Friday, June 25, 2004

Too stuffed to come up with a catchy title

Hi all. It has been a WAY long day plus I ate WAY too much at both lunch and dinner, but I'll try my best. We left at 7:30 on the nice bus to go to see a bunch of sites in the area of the Latins. The Latins were here before the Romans and basically the Romans took over the Latins, but it's kind of a long and complicated story that even I need to think about before I sort it out, and I can't right now... So we started in Ardea, the land of Turnus. Turnus is a guy from the Aeneid who was betrothed to Lavinia before Aeneas came and married her so of course they battled and Aeneas won. For those of you who are confused, Aeneas escaped from Troy and went West to Italy and is considered the forefather of the Roman people, but that's pretty simplified. He has a bit part in the movie in the very end... Anyhoo....the superintendent of archaeology in Ardea took us on a tour of two sights, one is a forum/temple and one is a villa by the sea, and both of them aren't open to you normal people, only us AAR folks can go in. The dates are starting to mesh and I don't have my notes, but I believe both date to the 4th century BC. Then we went to Lavinium, which Aeneas named after Lavinia after he 'won' her and we visited two very cool things: 1. the heroon, which is a monument to the supposed burial site of Aeneas (which is not there and is most likely legend anyway), and 2. a sanctuary with 12 altars where they think that each of the members of the Latin League (2) held animal sacrifices. Of course, pretty much everything we study is conjecture, but it's still cool to look at. Next we went to the land of Alba Longa (2) which is where Aeneas' son, Ascanius set up a town and we visited Lake Nemi and saw a bunch of stuff, and by then it was 2:00 and we hadn't yet stopped for either a food or bathroom break so I'm kind of fuzzy on the details of that. But finally at 2:30 they let us eat and so I decided to follow the professors, because it seemed like a good idea, and it was. I had an awesome lunch of gnocchi in a 4-cheese sauce that was like alfredo but better than any alfredo I ever had, and the waiter was this old guy who was just awesome - he kept pointing his index finger to his cheek and twisting it which is the Italian gesture for something like 'it's very very good, no?' But we were supposed to meet back at the bus for 3 and my pasta was delivered at about 7 to. And of course when I requested the check, he said, 'conto??? no! mangiare!!!', basically telling me to relax, eat, worry later. Luckily, as I said, I had followed the professors who still hadn't gotten their meal at 3, so I wasn't too worried! I rushed through my gnocchi and then, after paying, the waiter came over with a huge shot of Limoncello for me, saying in Italian that it was from the professors who I think felt bad for 1. being late, 2. making me late with them, and 3. making me rush through my lunch (Limoncello is known for its digestive properties.) It was fun. But I did make it out before them and met the rest of the group who were pretty annoyed but were getting over it by sitting on some stairs on the street and passing a bottle of wine that someone had bought in town. And wait, there's more... Then we went to Tusculum, land of Cicero, where we met the director of excavations and he took us on a two-hour tour of his work which was quite interesting but the best was the view, as we overlooked pretty much all of Latium (Lazio) including the pope's summer home, Castel di Gandolfo. We finally headed back to Rome and were ten minutes late for dinner, so it was a really long day again! But dinner was spinach risotto that was amazing, and shrimp sauteed in white wine that you had to peel and no one at my table was eating theirs so I had tons because it was like New Orleans food. I probably could have eaten more, but then we had this coconut dessert that I don't know what it was, but it was tasty and I'm so tired that I'm sure this is babbling by now so Good Night All.
p.s. last night, ''Veni, Vidi, Vici'' the hot water situation. A lot of the 'younger' crowd went out looking for Brad Pitt and George Clooney who are apparently here shooting Ocean's 12, so I saw it as my chance for a hot shower and I was in there with hot water for like almost 20 minutes!!! YAY!!!

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