Nov. 16th: Florence

After an amazing night in Florence, the FSP gathered this morning in the Piazza Santissima Annunziata, which was a classicizing portico of the 15th century (built between 1419 – 1425 CE) designed by Brunelleschi. It was a beautiful portico with the familiar interplay between squares and circles, characteristic within the Pantheon and other ancient structures that we studies throughout the term. The blue disks between the arches of the arcade (called rondels) were meant to be empty, but these were filled with pictures of infants wrapped in swaddling clothes. This was because the buildings associated with this Piazza served as an orphanage for abandoned infants, the innocenti, evoking the Biblical story of the “Slaughter of the Innocents.”


In good FSP fashion, we visited the National Museum of Florence at the end of the Piazza. Several of the items were of note. Iron stakes that were actually fire dogs from the Tomb of the Fans (2nd half of the 7th century BCE) from Populonia were amazing to see because they indicated an aristocratic burial; whoever was buried here had the capability to host large feasts and feed many people.


Finally, at the LAST formal day of the FSP, Katelyn got to give her talk on Etruscan granulation techniques, evident on a gold-granulated pin from a 7th century tomb in Marsiliana. Both the sides of the golden beads and their craft in creating this fibula (pin) were spectacular to see firsthand.


We saw several bronze statues: (1) of Minerva of the 3rd century BCE from Arezzo, (2) “Arrigatore” bronze of the 3rd century BCE from Perugia, and (3) the famous Chimaera statue (a lion with a snake and goat emerging from its body) of the early 1st century BCE from Arezzo.


The Amazon Sarcophagus showed Hellenistic painting that could have been sketched by a Renaissance artist or even a modern artist; the painters’ abilities were shown by the preserved figures of soldiers and Amazons! We also saw the Francois Krater of ca. 570 BCE from Chiusi, which had an encyclopedia of Greek myths painted all over the krater, including a centauromacy, the return of Hephaestus, funerary games for Petracolus, the liberation of Athens, and the death of Ajax.


Outside in the garden we visited tombs imported from Etruria including the Tomba Diabolino and a tomb from Volterra. After class, the FSP scattered around the city to eat the famous steak of Florence, go shopping, visit the various museums (including the Ufizzi Gallery), and appreciate the duomo.


It was a bittersweet end of the FSP in beautiful Florence. Time to play, then finish that final paper! Thank you all for following us on this amazing journey. For the last time, Ciao!


Emmanuel J. Kim

Photos by Bridget-Kate (she'll give anyone extra points if they get all the song references in quotations):

Morning lecture on the steps of the Piazza Santissima Annuziata.
Brunelleschi's loggia.
Biconical urns. Brett is SO excited.
“Mean Mr. Mustard”
“Mr. Tambourine Man.”
Last lecture of the term!
“Crosby, Stills, and Nash.” (Aka the chimera)
“This is the end, my only friend. The end.”
Checking out some Etruscan tombs in the garden of the museum.
Jin is disappointed, Aaron hangs his head in shame, and Kathleen is just glad that she has a pair of gloves.
Oh hey there, Duomo.
Dome in the Duomo. Woah, babe.
Boar and bags. Typical sight in Florence.
Uffizi Musuem: Home of one of the most impressive collections of Renaissance art
Boboli gardens: the TA's destination for the afternoon
View of the Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio from the Boboli Gardens.
The back of Pitti Palace circa sunset.
Fat, grumpy cat. #catsinitaly
Grotto of Buonatalenti.
Sunset on the Arno River.
Jin and Cara enjoy the view from the Ponte Vechio.

“Srgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band.”






Nov. 15th: Ravenna, Florence

The students began their day bright and early, with most of the group commandeering the breakfast room in order to do some last-minute craming before their written exam. Originally, we planned to leave for Florence this morning on one of the many regional trains. What stopped us? A train strike. Luckily, we found this out the other day, so we were able to make some adjustments to the schedule.

Now, Prof. Ulrich decided to make the best of the unexpected free morning by administering a written exam on the architecture and mosaics of the churches in Ravenna. Yesterday afternoon, we found this nice library to administer the exam. Chairs? Check. Desks? Check. Required silence? Perfect conditions for an exam. However, yet again our plans were thwarted when we arrived at the library and discovered that it too was closed for the train strike. Only in Italy.

Returning to the hotel, the students took over the lobby/breakfast room and finally began their exams. After 2 hours of furious writing and listening to the same song from Swan Lake on repeat, all handed in their exams and grabbed some lunch before beginning the train journey to Florence via Bologna.

