense, repurposed by the popes, and today it is more of a castle. Supposedly, there is a secret passageway within this structure that leads to underneath St. Peter's Square--unfortunately, we were not granted access. We took the stairs up to the top of the Mausoleum and were offered an amazing view of Rome. After some free time to explore for ourselves, we met back up and headed straight for the main event: the Vatican City.
          Arriving in the middle of St. Peter's Square was breathtaking. The colonnade that surrounds it shows 140 saints all facing the obelisk, or the vertical structure in the center. From a historical standpoint, we learned that there was once a circus held in this very square, not the kind that we are familiar with, but a horse race. Many architects, over time, came in to assist with the construction and design; one being the famous Michelangelo who created the dome structure. The shape and architecture of the square is very important to the welcoming aspect to pilgrims and visitors worldwide. The shape conveys open arms, almost beckoning brothers and sisters to come forth and symbolizes that they are indeed, home. The space's structure is more important than one may think in the way it gives off a friendly and welcoming presence. St. Peter's Basilica holds around 60,000 people and is one of the largest churches in the world. After congregating in the square to discuss the logistics of the day, we were set free to explore on our own and get a feel for this marvel.
          Inside, there were various important relics of Christianity, such as the towel that Jesus wiped his sweaty brow on and the tombs of multiple popes. We also got to see Michelangelo's pieta, a famous statue of Mary holding Jesus after he is taken down from the cross. The ceiling was breathtaking and many of us touched the foot of the statue of Peter, a symbol of reaching the final destination or the end of your pilgrimage. Although it was crowded with people from different nations all around, you could somehow feel the presence of a uniting force under the sunshine and domed ceiling today in the basilica.
          After a quick lunch break, we headed towards the Vatican necropolis. This is an ancient cemetery that lies underneath the vatican. It is only accessible by an exclusive tour that we were lucky enough to take part in. Necropolis literally translates to city of death, or cemetery. This sector underground was buried by Emperor Constantine I when he wished to construct a basilica. While underground, we were able to view multiple family tombs and ancient Roman roads. We ducked through carved out doorways and braved the artificial humidity they create to help preserve the site. One of the biggest controversies surrounding this part of the Vatican is the argument over the location of St. Peter's bones. Peter was, according to tradition, buried here originally, however his casket was destroyed and his bones were moved at a later time. According to our tour guide, he was reburied here, however there is no way of knowing the truth that lies behind this theory. As our professor Lynn taught us, faith is a great thing and powerful enough to put belief in something even when there is no evidential proof. It is what holds this theory so firmly and keeps the tradition (and tours) alive and convincing.
          Today was an incredible day that not even an earthquake could interrupt. We are glad that we made it to and from these holy sites unscathed and are ready for our departure to Venezia, bright and early, tomorrow!

