Saturday, May 23, 2015

Agenda for Day 08, 05-25-15

Dear Roman Writers,

Our agenda for Monday involves still more touring of the Campus Martius, but also a trip to the outskirts of the city. Here's the breakdown.

We'll gather in the Common Room at 8:30 and make our way to the Pantheon at 9:00. We'll spend some quality time there, studying it as a Roman icon, and then head for a coffee break at Tazza d'Oro (one of the two best coffee bars in Rome).

From there we'll move to Piazza Navona, after a brief stop at San Luigi dei Francesi to see Caravaggio's St. Matthew series, and the Basilica of Sant'Agnese in Agone.

Following a lunch break we'll meet at the statue of Giordano Bruno at 2:00 p.m. (14:00) in the Campo de' Fiori before moving on to Termini Station and the fragments of the Servian Wall. From there it's off to the Porta Maggiore before ending at Basilica San Giovanni in Laterano.

In and around these delights we'll visit our last two Talking Statues of Rome.

We know this will be as long a day as we'll have in Rome. But it's all good stuff. We'll take breaks, and by the end of it, we'll have earned our day of rest.


Agenda for Day 07, 05-24-15

Dear Writers of Rome,

Tomorrow's Pentecost Mass at the Pantheon begins at 10:30 a.m. It's a popular event, so if you plan to go, you should be there at least by 9:30, and make it clear that you mean to attend the mass (as opposed to simply being a tourist).

The mass will last about an hour and a half, and you'll very likely be standing for most of it. But when the petals drop at noon, you can say you've witnessed a singular Roman experience.

(If you miss it, you won't miss the Pantheon. We'll be back on day 08.)

In the afternoon, we'll convene at the top of the Spanish Steps at 1:00 p.m. (13:00), outside the church of Trinità dei Monti. After hearing about the Piazza di Spagna, we'll continue our tour of the Campus Martius, including the column of Marcus Aurelius, the Horologium of Augustus, the Area Sacra of the Largo Argentina, and (of course) more Talking Statues of Rome.


Agenda for Day 06, 05-23-15

Dear Roman Writers,

As noted, we're working on shuffling around the agenda of Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, while still keeping our free day of next Tuesday intact.

The upshot for Saturday is that we'll be moving the presentations on the Column of M. Aurelius, Piazza di Spagna, and  the Horologium of Augustus to either Sunday or Monday.

The itinerary for Saturday posted on the web is the correct one. Please meet Dr. Spinner at 8:30 a.m. in the Common Room, to arrive at the Villa Borghese in time for our 9:00 entry. The forecast is calling for scattered showers, so please be prepared.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Agenda for Day 05, 05-22-15

Dear Roman Writers,

Can you believe it's almost been a week since our tour began? We on the instruction team are very happy with how things have been going, and we hope you are, too.

Tomorrow we'll gather in the common room at 8:30 sharp. We'll keep the remarks to a minimum, because to get to the Capitoline Museum, we'll have to take the 70. A great bus — it makes far fewer stops than the 280 — but it can be a little uneven in service.

As noted at the end of today's session, you'll have to check large backpacks and bags in the checkroom. But please be ready to carry, at a minimum:
  • your audio equipment
  • Blue Guide
  • pencil (no pen) and notebook
You may take pictures without flash of the regular exhibits; you'll probably want to bring your phone, if only to help keep track of time.

I'll reinforce this idea at the morning, but we'll have at least one occasion during our visit when we'll reconvene as a group. So it will be important that you NOT exit the museum before that time. More on that tomorrow.

At the museum, we'll hear from Sarah Donovan about the Talking Statues of Rome; we'll also hear more about the statues later that day (and on Saturday and on Sunday).

In the evening we'll hear from our friend in Rome, the poet Alessandra Bava. Meet at the Piazza Farnese at 6:45 p.m. (18:45) for an interview and a poetry reading, followed by a fine dinner at Al Pompiere.


Agenda for Day 04, 05-21-15

Dear Roman Writers,

Not much to say for tomorrow, when we tour the Palatine Hill and the Forum Romanum. Most important are these two items:

(1) Meet in the Common Room at 8:30 a.m. sharp.
(2) Please bring your Blue Guides with you.

The BG will fill in the details of the Palatine Hill, which (as you know) is a warren of structures, mostly from the Imperial period. There's no need for us to turn over every stone, but the Guide can help you understand the things you are interested in.

Again, our Itinerary:


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Agenda for Day 03, 05-20-15

Dear Writers of Rome,

As you have probably heard by now, we're gathering on Wednesday in the Common Room/Lounge not at 8:15 but at 8:35.

Our itinerary tomorrow includes a tour of the Colosseum, followed by a visit to the Basilica San Pietro in Vincoli. After lunch, we'll convene at the Basilica San Clemente for another stellar site report.

Given this itinerary, be prepared to enter two churches.

As always, our itinerary can be found at:


Agenda for Day 02, 05-19-15

Dear Writers of Rome,

Thank you for a splendid first day. I think I speak for Prof. Spinner when I say that we are very pleased with how things went, and we hope you have a sense of how Reading Rome has given you a context to appreciate the many things the city has to offer.

As noted, tomorrow morning you are on your own to either plan your site reports or make a solo excursion. As you know by now, the list of excursions is both on the Writing page of our website and in the libretto (little book) of site reports.

We'll meet at 1:00 p.m. (13:00) sharp outside the Colosseum Metro stop. Remember that the stop is on the Blue Line (Line B); so you need to take the Red Line (Line A) at Lepanto and transfer at Termini. Be sure, when you transfer, that you're heading in the right direction: to get to the Colosseum, follow the signs for Laurentina (the southern end of the line).

