Normally the start of a new semester means settling into a routine. Once you memorize your class schedule, meet your professors and classmates, buy books, scan the syllabus, and the like, your day becomes more or less habitual. Every day you wake up at this time, walk the same route to campus, report to this classroom, and grab lunch here. But classes in Temple Rome are far from the regular classroom drill. First of all, I only have classes on Monday through Wednesday, so I have a four-day weekend every week! No classes are even offered on Fridays, so everyone at least has three days each week to fulfill any travel plans. But this isn’t to say that having a short week is any less challenging than having a full week back at main campus; my courses are loaded with information and almost all include excursions of some kind! One of my classes, History of Art in Rome, is twice a-day…a site visit in the morning and a lecture at night. So every week, our classroom is in a different part of the city! This Tuesday, our first site visit was to the Roman Forum, which can be reached very easily via the Metropolitana di Roma (subway). Rome only has two metro lines: A and B, so it’s very simple to use. It’s similar to SEPTA in Philly (they’re even the same colors, orange and blue). Construction for the new C line has been ongoing due to its location underground, running right through the ancient part of the city. Archaeological investigations have to take place before the construction can continue, so it’s a long process every time an excavation needs to be conducted. Talk about clash between old and new! Rome is trying to advance as a modern city, but still trying to preserve its ancient roots. I noticed this after stepping off the Colosseo stop from the B line. After coming up the steps, the Colosseum was towering right in front of me! It wasn’t guarded off at all, or set aside like a tourist attraction. Buildings, restaurants, houses, etc. were all built around it as if it were still in use today.
We met our professor outside the stop and then headed over to the Roman Forum next to the Colosseum, which was amazing. It was 12 euros to enter the forum, but this included entry into the Colosseum as well. The forum is a plaza of ancient government ruins, which served as the center of Roman public life as far back as Rome’s inception with King Romulus, and continued for centuries as the communal center around which Rome developed until the fall of the empire. Today, the forum is only architectural fragments, but it is still amazing what has survived over the centuries. The Temple of Saturn, for example, can be identified by its portico pillars and partial frieze, that stand high above the forum at the foot of the Capitoline Hill. You can stand right underneath the temple (close enough to touch), which my art teacher recommended we all do. From this view, you really got a better perspective of how tall the temple actually was. It was amazing to be able to walk through and touch the stones that the first people of ancient Rome did as well. My teacher even pointed out a game etched into stone steps that children would play for entertainment while perhaps waiting between public speeches. This site visit was definitely a great way to begin the class, and all my classes at Temple Rome, because it gave me a visualization of the ancient city at its beginnings. I look forward to progressing through its history!