Mara Walters

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Just Rome-ing Around

We started out the day by taking a bus and then walking to the Janiculum Hill. We saw multiple monuments, including one of Garibaldi and one of his wife, Anita. Anita taught Garibaldi how to fight and gave him his first Red Shirt. On this hill, Anita and Garibaldi fought in a siege against the papacy. Garibaldi lost the siege, but they brokered a treaty in which Garibaldi was forced to leave Rome. In the late 1890s, Italy was trying to invent itself, so the country commemorated Garibaldi through the monument as a gesture of appreciation for him fighting for the Italian people. This statue shows the curated connection between Ancient Rome and modern-day Rome through the use of the image of Romulus and Remus. In 1920, the papacy decided that they didn't like the statue to Garibaldi and asked Mussolini, ruler at the time, to take it down. However, he said no and chose to also build a statue to his wife, Anita. We discussed how the baby in Anita's arms represents Italy and her carrying Italy through the war. Both of these statues illustrate what Garibaldi and Anita did for Italy and how Italy wants us to view their history. In addition, the hill provided amazing views of the city!
Later, we went to Santa Maria. It was built during the 3rd century and is one of the oldest churches in Rome. The main rebuild in the 13th century was under Pope Innocent II because the anti-pope, who insulted Roger II of Sicily, was buried there and he wanted to erase all memories of him. The portico of the church has become a site of Early Christian sarcophagi that were taken from catacombs. The mosaic in the church depicts a betrothal scene in which Mary represents the church. Jesus is sitting next to Mary and holding a book that says to come and sit on his throne. In this way, the mosaic was like a love story between the church and Christ.
We had the amazing opportunity of walking through the most ancient Jewish community with our guide and former resident, Micaela. The pope, who created laws to control the Jews, gave them this land because it was prone to flooding. Early Christians believed that the only way for Jews to save themselves was to convert to Christianity, which is also why there are churches on every corner of the ghetto. Few people converted and there was distrust between the Jews and the Christians. The area was extremely crowded - 9000 people were squeezed into two blocks of land. Micaela walked us through the history of Jews in Rome, including personal stories from members of the community and her family. The Jewish quarter was so fascinating and we are so thankful Micaela shared her experiences and knowledge with us.


Monday, January 16, 2017

When in Rome...

Although our trip to Rome started later than planned because of bus delays, it turned out to be an eventful day once it got going. After our three hour bus ride, we arrived at the hotel in Rome. After we checked in, we began our tour of the capital of the world.

The first stop was the Colosseum, a Flavian amphitheater capable of holding up to 55,000 people, which was built between 72 - 80 CE by the Flavian Dynasty next to Nero's Palace as a testament to his greed. The reason why this amphitheater has remained in such good condition is because of its multitude of arches which signify triumph and help keep the building sturdy. The Colosseum had many functions including entertainment as a part of the patron-client system, political value, and creating a sense of community. Additionally, the games were a way for politicians to gain votes and get public recognition. The games were also a demonstration of Rome's ability to conquer others. Perhaps most importantly, the Colosseum served as a means by which social hierarchies were established. For example, royalties and Vestal Virgins had the privilege of sitting in the bottom seats while those lower down on the social class had seats near the top.

In regard to the games held in the Colosseum, the first half of the day was typically reserved for animals fighting other animals with the occasional gladiator on animal fight. The middle part of the day incorporated the audience by having drawings for door prizes, songs, shows, and executions. The afternoon was reserved for gladiator battles and was the part of the day that everyone looked forward to. Gladiators tended to be outcasts or slaves and were forced to fight for their freedom. Gladiator battles taught moral values by demonstrating the nobility of death and the gladiators lack of fear of death. Although everyone loved to watch the fights, the emperors sometimes limited the amount of gladiator paris to avoid being ostentatious and demonstrating a lack of virtue.

Next we walked through the Arch of Titus to enter the ancient Roman forum. The forum was originally swamp land, but it was drained by the Etruscans in the 7th century BC with the intent of using the space as a market place. This atypical forum boasts of two basilicas along with the House of Vestal Virgins, which is an ancient religious cult central to the identity of Rome as a republic and an empire. Girls were brought into the cult as early as the age of 12, upon which they were seen as women. Members of the cult could supposedly feel when Rome was threatened, which is why they were viewed as so important. These women remained priestesses for thirty years, during which they were required to retain their virginity upon threat of being buried alive. Next to the House of Vestal Virgins was a temple to the goddess Vesta, who symbolized the hearth and the home. The Romans viewed the home and family values as central to the foundation of the empire.

Next Lynn showed us one of her favorite spots, the cloaca maximum. (Fun fact, cloaca means bird poop hole.) This was not only used for a sewage, but also to divert the water of the marsh land into the Tiber River. Romans valued water systems because they saw them as a way to control nature, so they outlined the cloaca maximum with marble in order to show its importance.

