The sound of alarms was foreign to our ears following a weekend without curfews or reservations. We groggily crawled out of bed, donned our clothes (or those of a good Samaritan), and made our way to the Forum Romanum via the Jewish ghetto and its gourmet bakeries. We shuffled down into the Forum and slumped onto the ruins of the Temple of the Vestal Virgins, and looked up expectantly at Professor Ulrich. Il professore, however, was having none of our stupor, and encouraged us to live in the moment by recounting the tale of how he got his pilot’s license post-midlife crisis. Aaron questioned, quite reasonably, why we were traveling through Italy on a minibus, after which we learned that not everybody with a pilot’s license should have one.
Rather than attending a flying lesson on Dartmouth’s dime, however, Professor Ulrich’s adrenaline pump came in the form of an extensive worksheet to be filled out and turned in by midday. The next four hours were spent examining, measuring, reconstructing, and interpreting the remains of the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the Basilica Julia, the Basilica Aemilia, the open Forum area, and the Temple of Divus Julius. The exercise came complete with a formal request for us to yell at the top of our lungs across the Forum area and to scope out graffiti. The group divided and attempted to conquer the Forum with varying degrees of success. All were frustrated and none felt as if they were flying a jet plane, but damn Jupiter if we don’t know the Forum like the back of our hands.
Speaking of the lightning god, he must have been even less pleased with us than Professor Ulrich, if the thunderstorm that insisted on beating us into the foundations of the Forum was any indication. The group did their best to put on brave faces under our meager two umbrellas and total lack of rain jackets, but by hour two we’d dropped the façade and were grumbling and rumbling along with the storm. It was like that Woody Allen movie in Paris, except we weren’t in Paris and there was no happy ending in sight.
When midday hit and we’d consumed our soggy lunches, we trudged through the mud into the shelter of the museum housed in the Curia, the ancient meeting place of the Senate. The highlight of the exhibition were the floor of the Senate the anaglypha traiani, relief sculptures depicting scenes in the Roman Forum of the second century AD. They were extraordinary works of art in themselves, but the roof over our heads rendered them unforgettable.
We spent the rest of the afternoon trailing after Professor Ulrich as he related the history of the structures we’d been scrutinizing that morning. Our class, however, was cut short when the rain shower turned into a torrential downpour and we sprinted after Dr. Roger Ulrich as he hurdle-jumped into the altar of the Temple of Divus Julius to seek refuge from the worst of the storm. We ended the day with gelato and tiramisu at a nearby bar, and rushed towards Trastevere with the promise of scalding showers and soup leading us home. We’re all coming down with pneumonia again, but it was a day to remember.
Photos (brought to you by Thomas):
One rainy day in the Forum…
The day started out promising, with sunshine and joy and learning about Prof. Ulrich's pilot license. Say what?
Measuring out paces for the assignment. You might not recognize him without the plaid shirt, but there is Aaron with some new duds (ie Teddy's clothes).
At least Jiyoung is still smiling.
The FSP flocks to the trees for cover. Jupiter is just not on our side today.