Yesterday was a quiet day of reading in the AAR gardens (see picture for view!) until a lecture in the afternoon, followed by a reception and then dinner across town (which made for a late night). This dinner was hosted by the Fulbright Commission in Italy and included a number of Italian teachers of Latin/Greek. Those Italians sitting near me did not speak much English, which made for a daunting evening of attempted communication. In the end, it was a worthwhile and interesting (if tiring) experience, and I got to chat with them about the different pronunciations used (Italian teachers use the ecclesiastical pronunciation, so my attempt to have us use our common language of Latin for dinner conversation failed). Dinner, on the other hand, I did not enjoy as much. Antipasti of octopus and other fish items (along with zucchini and bruschetta), followed by risotto with prawns, followed by fish and fried potatoes (those were good!), followed by a large bowl of fruit. I am not a big fish fan, so dinner could have been better. I also tried lemon gelato on the way home, but I think I’ll stick with chocolate-based flavors from now on. 🙂
Today we visited various Republican temples, mostly along the triumphal route—the temples of Janus, Spes, and Juno Sospites in the Forum Holitorium (the old vegetable market), then the Round Temple (presumed to be dedicated to Hercules), the Temple of Portunus, and the Ara Maxima (also dedicated to Hercules, traditionally by Evander for the slaying of Cacus) underneath the later church of S. Maria in Cosmedi.
We then visited the Circus Maximus (really cool to imagine 250,000 screaming spectators there, not to mention last year’s Lady Gaga concert!), then crossed the Pons Fabricius (also known as Pons Iudaeorum because it connects the island to the Jewish Ghetto) to Tiber Island. There is a column in front of the Church of S. Bartholomew commemorating it getting knocked to the ground by a plaustrum (cart/wagon) during transport. The cult of Aesculapius was underneath either that church or the nearby Fratri Boni Fratelli hospital.
We explored the Jewish Ghetto and grabbed lunch (a yummy pita shuarma (with meat, hummus, veggies), fallafel, suppli (essentially a fried rice ball), and a warmed chocolate tort) before heading to the Esquiline (walking along the way on the Via Dei Fori Imperiali toward the Colosseum). Mike, Matt, Nicole, and I visited S. Maria Maggiore and saw Bernini’s tomb, then Mike, Nicole, and I visited S. Pudenziana, which contains the oldest representation of Christ in Rome. After failing to board the subway because we entered on the wrong side (whoops), we walked down to take a lap around the Circus Maximus before heading back to the Centro.
For dinner, we had salad, risotto, and beef in tomato sauce (I skipped the mushrooms), followed by ice cream and peaches. Probably an early evening tonight before heading to Minturnae tomorrow.