We wrapped up our tour of the forum by observing the Temple of Concord and Temple of Saturn, which are the two oldest temples in the forum. We also took a look at the curia, which was built in 44 BCE and served as one of three center buildings in Rome along with the Senate building. Since then, the curia has undergone several renovations and has been kept as a church. Inside of the curia there is an image of Emperor Tiberius forgiving people who have to pay off their debts.

Our last stop of the day was the monument to King Victor Emanuel, also known as the Victorian and the "altar of the nation". Started in the 1890's and finished in the 1920's, this massive monument was designed to give Italians a sense of unity. Complete with a 50 ton statue of King Emanuel riding his horse to meet Garibaldi to get the key to the city, the monument also includes four statues of women on top of the building which are meant to depict the four different regions of the Italian state. There is a fountain located on each side of the monument which symbolizes the two seas that surround Italy, the Mediterranean and the Adriatic.

Overall, we had a great day, and we can't wait to see what else Rome has in store for us.

- Bailee & Zach

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Our Rainy Day in Pompeii

Today was the day we journeyed back to 79 CE, when we visited the ancient preserved city of Pompeii. When Mount Vesuvius erupted, Pompeii was buried in 25 meters of ash, becoming a city frozen in time, until early excavations during the reign of King Charles of the Bourbon Dynasty led to its rediscovery.

As we trudged up the steep hill to the entrance of the city, we walked on large cobblestones wet from the rain, admiring the many sites where homes once stood and families once lived. Pompeii originated as a port city, with close trade relations with many lucrative civilizations, such as the Greeks, Phoenicians, and Romans. The city attracted wealthy tourists even then, and much like the city of Naples we are staying in now, Pompeii was a very large, urban area. The population ranged between 11,000 and 12,000, but somewhat unfortunately, we only saw two petrified bodies today.

The city was founded by the Oscans but in the 5th century BCE was captured by the Samnites. The Samnites had a complicated relationship with Rome and ultimately revolted against Rome in the year 80 BCE, and after their failure became a part of the Roman Empire. From that point on, there was a period of “Romanization” in Pompeii, which is evident in the forum in the center of the city that reflects the styles of their Roman counterparts.

In 62 CE, an earthquake rocked the city, prompting renovations that were never finished because, in 79 CE, Mount Vesuvius erupted and stopped the developing city in its tracks. Over many years since its discovery, patrons have attempted to renovate the city without using proper tools and processes, and after years of this kind of mismanagement and misallocation of funding, the ruins fell into a state of disrepair in the early 21st century. A recent surge in funding from UNESCO has stimulated proper restoration of the ruins. Today we saw many projects that were still developing, and it looks like the city is on its way to recapturing some of its former glory. The city was remarkably intact, and walking through the streets left us with an undeniable nostalgia and eerie sense that the city was still alive.  

First, we saw the Temple of Apollo, which was built in the 2nd century BCE, and was a hybrid of Greek and Roman architectural styles. Outside of the temple would have been the standard for weights and measures, alongside a smaller altar used for grain and incense sacrifices for the gods. In the center, the cella could still be identified, which would have been the room containing Apollo’s statue and the city treasury.  

Next, we toured the city’s basilica, which would have been a two-story building that regulated government affairs and was most likely bordered by other government buildings. It was surrounded by columns that mixed the Greek Ionic and Corinthian styles and was filled with large cult statues.

Afterwards, we meandered through the forum, which contained the Temple of Jupiter, an important feature of religious life in the city. Also within the forum was a statue to commemorate Eumachia, the patron of the Guild of the Fullers, which would have been similar to a worker’s union for artisans who tanned hides. Eumachia gives us insight into the role of women in the city, some of whom were independently wealthy.

Another feature within the forum was the Acanthus, which was an ornate sort of door frame that showed different scenes from nature all tied together with images of leaves. This was a standard motif in Augustan era art and was a way for the people of Pompeii to show their allegiance to and love for the Emperor Augustus (today, we would just put an “I <3 Augustus” bumper sticker on the back of our cars).

