Thursday, July 01, 2004

Canada Day

One of the guys in The Program is Canadian and we have been singing 'O Canada' all day in that exhaustion-induced silliness that only a bunch of classicists can really aspire to. We also went to a place called Alba Fucens (pronounced Foo-kens) and there were a lot of jokes involving 'fucens' e.g. 'There's the Fucens Bar, the best Fucens bar in town!' but that was the end of the day and I'm not even at the beginning yet. We got on the good bus at 8:15 and left for Horace's Villa. That is an interesting site for several reasons, the main one being that they have no real proof that Horace (famous Roman poet who coined 'Carpe Diem') ever lived there. But they really want it to be true, and thus you have Horace's Villa. It sits on a high hill (more uphill walking, yay!) in the Sabine Hills and the view was incredible. One very unique thing there is the remains of a large oval sauna. Also the American Academy has been running the excavations there for the past 50 years or so so it's one of 'our' sites. Next we went to Vico Varo, which meant nothing to me until we got there and (surprise) they took us INTO the Aqua Claudia. Yes, I was walking IN an aqueduct that was built in 51 A.D. It pushed water over 90 kilometers to Rome (don't know the mileage...) It was very cool, although a strenous hike down into the aqueduct and, of course, back up. But inside you could see the water line and the calcification deposits of the water and the slice marks from where slaves used to have to cut the calcium deposits off. It was pretty awesome, and worth the very difficult hike. Kudos to Chris for making me bring a flashlight, by the way. It has come in handy on more than one occasion, but especially today! Ditto the first aid kit (we had one casualty on the wasn't me!) Next (you'd think that was an all-day journey itself, wouldn't you?), we went to Alba Fucens which I already mentioned. Alba Fucens was colonized by Rome in 303 B.C. as a 'typical' Roman town, so we learn a lot about Rome from the ruins that are in such places as this. They broke us into groups and gave us sections of the excavations to explore, interpret, and present to each other. We had 30 minutes to do so. It was interesting. I had no idea what one of my sections was, although I knew there was some kind of shrine involved (it was a cattle market with a shrine to Hercules), but I definitely did know the other one, which was a bath area, including the caldarium (hot room) with hypocause (furnace) system, tepidarium (warm room) and frididarium (cold room) built on an east/west axis to utilize the heat from the sun, and built out of brick which was their main 'waterproof' building material. Other things we saw explained by other groups included: shops, a bar, another bath area, the house of the head government official, a meat market, and I'm sure there's more, but we also hiked over to the amphitheater. We were about two hours from home at this point and it was 6:00 and our dinner time is 7:30 so Myles had to call Franco who was not pleased. But when we got home, they fed us and this was my first post-dinner stop. I could really use a shower now, since I am my usual sweaty dirty self after the strenuous day. Tomorrow will be very's Fulbright Day, and we Fulbrighters are being excused from The Program to attend a morning program at the Hotel Ergife including lunch, and at 8:00, dinner at the Hotel Minerva. Both, I understand, are rather swanky. Finally they realize who they're dealing with!!! I shouldn't have to walk anywhere tomorrow, and they're giving me all kinds of money! Hooray! Ciao!

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