Rachel in Italy

Rachel is a Distinguished and Veritas Scholar who is majoring in Latin American Studies in Dedman College. She is participating in SMU-in-Italy and helping archaeologists excavate an Etruscan hilltop settlement.

Experience of a lifetime

Wow. That’s all I have to say. Excavating on the Poggio Colla site has been the experience of a lifetime. Not just the excavating itself, but the entire life one leads in rural Vicchio, Italy. The people, the place and the program are what really make this trip amazing.

Starting with the people – during this program I’ve forged some of the most intimate friendships I’ve ever had. You don’t really bond with somebody until you’re down on your hands and knees sweeping dirt off of dirt so it looks “clean.” But seriously, the quality of individuals attending the Poggio Colla field school is unparalleled. I never want this trip to end! I want to continue living with 19 other individuals in tiny rooms at Vigna! Seriously though, I do.

The place. Oh, the place. Vicchio is one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever had the good fortune to lay eyes upon. I’ve become so used to the natural splendor, sometimes I have to pinch myself, look outside, and consciously remind myself, “I’m living on a vineyard in Tuscany, wow.”

The food is also just absolutely decadent. Two of the best cooks you’ll ever meet, Bruno and Beppina, live under Vigna’s roof with all of us. Talk about being spoiled. Dallas Italian food is going to pale in comparison when I return. Until then I’m going to gobble down pesto gnocchi like nobody’s business!

And finally we come to the program. Dr. Greg Warden and the rest of the senior staff keep this program running as smoothly as butter. Which is quite difficult considering the crazy maladies that inevitably pop up on this trip!

The junior staff who serve as our trench supervisors and assistants are also some of the most quality human beings I’ve met to date. They’re your teachers and friends. And they’ll squat down in the dirt with your and furiously excavate a 5m x 5m space with trowels smaller those used for gardening. That’s some devotion.

Devotion is really what this program is about: a dedication to finding and preserving history, a commitment to educating the world’s future archaeologists, and most of all, the drive to doing it all while having a really, really good time.

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In Vicchio!

I apologize for the absence. I’ve been sans Internet for the last week really. We just got it up and successfully running yesterday in Vigna, the house I’m staying at in Vicchio while I’m on the dig. It’s been an exhausting week! Much learning and physical labor.

We’ve been learning the art of archaeology from the best and brightest – having lectures every night and getting firsthand experience up on the Poggio Colla site. Today, we were assigned our trenches. I’m in PC 41. It’s a very exciting trench. So far we’ve uncovered inscribed pottery and a spindle whirl! I made those finds – I’m just lucky when it comes to those kinds of things. I told our trench supervisor, Cameron, that he should be glad I’m on his trench – I’m very, very lucky!

Anyway, finally we have our first two days off tomorrow and Sunday. I can’t wait for some R&R. Seven hours a day on the hill can get you seriously tired. The major upside, though, is the food is seriously delicious. And with the amount we work, you can justify eating whatever you want!

It’s been an incredible week so far.

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Hello, Rome!

DSC01830.jpg Finally! I’ve arrived in the Fiumicino (foo-mi-chi-noh) airport in Rome, Italy. I’ve been traveling since 8:30 am on June 24, and it is 7:45 am on June 25 here. That’s a ridiculous amount of traveling. Do I get a breather? Nope!

One of my fellow students, Amanda, on the dig happened to be on my Rome-bound flight out of Boston a day earlier than most of the group. We sat together and tried to sleep as much as is possible while sandwiched into economy class seats on a 777.

So, we make it and manage to find the metro, purchase tickets, and make our way to the center of Rome. We exited the station and promptly headed the wrong way, armed with a googlemaps map that was less than completely correct. Not to worry though, we figured out our mistake … albeit about a mile in the wrong direction lugging around 50 lb bags and 20 lb backpacks!

We then did the impossible and found our unlabeled hotel, which is very nice, and proceed to head back to the station to gather up the girls who arrived later than we did and lead them back to the hotel.

One of the girls’ phone is off and we’re afraid she didn’t make it. Luckily, we decided to waltz into the train station and check the incoming train from the airport. Jackpot. We get our girl, Ainsley, and with her is one of the boys on our dig, Ross. He saw her college sweatshirt on the plane and asked if she was on our dig. Indeed she is. So our quartet makes our way to a great tiny Italian eatery down the street from our hotel and munches and talks.

DSC01837.jpg No time to waste, though; after that we collect ourselves and shower and change clothes and head off to see the Colosseum. It takes us about 30 minutes walking to get there. Dr. Warden was correct about the Italian sun; it’s hotter than you’d imagine!

Anyway, we walk around and all three of the others give me the rundown on the Colosseum, and the two arches that surround it. We even peek into the dig next to it. Serious stuff. Is that what we’re going to be doing?

I’ll find out tomorrow!

In the meantime, the other three are all out dining. As for me, this is my goodnight address! Bed, here I come.

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