The Institute at Palazzo Rucellai - Study Abroad in Florence, Italy
This web log documents the experiences of a few students currently studying at the Institute at Palazzo Rucellai. It is a by-the-students for-the-students account of their day-to-day experiences, the academic program, extra- and co-curricular activities and special events. By reading their accounts we hope you gain some insight about what it is like to be a student at Palazzo Rucellai, and find it to be interesting and enjoyable reading. Hope to see you in beautiful Florence!
ROMA! - February 28, 2010
On February 28th my Anicent Rome class took our field trip to Rome. Rome was amazing and I am completely in love with the city, although I’m glad I chose to study and live in Florence because Rome is so huge. I would to try and go back another weekend to visit more of the city and get to the Vatican, which I didn’t get to on this class field trip. Very early on Saturday morning we met at the train station and took the fast train to Rome. When we got there we checked into the hotel and headed straight to our first site visit, The Ara Pacis. The Ara Pacis, the Altar of Peace, was built during the age of Augustus, was used only once a year for performing sacrifices to the Roman Gods. The significance of the Ara Pacis is the decorative carvings on the short and long sides of the altar. They signify peace and safety during the time of Augustus. The procession of the long sides show members of Augustus’ family including Tiberius who would become Emperor after Augustus died in 14AD. The Ara Pacis is enclosed in a building that was designed by an American, Richard Meier.
After the Ara Pacis we broke for lunch and a couple of us walked to the Spanish Steps to take pictures before going to lunch. After lunch we walked through the streets of Rome on our way to the Pantheon. We saw remnants of Tempio Adriano which has been restored and turned into a bank. Around the corner stands The Pantheon in all of its glory. It really is an amazing site to see. The Pantheon is the best preserved building from Ancient Rome. It used to be a pagan temple which was later turned into a Catholic Church. It was originally built by Agrippa in 27 BC but after burning down twice, the Pantheon we see today was commissioned and restored by Hadrian in 120 AD. The oculus in the top of the dome is 9 meters in diameter and even though it looks small, a school bus could fit through it. The dome is the 4th largest in the world in and it was largest until Brunelleschi built the Duomo [here in Florence!].
After the Pantheon we walked backed to our hotel through Piazza Navona which used to be a stadium where they would hold chariot races, etc. The only remains of the stadium are of a single arch that was used as the entrance way. From 4 pm on we had the rest of the night to ourselves so a couple of friends and I decided to explore the streets of Rome. We ate dinner and walked around for a while. There happened to be a Rugby match in Rome the previous day against the Scotland so there were men dressed in kilts EVERYWHERE. We ran into and chatted with some Scottish people for a while, but we could barely understand them because of their accents. After Campo di Fuori we headed to the Fontana di Trevi. We hung out there for about an hour until we decided to make the walk back and get to bed because we had to be up early for the site visits the next day.
On Sunday morning we got up and were out of the hotel by 9am. We headed to Via del Fiori Imperiali which is where Mussolini built his fascist capitol building and covered up most of the Imperial Forum. The Imperial Forum is a continuation of the Roman Forum [which was built between the Palatine and Capitol hills] and it was a series of private squares built by five Ancient Roman Emperors: Caesar [who was in actuality not an Emperor], Augustus, Vespasian, Nerva, and Trajan. The Imperial Forum were built between 42 BC and 112 AD. The forum is a contiguous series of enclosed areas, each with a temple placed axially at the back and flanked by porticoes on each side. Part of the Imperial Forum was covered by the street when Mussolini decided that he wanted to connect his building directly to the Colosseum. What we saw that was left of the Forum was Trajan’s Forum, which was the biggest and most extensively excavated. It was built by Apollodorus of Damascus [who also built the Pantheon] and it had Trajan’s statue, two exedras, the Basilica Ulpia, two libraries on either side of Tranjan’s column and Trajan’s markets, which was the first mall in the world. We also saw the Forum of Augustus and the Forum of Caesar.
After the Imperial Forum we went to the Colosseum which was amazing to see. The Colosseum actually has an interesting history of why it was built. When Nero was Emperor, the city of Rome burned down in a huge fire in 64 AD and instead of rebuilding the city for the people, Nero built himself a huge GoldenPalace. Inside of the golden palace was a huge lake that Nero used to “play” naval battles, etc. When Vespasian became Emperor and the Flavian dynasty took over, he buried Nero’s golden house underground and drained the lake. He then built the Flavian Amphitheater in its place [that’s how big this lake was!]. Later the Colosseum got its name because it was built next to a huge statue of Nero dressed as Apollo the Sun God which the Romans referred to as “The Colossal Statue of Nero”, and thus the building next to the Colossal became The Colosseum. Another interesting fact about the Colosseum is that the cut in stone that you see today wasn’t always like that. Slowly overtime bricks of marble were taken from the Colosseum to build churches and other important buildings.
After The Colosseum we went to the Palatine Hill, which was the foundation of the city of Rome; then down into The Roman Forum. It was so interesting to see all the ruins of Ancient Rome and how preserved they were. I was in awe just standing in the middle of it all trying to picture what it must have been like to live there during the times, and also how old the ruins were and how long they have survived for. In the Roman Forum we saw The Curia – the meeting place of the Senate, The Temple of Vesta and The House of the Vestal Virgins – the temple where the vestal virgins kept the sacred fire going continuously [if it went out the vestal virgins, who were bound to a life of chastity, were accused of disobeying their vow and were executed by being buried alive, which was considered the worst form of punishment], The Basilica of Massentius, the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, The Arch of Titus, and the burial site of Julius Caesar [among many other ruins].
The last place we visited before heading back to Florence was The Theater of Marcellus and the Jewish Ghetto. Pictures really don’t do Rome justice at all. I can definitely say that it is one of my favorite places so far, but I feel like I have been saying that about everywhere I’ve been! I am definitely going to try my hardest to make it back there though and I highly recommend that you go and see it because it really is a beautiful and amazing city!