Three hours and two train rides later, we arrived in Florence. The evening was free for exploration and most people wandered around the city to see the amazing buildings and taste the legendary Florentine cuisine. Bistecca Fiorentina, anyone?






Nov. 14th: Ravenna

NOTE: this is where a blog post by Mr. Edward Henderson would be, had he finished it before the end of the program. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the TA, he failed to do so. What shame.


Photos courtesy of Jiyoung:

First stop of the day: Sant'Apollinare in Classe.

Aaron wanted to go on a Safari…

…so we found some buffalo/bison/yak sculptures. Close enough.

“Isn't this just grand ol' fun?”
Prof. Ulrich points out some details in the apse of Sant'Apollinare in Classe.
So many semicircular forms…
Sarcophagus with Christ, enthroned, and the 12 Apostles.

This boy be cray.

Happy 20th Birthday, Lucas!

Birthday cupcake!

Second stop of the day: San Vitale.

Teddy unsuccesfully tries to hides a smirk. Prof. Ulrich does the Ulrich face. The rest of the group cannot contain their glee (except for Jin, who looks in disbelief).

30 seconds later…

RBU: “C'MON! What does this plan remind you of?”

Laughter stops. Confusion sets in.

Apse of San Vitale.
The presbytery.
Emerging from the depths of San Vitale.
Yuhang looks like he needs a coffee break about now…
Cara is not amused.
And, for your enjoyment:


Nov. 13th: Ravenna

Today was our first full day in Ravenna. It was also the last day we had with Pri. We started out the day with a nice introduction on the progression and basic history in front of the Basilica San Vitale. We quickly walked into the area only to avoid San Vitale completely in an effort to preserve the chronological integrity of our learning experience. We continued on the path to the mausoleum of Galla Placidia. The outside was rather bland, but the inside was full of colorful glass mosaics. “Wow” we all thought when we walked in the mausoleum. Or at least that’s what we all should have thought. I definitely thought it.

After that, we went to a very confusing museum. It was great and had two extraordinary works and other more ordinary yet still important works. When we were supposed to meet up to leave, we all didn't make it out there in time. You see, Brett and I got lost. It wasn't that bad. You can't get too lost in a building after all. We got out of there finally and went to lunch.

After lunch, we went to the two baptisteries illustrating the differences between the Arian and Orthodox mosaics. Finally, we went to the wonderful church of S. Apollonare Nuovo. It was one of the more fun parts of the day, with incredible mosaics. The End

We bid adieu to Pri. She's a pretty cool cat if I do say so myself. And I do say so myself.



Photos by Yuhang:

Church right next to our hotel.
The leaning tower of Ravenna. Well, at least one of them.
Waiting for the Prof to get the tickets.
The exterior of San Vitale.
Galla Placidia. Yeah!
Depiction of San Lorenzo.
The Good Shepherd.
Representations of the Four Evangelists: Matthew (the angel), Mark (the lion), Luke (the bull), and John (the eagle).
It's almost someone's birthday…
Nice color balance. We didn't even plan this arrangement.
Augustus as Mars Ultor and Livia as Venus Genetrix on the Ravenna Relief.

Checking out the Ravenna Relief.

Display in the museum featuring local elementary school students' interpretations of Roman grave stele. So cute.

Group photo with Pri!

Mosaics in the Orthodox Baptistry.

Mosaics in the Arian Baptistry.

Procession of the 12 Apostles.

Sant'Apollinare Nuovo. Not to be confused with Sant'Apollinare in Classe, which we will see tomorrow.

Representations of Theodoric's Palace within the church.

The Magi and the Virgin Mary.


Nov. 12th: Rimini, Ravenna

Salutations blog readers! We awoke this morning to the dulcet tones of wind and rain slapping across our windows and rattling our shutters. We have had the worst luck with the weather in Assisi. After a mad scramble to get to the bus on time, we settled down for a long bus ride to Rimini, RomanAriminum, on the Adriatic Coast. To reach such a far-off destination, we had to cross the Apennine Mountains, the “spine” of Italy. It was a long drive through the romantic Italian countryside. There were quaint cottages clinging to the sides and tops of hills where couples could live in Italy, somewhat close to Venice, but not in Venice.

Anyway, after the eventful bus ride, we reached Rimini, an important port city to the Romans, and explored the sites for an hour. We walked through the triumphal arch Augustus built in Rimini. Roundels holding the faces of gods and goddesses decorate both sides of the arch, which formed one of the gates of the city. Jupiter and Venus watch the Via Flaminia, and Neptune and Roma gaze into the city itself. We then walked farther into the town, to a church built by Leon Battista Alberti, one of the most amazing early Renaissance architects in Italy. Alberti was a master of Latin to such an astounding degree that a play he wrote in Latin as a prank convinced critics for years that it was a genuine ancient Roman play. The façade was familiarly Roman.