Also be sure to have your must-bring gear, including your audio equipment. And be dressed appropriately for the Basilica of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli. And if anyone runs across that extra set of batteries, let us know.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Website PDF

Dear Roman Writers,

This is likely my last post until we reach Rome.

I've made a crude PDF of our website for you to have in case our wireless access is delayed:

The document contains the Syllabus, the Itinerary, the Writing guidelines, and Site Report guidelines. I strongly suggest that you save a copy on your laptop or other device, and perhaps even go so far as to print a hardcopy and bring it with you.

I've added this document your pre-departure review checklist.

Bear in mind, though, that the official syllabus is on the web and is subject to some changes as our tour proceeds.

Travel well!


Agenda for Day 01, 05-18-15

Dear Roman Writers,

What follows is, so far as it is possible to determine, our agenda for day one. This post covers what will happen when we deplane, when we arrive at St. John's, and beyond.

Please take the time to read this post (which is part of your pre-departure review checklist), since not everyone is arriving on the same flight, and since it will not always be possible to speak with you individually or as a group during transit.

(NOTE: Not every post for every day of our tour will be this detailed: that's why we have an Itinerary posted on our website.)

*                    *                    *                    *                    *


You might have heard that the International terminal at Rome's airport suffered a fire over a week ago. What this means for us is that the process of going through customs and getting our baggage will require some patience. Dr. Spinner tells me that lines were long and tempers short when he went through last Monday. It might be that the Italian authorities now have better workarounds in place. Regardless, our arrival will probably be the most variable part of our day.

Normally, one deplanes and takes the Skytrain to customs, and then to the baggage claim area. While there will be bathrooms along the way, wait until we're at baggage to heed the call of nature and freshen up. Help us keep our momentum through the airport by staying with the group.

Once through baggage we'll hopefully find our bus driver waiting for us; we'll board and head to Prati and St. John's. Along the way, you might contemplate what Rome is from the standpoint of size. You'll recall from our discussion of the modern city how the Regulatory Plans kept expanding outward from the historic center. This kind of concentric urbanization is what you can expect to see on the bus ride.

Those of you not arriving on the group flight are responsible for getting to St. John's on your own.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *


In a perfect world, we'll arrive at the St. John's Rome campus before noon, where Dr. Spinner will be waiting for us, looking relaxed and refreshed.

Here, too, there will be some variability. We know that the staff of St. John's wants to give us a brief orientation. We also know that in order to access the wireless internet, laptops have to be registered by St. John's IT personnel — a process that will require us to physically loan them our equipment so they can install the wireless protocols. If we get to the Rome Campus early enough, this will hopefully be done by the end of the workday. If not, we'll have to wait until Tuesday to have wireless.

At some point we'll be given our St. John's IDs, which we'll need when we return to campus from our excursions, and our passwords for the computer lab, where the computers are hardwired for internet access. And you'll want to get to your rooms, freshen up, explore the area, get money, and eat a little something.

All in all, there will likely be some down time between our arrival on Campus and when we convene in the late afternoon for our first excursion. It is strongly recommended that you avoid sleeping, if you can help it. The later you go to bed this first night, the more your internal clock will have a chance to reset itself.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *


For now it looks as though we'll convene in the St. John's Common Room at 2:30 (or 14:30 in European time). Prior to meeting up, be sure you have all the must-bring items on your excursion list (as noted on our Syllabus under "Class Participation."). If we haven't yet had a chance to distribute our tour equipment, bus passes, and booklets, we'll do so at this meeting. The instruction team will make some preliminary remarks, and then we'll be out the door.

Our destination will be the Janiculum Hill, by way of Trastevere, which we'll reach via bus. On this first ride, you'll validate your bus pass (which process we'll explain beforehand). Once we reach the summit of the hill and have had a chance to look out over the city, we'll hear our first report from our Peer Mentor on the Fontanone (Big Fountain) of the Acqua Paola.

Following the report and a little time to orient ourselves both on the Janiculum and within the larger cityscape, we'll descend again into Trastevere and have our welcome dinner at Dar Poeta, a wonderful and authentic Roman pizzeria. Our reservation is set for 6:30 (18:30), so we might spend some time in Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere beforehand — it all depends.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *


One of Professor Curley's favorite things to do, especially on the first night, is meander along Rome's dusky streets and reacquaint himself with some old friends: the Campo de' Fiori, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, and many more. If you want to join him on the long walk back to St. John's for any or all of this experience, you are more than welcome. If you'd rather head back to St. John's directly we'll point you in the right direction and/or make sure you get on the right bus. If you'd rather do your own thing entirely, no problem.

Before we part ways, we'll have said something about Day 02. For now just remember that the following morning is reserved for solo excursions and site-report planning. We recommend that you rise as early as you can and make the most of it.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Pre-Departure Review Checklist

Dear Writers of Rome,

This is arguably the most important post I'll make before we touch Roman soil. Please read it carefully and let me know if you have any questions.

As our departure looms, the thought occurs that it would be helpful to put the essential Writing Rome information we've sent over the past two weeks in one place for your review.

You should go though the following posts and pages to make sure you know exactly what to expect on our study tour. Check them off as you proceed.

  • Syllabus (esp. the Textbooks and supplies section)
  • Writing (esp. the guidelines for the Giornali assignments and the schedule)
  • Sites (details on our site reports).