We also visited many smaller homes and the marketplace, which served as the center of city activity and featured common styles of frescoes on the walls that could also be seen in large urban homes. Historians have decided that Pompeii had three dominant styles of art with three different purposes: to replicate different types of architecture, to create visual illusions, and to decorate homes and public areas.

Beyond the necropolis at the edge of the city, we entered the more suburban section of Pompeii and toured the “Villa dei Misteri”, whose owner is debated, but is speculated to have been a freed slave. The room that gives this Villa its name is the triclinium, which is believed to have been the private dining room of the family. The wall features a large fresco, immaculately preserved and depicting the initiation process into the cult of Dionysus. The cult of Dionysus was considered a “mystery religion” because it cannot be understood until you are formally initiated into it. Mystery religions were criticized for being primarily associated with women, as well as for their foreign and secretive nature. There were many mystery religions during this time, one of which was an early form of Christianity.

Our final stop was one of an estimated 30 city brothels, which was treated slightly differently in Pompeii’s society than it would be now, as prostitution was a taxed, legitimized form of work, often performed by slaves or other poor citizens. Men were nearly expected to visit the brothel, though not excessively, but the stigma around the prostitutes themselves still remained. Many of the erotic frescoes we saw in yesterday’s museum were found in these brothels.

After touring this ancient city in rainy, cold weather, we were eager to return to the warmth of our hotel rooms, but were side(train)tracked (ha, PUNpeii) when our train did not arrive and we were forced to wait in freezing rain and wind for another train to safely deliver us through the metro system, back to Via Toledo.

Even though the weather was miserably cold (and Mike had no sympathy for us (and Erin cried a little)), touring these ancient ruins warmed our hearts and minds with knowledge.

Peace, love, and Pompeii,

Mary and Erin

P.S. Tomorrow, we will finally be able to appropriately use the phrase “when in Rome” on our Instagram captions! 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Marble, Mosaics, and Metros

With nearly a week left, our excursion into the mainland of Italy began. Naples is a distinctly different metropolitan area from Syracuse and the rest of Sicily; however, it has its own merits. Over the course of the day, we were able to see the local castle, the Palazzo Royale, the Duomo of Naples, and explore the National Museum of Archaeology.

Both the military purposes of the castle and the ornate decoration of the palace, among other attributes, helped us compare and contrast the two buildings to better understand their respective roles within the community of Naples. We followed their creation and how their succession of leaders are communicated through the design and purpose. Displayed within the palace was an elaborate nativity scene comprised of detailed figurines. Today, Naples is famous for similarly designed figurines.

Our first ride on the metro went smoothly, and we made our way to the Duomo. Once a temple to a Greek deity (Athena??), it was later converted into a breathtaking example of a Baroque-style cathedral dedicated to Saint Gennaro. We were able to see one of the earliest European baptisteries (created in the 5th century) and noted its symbolic depictions of Biblical figures and its proximity to the street, which may have been designed to increase the access to conversion for those in the area.

After a two-hour window of lunch/shopping/free time, we reconvened at the National Archaeological Museum. Although we are visiting the site of Pompeii tomorrow, many of the artifacts and marble sculptures from the city were collected in the 1600s and eventually fell to the ownership of Charles III until they went to the museum. One of the most complex Pompeiian mosaics is hypothesized to be modelled off a Hellenic painting of Alexander the Great’s battle with Darius of Persia, and with over a million tiny tiles, the product certainly succeeded in captivating the scene’s intricacies.

Another of the museum’s interesting exhibits was once known as the “Secret Room” as a nod to the exhibit’s shadowed past and previous exclusion from the public sector. With a collection of phallic and erotic images, sculptures, and objects, the social climate of the time period in which it was discovered was strongly opposed to public understanding of the realities that permeated ancient life.