But soon enough, we had to depart Rimini, and Carlo had to take us farther North, to Ravenna. Ravenna was one of the latest capitals of the Roman Empire, after the split between East and West after the death of Constantine in 337 CE. Ravenna was the capital of Odovacer, deposer of the final Emperor of the West, Romulus Augustulus, and the capital of the Ostrogoth King who in turn overthrew him: Theodoric the Goth. Theodoric provided a surprising measure of stability to peninsular Italy, ruling for thirty-three years over a population that believed him a heretic. We visited his mausoleum soon after arriving in our hotel and soaking up a few minutes of wifi, which we’d been sorely missing in Assisi.

Ravenna is built on a swamp that is slowly but surely reclaiming the buildings. Every ancient structure is sinking into the mud that forms the substrate of the city, and the mosquitos that inhabit the muck began to eat us alive as we sat near the mausoleum to listen to Professor Ulrich’s historical background lecture. The mausoleum is a humble affair to see after Hadrian’s enormous tomb in Rome, but it was still interesting to see. The whole structure is built out of Istrian limestone from Croatia, a short sea voyage over the Adriatic away. The dome was a miniature marvel of engineering. It’s made out of a single massive piece of limestone carved into shape, instead of traditional Roman domes of concrete, decorated with barbarian motifs around the edge. Theodoric is a personal historical hero of mine, so seeing this mausoleum was fulfilling a childhood dream. It was very exciting, even though the site closed at four, meaning we couldn’t get inside.

Afterwards, we walked to another area of the city to see the Basilica of San Giovanni Evangelista. Most of the original decoration had been destroyed in a bombing attack in the Second World War, but fragments had been placed around the walls as an exhibition of the beauty of the 5th century church. The church had also left one of the original columns at its original floor level, which had sunk ten feet deep into the swamp. The sun set just as we were exploring the church, leaving only a beautiful ambience outside in Ravenna, perfect for young Italian lovers to meander through the piazzas and romantic alleyways of the city. It was a wonderful night.

​Now, we must sleep. Tomorrow means another long day of church-wandering, and we need all the rest we can get.

Buona Notte!



Earliest remains of a triumphal arch in northern Italy. Bam.

Small octagonal structure in front of large octagonal structure.

The group strolls through the piazza on this dreary morning.
Alberti’s masterpiece. #triumphalarch
It’s lecture time.
The group bids farewell to Carlo.

Thomas is overwhelmed with giddiness at the sight of Theodoric’s mausoleum.

Cuddle Huddle, take 1.

Cuddle huddle in the puddle (caption inspired by the wise words of Jiyoung).

Students climb up to get a view of the mausoleum.

So much going on here.

#angst #standingonstuff #aaronstillhasjin’sredjacket

Sunset behind the mausoleum.

Leaves! Changing colors! It now feels like fall.

I like big apse and I cannot lie.

Nov. 11th: Assisi, Perugia

We awoke in our gloriously toasty beds to the sound of pouring rain and howling wind beating against the windowpanes of our hotel rooms in a torrential deluge that would have Noah rounding up the cats and turtles that plague this land. We contemplated the optional church expedition set to leave at 8:30, but thoughts of the magnificent buildings (and the impending loss of the very real phenomena that are brownie points) were enough to get us out of bed and onto our rainboot-clad feet.


Assisi, like many an English adjective, is interesting. The sky is grey; the buildings are greyer; its elder-dominant population is greyest of all. The cobblestone streets hurt your feet, and the uneven terrain requires much draining uphill climbing. By all accounts, it should be a miserable town. And yet its churches, whatever your religious beliefs may be, are categorically uplifting. Our morning was spent in two churches: the Church of Santa Chiara, and the Baptistery of Saint Francis of Assisi. Both buildings were composed of a lavishly adorned space of worship – or two – and a crypt housing the remains of their patron saints. Stained glass windows painted the stone floors with blues and reds. The Baptistery in particular was decorated with beautiful frescoes depicting scenes of Saint Francis’ life, Jesus’ miracles, and starry nights. The storm outside was momentarily forgotten, and we were content to soak in the churches that attract thousands of pilgrims a year.


