Today (our last full day in Italy) we visited two different sites outside the city of Rome. The first was Hadrian's Villa. Hadrian was emperor from 117-138 CE. Calling this place a villa is like calling a mansion a little shack. It is HUGE. It is the size of a small city and completely self-sustaining. Some of the notable things inside it are a gigantic mysterious pool (Olympic size) and Hadrian’s own private island that he had constructed on his man made lake for his “me time.”

The next site we visited was the Villa d’Este. This site was built by the Cardinal Ippolito d’Este in the 16th century and required the redirection of a tributary of the Tiber River to power its many large fountains. One of these spectacular fountains was a self-playing organ that was completely powered and played by water. Overall, the site not only provided many striking views but also a peaceful journey through its numerous paths. More than a full hour was given to explore the entirety of the garden whic…
We first visited St. Peter’s Basilica in St. Peter’s Plaza. In the center of the plaza is an obelisk, also known as “The Witness” because it “witnessed” the crucifixion of St. Peter himself. There are multiple fountains inside the plaza that light up at night. Aside from the obelisk and the actual Basilica, there are two semicircular structures that form an embrace around the obelisk, created by our favorite sculptor, Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The Basilica is also guarded by Swiss guards, whose uniform consists of colorfully striped parachute pants. 

Within the Basilica, we saw sculptures of multiple figures, including Bernini’s best friend, Christina, queen of Sweden, who left her throne to convert to Catholicism and was never married. In the basement of St. Peter’s there is a crypt built to hold the remains of former religious figures, which includes former popes. It has been referred to as “The City of the Dead”. 
Afterwards we visited Hadrian’s Mausoleum, which was built for Hadrian by …

Today was a bright, cheerful, and jam-packed day! First, we went to the Ara Pacis Museum. Outside of the museum is  the Res Gestae (Things Done by Augustus) and Augustus’s mausoleum. We read some of the Res Gestae and discussed Ausgustus’s mentality, ego, and beliefs. The Ara Pacis (Altar of Peace) was built during Augustus’s rule. People would come here to worship the Augustan peace, peace that occurred during his reign. The panels mainly depict the founding narratives of Rome, and the peace that they brought about. 

Next, we went to San Luigi dei Francesi, a French church in the Campus Martius (the field of Mars). This church is famous for its Caravaggio paintings, depicting the life of Saint Matthew in the Chiaroscuro style. The church’s baroque style is clearly demonstrated through the ornate gold decorations that adorn the ceilings and walls. 
Following our visit to the Church, we walked to the Piazza Navona, which used to be a stadium, to see the Fountain of the Four Rivers, desig…
Our first stop of the day was the Via Appia (Appian Way) which we arrived at by bus. We first went to the villa of Maxentius that had a giant circus which is home to the best preserved spina in the Roman world. They held chariot racing in this circus. We all sat down to read a section of Ovid’s Ars Amatoria. Ovid explained how he believed that meeting a woman to the chariot races at the circus would be a good idea for a date. This poem was considered scandalous and many people think that this poem is part of what made Augustus banish Ovid from Rome. 
On our way out, we encountered a very cute cat but we simply watched him from afar.  We then went to the tomb of Cecilia Metella which was giant. Our main event at the tomb was wandering around to see all of the sculptures there. Afterwards we all walked along the ancient road that is the Appian Way. We stopped briefly to read a selection from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage by Lord Byron, the ultimate “bad boy” of the romantic era. Then we were …
Monday: Palatine Hill and the Colosseum
Our first day in Rome was a busy one to say the least. We were up and on the road early with our first taste of Italian public transportation, going on both a railroad and a subway train. After our transit we headed to the Palatine Hill, where we viewed some of the ruins of Augustus’s house, while learning a little bit about his persona. We stopped along the way to read and translate the ancient Latin story of Romulus and Remus. Next we headed to the Roman forum to look at more ruins, and a few of us, including Ms. Durham, got to catch up with BC alumni Hannah Berman who happened to be in Rome on vacation. We also read part of Antony’s Funeral Oration written by Shakespeare.

The afternoon was also filled with exploration. We visited the Colosseum and talked about what occurred in it and how Roman entertainment compares to modern entertainment. Before dinner we had some free time, where most of us went to grab some delicious gelato and explored the…
It’s been a full first day in Rome: Palatine Hill. The Colosseum. Gelato, gelato, gelato!
The day ended with the group sprinting through rain and wind back to the hotel. Everyone’s exhausted and we have a packed day ahead, so Ben and Seta will give you the complete run down later this week. Until then, some pictures!

We started our day with another plentiful breakfast with great views of the ruins of Pompeii. After this we took a bus to another town that was destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius. However what’s different about Herculaneum, is that it was buried under sixty feet of rock. Simply put, the view of Herculaneum was breathtaking. The town was placed on a steep hill and the walls of concrete surrounding it gave a very interesting perspective to how deeply covered  Herculaneum was.
After the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE, Herculaneum was covered in mud at first, as opposed to the ash in Pompeii. This preserved an amazing amount. Archeologists have discovered carbonized wooden beams and even food. Although Pompeii is more well known, Herculaneum is equally as important because of these finds. 
In Herculaneum, we looked into the House of the Deer. Because of the way that the city was preserved, we saw just how the house was when it was lived in. In the colonnades, there were beautiful frescoes…