One of the last wings of the museum we explored together was a collection of marble sculptures, once owned by the Farnese family and previously adorning the public baths of Greece. These sculptures featured certain figures and stories from Greek mythology, and our art history students helped explain the contexts of the statue of Hercules, the sculpture of the myth of Dirce, and the anatomically proportionate Doriforus man.

After an hour of personal exploration at the museum, we boarded the metro and returned to the area adjacent to our hotel for the evening. We’re looking forward to Pompeii and to the remainder of the course!



Friday, January 13, 2017

Neopolitans... Long Live Italy!

(Title quoted from the speech Giuseppe Garibaldi gave on September 7th on his first entry to Naples after capturing the capital city)
This morning we woke up to another sunrise over the Mediterranean. We packed, ate breakfast, and said goodbye to our oceanside hotel and Siracusa, which had given us so much during our stay. We ate lunch at the airport, our last opportunity for Sicilian delicacies like arancini. We also talked to a nice woman on the plane who told us that Turkey had some excellent sites for what we were studying. At this point ma'am, we're well aware. The flight to Naples was short, though very bumpy. But we've finally made it to mainland Italy!
Naples is a far bigger and busier city than any we saw in Sicily. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies and spent many of its modern formative years under Spanish rule, later becoming the site where Garibaldi's volunteer army joined with the Piedmontese army from the north of Italy during the campaign for Unification in 1860. Once we got to the hotel, we had the rest of the evening off, for catching up on coursework, shopping, and what-have-you. Since today was mostly dedicated to travelling and recovering from the full-tilt we've been tackling this course at up until this point, there aren't a whole lot of events to talk about in this post. So it's probably time to reflect on our time in Sicily.
Sicily was very kind to us during our time there. We may not have had the sunny warm weather of previous years, but driving through mountains and arriving at gorgeous oceanside views was better than I think any of us were prepared for. The confluence of cultures from all of its previous rulers still shapes modern Sicily, and it certainly shaped how we saw it, whether through a religious, historic, or modern lens. As you explored the cities, you couldn't help but notice how many streets were named after previous rulers of those areas, and as you watched the highway signs go by while travelling, you noted that many of the town names are based off of Arabic words- many that start with the prefix 'calta' used to have arabic castles in them (from the arabic word aal-ah). Sicily served as an excellent starting place for our course, with its independence and calmer cities helping acclimate many of us to being in Italy. It will be very interesting to see how things change as we move closer to the center of power for both the ancient Roman Empire and the modern Italian state: Rome. For now, I'm excited to see what Naples and mainland Italy have in store for us.


Two days of pictures

Alex is getting his head together for our visit to the Villa Casale

A charming dog interrupts Lynn to tell us it's about to
start raining.  Dogs know.

The villa's bath complex shakes up our conceptions of what a bath is for...

which makes Alex wants a notebook that get be used while wet.

That would be the best!

Kelsey is willing to sacrifice scholarship to keep her notebook dry.

Alyssa watches the aqueduct try to deal with this rain. 

Looks like Avery is plotting something...

<GASP!> They're going to murder Amanda!

which amuses Mary.


Thank goodness, Amanda is alright.

Bailee is smitten with Roman mosaics

in fact we all are.

Junie thinks I can't see her behind the bottles.

The agritourismo luncheon has arrived.

This glass is more than half-full...of levity.

Full bellies make for happy people.

Bailee just told Mara to shut up and looks pleased with herself.

That's just adorable.

We enjoy hanging out in the lobby in Syracuse

Is Erin sad again?

Nope, don't worry.

We like our hotel in Syracuse.

Lynn explains the complex functions of Greek theater.

She has a lot to say....

Who is that strange figure on the hill?

Avery is in their element.

Bailee and Mara scamper around the theater.

Kylee likes it too.

Alex shows us where his seat would be if he were
an ancient Syracusian.

Amanda likes to press wildflowers.


Zach consoles a disappointed Junie who saw no bats or bears or ghosts
in the spooky cave.