Happiness truly is fleeting. The biting rain, cold, and weariness hit us with a whopping thump as soon as we exited the confines of Santa Chiara, and would not relent for the next thirty minutes that were spent waiting for Carlo di Bus in what was most certainly a swamp disguised as a curbside. Not even group cuddling made it better. You know something is bad when it is immune to cuddles. But then we rode the minibus with the leaking air conditioning system for an hour through the U-bends of the Umbrian mountains, and it was all uphill from there.


I speak for everyone when I say that we had been excited about visiting Perugia for months. Sure, it is a site highly celebrated for its Archaic remains and its brutal demolition during the period of the Civil Wars, but Perugia stands as a monumental site in our minds for being the meeting place of Roger and Imogen Ulrich (PhD), world’s undisputed cutest couple. Perhaps, we thought, Perugia would tease another romance into bloom. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all attended an FSP wedding some years from now, catered by Bridal-Cake McNutty & Co.? Maybe in some nice Venetian town. I hear those have the best masonry.


We rolled into Perugia chased by the rain clouds, and quickly huddled into the “minimetro,” an underground streetcar with no driver that would slowly lift us to the summit of the town. The teetering automaton astonishingly delivered us in one piece to the city center, where we were greeted by none other than our good friend Giampiero. The last we’d seen of him was in Arezzo, where he had used his knowledge as a professore of archaeologia to guide us through the local museum. GP must have detected the despondent looks on our faces, because he quickly led us into the warm and covered halls of the Umbra Institute of Archaeology. After hugging the radiators and being warmed by a scalding cup of coffee, we enjoyed a leisurely lunch of pasta, meat and cooked vegetables. We like Giampiero. We like him a whole lot.


Eventually we were reminded of why we had come to Perugia in the first place. Giampiero had used his powers to open the local museum for us, and we dutifully filed after him into the cloister that is now used to house ancient relics. Perugia, or Perusia in Latin, stands at the foot of the Apennine mountain range. Finds of imported materials such as amber have indicated that it was a major trade crossroads in ancient times, and that much of the local population migrated with the seasons. The region consequently boasts a rich collection of Villanovan, Etruscan, Umbrian, and Roman-period artifacts originating from far beyond Perugia’s boundaries. Among its trophies is a the only extant example of a procession scene on an Etruscan sarcophagus; graffiti cursing Octavian; a lapis bearing the fourth longest surviving Etruscan inscription; and a currus, or war chariot, with Greek mythological reliefs that is often cited as evidence for the triumphal procession originating in Etruria. At one point in our lecture, Teddy spotted a rainbow peeking through the parting clouds outside and, in his excitement, threw the windows open, putting us all at the mercy of icy gusts of wind. It was out of control.


After visiting a replica of a third-century tomb accommodating fifty members of the Cai Cutu clan, GP led us out of the museum and back onto the chilly streets. The sly man must have deduced that the way to our hearts was through our stomachs, because we were then led to a chocolate store and set loose for 15 minutes. Perugia, we were told, is internationally acclaimed for its chocolates, and it would be a waste not to take advantage of the opportunity. We are nothing if not obedient, and helped to bolster the crumbling Italian economy with our purchases.


With full stomachs and big grins, we made our way to our bus and drove through the night back to grey, charming Assisi. After a satisfying dinner and feeble attempts at journaling and researching, we went to bed dreaming of Saint Francis, and a rainy Venetian wedding.





Photos alla Kathleen:

Roman Temple meets Catholic Church. #spolia

Umbrellas in tow, the group makes its way to the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

Even the statue is sad about the weather.

Medieval alleyways are windy, dark, and steep. But they are pretty to look at!

View from outside the Albergo La Rocca. You can't really appreciate the turbulent gusts of wind the photographer had to endure to take this photo.

Huddling for warmth while we wait for the bus. Dov'è Carlo?

Cinerary urn with a Vanth and the Etruscan version of a werewolf.

Giampiero discusses the different funerary practices of the Etruscans and Umbrians.

Plan of a Roman tomb that we walked right by. GP doesn't really like the Roman stuff…


#spiffy #museums #stillraining

And the Prof. tries to get the perfect shot.

This is cool. A little bit of reconstruction, but nevertheless cool.

The fourth longest surviving Etruscan inscription.

BK: “THAT'S a bear?!?!”

GP: ” Yes, well it's not alive.”

Tomb of the Cai Cutu clan. So many cinerary urns.

The decoration of the Porta Marzia was incorporated into the facade of the Rocca Paolina.

Brett puts us all to shame with his spaghetti sandwich. In the words of Carlo, “molto Americano.”


Nov. 10th: Hadrian’s Villa

Ciao Blog followers!

