Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Friends and enemies: Cosa and Veii

Today we had an all-day field trip on the good bus to two different archaeological sites, the first, an enemy of Rome, Veii, and the second, a Roman colony, Cosa. Veii was a bit disappointing because we only stopped to look at the remains of a temple there, but they (i.e. Italian government people in charge of archaeology) had rebuilt the temple out of rebar (am I spelling that right?) which really was a bit tacky and bothersome. But the story is that the Romans, in trying to conquer Veii, made their way through cunicula, or drainage tunnels and popped up in the middle of the temple, catching the Veiians by surprise and thus gaining control of Italy. That's only a story in Livy, probably not what actually happened, but I went in those drainage tunnels so that I could say I did...it was dark, buggy, cobwebby and overall scary. But fun in that dorky classics major way (we all did it...) Anyway... then the good bus took us 2 1/2 hours further to Cosa, which was founded as a Roman colony in the 2nd century B.C. It's on the shore so we started by stopping at a nice beach for a swim and our picnic lunches. I grabbed some leftover meat from last night's cena and made a sandwich to bring along with my cookies from Giolitti's, a banana, and the ubiquitous cheese puffs. It was very fun...the girls all changed on the bus since there was no bathroom, and we all enjoyed the mild waves and cool water. After we ate, we went up to the site. The latest of the site excavation directors, Lisa Fentress, gave us a tour of the site which has been excavated over the past 50 or so years under the directorship of the American Academy in Rome, so it's 'our' site. The bus wasn't allowed to go up the mountain which means we had to... That's about when I started thinking 1, we should have gone swimming AFTER the hike, and 2, god I wish I had actually gone to that gym I joined... It was a tough one but I survived although I remained hot and sweaty for the rest of the day. But the site was spectacular, with good ruins of temples, a forum, the comitium where the citizens had assemblies and voted, and even two houses with intact mosaic floors and one with a kitchen we could go into. Lisa's work is published in a book called Cosa V (as in five, not the letter V) and she said there's a website, so if you are interested, you could see more about it, although I haven't actually looked yet myself. It was worth the hike, plus we got a beautiful view of the sea. Then we drove the 2 1/2 hours back and got home in time for dinner: penne arrabiata, bistecca di maiale con piselli, e ananas al naturale. See if you can figure it out...it was excellent anyway. They can definitely cook at the Centro. I'm beat and headed off to a good night's rest. We have things all day tomorrow through Friday ('Fulbrighter's Day') so it's an exhausting week and I need to rest up!

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