This morning we woke up early to a grey and cloudy sky with the first hint of fall in the air and a slight breeze. As the bus pulled up to take us on our final road trip, we were exited to see Carlo, from our first road trip, behind the wheel of the bus! We hastily threw our bags into the trunk and shouted our hellos to Carlo as we claimed our seats and headed to Tivoli to visit Hadrian’s Villa. I was very excited to visit the Villa because in my previous experiences Hadrianic structures always seemed to get thrown off the itinerary at the last minute. For example, we were in England but didn’t have time for the wall. Next, we were in Rome but didn’t have time for the Villa. This time, however, Hadrian’s Villa was going to be explored … or else.

As we stepped off the bus at the Villa (constructed from 118-138 CE), we discovered that the grey clouds we thought we had left behind in Rome had also made their way to Tivoli. Despite the weather, we excitedly made our way into the ruins of the Villa to explore. However, before our exploration could begin, Professor Ulrich finally decided to give us the pop quiz that we had been preparing for all week. As we struggled to determine which Emperor ruled almost 1000 years after the foundation of Rome (if you’re interested it’s Caracalla), we all began to feel as if we had left the Classics realm and were sitting in a class that could count as a QDS distrib. Our spirits slightly dampened, we headed into the entrance to the Villa in which a model of the complex had been set up and began our lecture. Professor Ulrich quickly wasted no time in showing us that in fact the Villa is roughly the same size as Dartmouth’s campus but was then told off by a very grumpy guard for talking for too long in front of the model. Outside the entrance, we were greeted with a magnificent view of what has been referred to as the Maritime Theater. This island-like structure is surrounded by a moat and has a large ionic colonnade of brickwork and concrete around the structure. However, as we stood around the Maritime Theater, our luck with the weather had run out as it started to rain. We quickly opened our umbrellas and headed to another part of the complex – the cubicula. These rooms were decorated with black and white mosaics on the floors much like we had seen in Ostia. The arrangement of these mosaics was interesting because the decorated parts of the mosaic were in the central panel and were surrounded by a white border on which would have been placed three separate couches. These rooms would have been used as sleeping quarters for guests of the Villa to which Teddy proclaimed – Let it be known that these rooms were designed for slumber parties.

After the cubicula, we headed to other parts of the Villa and at one point were instructed by Professor Ulrich to “take out your plans even though I know they’ve already been crumpled up or perhaps even used to relieve yourselves” … thankfully no one had attempted the latter. After orienting ourselves on the plan, we saw our first example of the so-called pumpkin vaulting that was used throughout the Villa. As Cara explained to us, because this was the private residence of Hadrian, he was able to use more experimental and innovative architectural designs within the structure. After admiring this very interesting vault, we made our way to the main attraction of the complex — the Canopus (constructed 133-138 CE). After we enjoyed a quick lunch break, Cara began her preliminary comments about the structure itself. In her wonderfully prepared presentation, she discussed the symbolism of the statuary from different parts of the Empire as well as the importance of movement throughout the complex. Like we saw at the House of the Faun in Pompeii, the vertical axis could not be directly accessed but instead was reached by moving around the complex. The main axis terminated in a large exedra-like structure that was also a great example of pumpkin vaulting in which the Emperor and his guests would have dined. This Triclinium aestivum complete with a large stibadium was richly decorated with mosaics and statuary as well as running water and was connected to the aqueduct. Our visit concluded with a quick stop at two of the main bath complexes of the Villa (much to my satisfaction) and then we were off to Assisi for the night.

By the time we pulled into Assisi, it was already pitch black and the rain had steadily increased. Much to our dissatisfaction, we were unable to be dropped off right at the hotel and had to make our way through the dark, rainy streets in search of our final destination. After much grumbling we were relieved to find the hotel and were able to take hot showers (which the girls were absolutely ecstatic about) before having dinner within the dry, somewhat warm hotel. Tomorrow we look forward to exploring this wonderful town and are hoping for some better weather. We’ll see ….

Until next time!


Photos brought to you by Brett:

The group tries to comprehend the model of the Villa before the grumpy guard kicks us out for “standing too long.”

The Stoa Poikile. So tranquil.

The so-called Maritime Theater.
Mosaics in the “hotel” of the villa.
Strange archaeological features. Strange boy. What a pair.
Trying to block out the wind and rain is no easy feat.
Hadrian made some interesting choices in the design of his villa…
Welcome to the Canopus.

Nice abs.

Cara, our fearless leader, helps the group interpret the layout and function of the Canopus.
Never smile at a crocodile.

The pumpkin dome of the imperial dining room. Huh.

Umbrella buddies!

More umbrella buddies!