So again this is an old post that I started and didn’t finish and now that school is starting tomorrow I am looking for any excuse not to lesson plan (okay, okay I did lesson plan for Latin 2 but I wanted a break before Latin 1). So I finished some hanging sentences and got this post ready for publishing.
This past weekend was 3 day weekend and in the tradition of the last few years Ann and I rented a car with a group of friends and we drove around the countryside looking at old stuff. This year we drove north to look at some Roman and Late Antique stuff in Ravenna and Rimini.
The drive up to Ravenna but mostly uneventful except for missing a turn and taking the back roads but it was pretty. We made it to our hotel after finding a few one way streets that sent us the wrong way. The hotel was great, we had a suite in their “Residence Inn” type section and it had AC! This was important since if you didn’t know Italy is in the middle of a heat wave. Tony says it hasn’t been this hot for this long since he started going there in 1988. Anyway back to Ravenna: After a quick change and bathroom break we headed into town to find lunch. Which we did in another air conditioned place called Passatelli. It seems to be a lunch/dinner joint during the day and a bar/dance club at night. Didn’t matter we all had wonderful food there. I got to have rabbit ragu and we shared some cheese platters. As a quick aside: I hope that one day Americans stop worrying so much about pasteurization and allow these wonderful cheese in Italy to be imported (or allow people to make them here). You can guess from this aside that the cheese was amazing.
After lunch we braved the heat again and went out in search of the National Museum. After a stop at the duomo which was located not in the centro and on a really unimpressive piazza we found the museum and it was not air conditioned. But it was still really cool. They had finds from the palace of Theoderic the Great (whose tomb we stayed next to), the medieval and early modern period, the museum even had a reconstruction of what a renaissance pharmacy would have looked like. Of course we all got excited for the dumpy looking iron age material (but hey we know what we like).
After the museum we stopped to get a refresher but it was still too hot out so we trudged back to our haven of AC and ate dinner in that night. The suite had a really basic kitchen and we were all really full from lunch and the heat that we all had some variation of caprese salad, we also watched music videos (still a thing in Italy) and In Search Of (a 1970s/80s TV show narrated by Leonard Nimoy about aliens, big foot, talking plants- it was the history channel of its day).
The next day we turned south and visited Basilica S. Apollinare in Classe which has some excellent examples of late mosaic work (alas my camera battery died before this and so I only have a iPod picture. Still you get the idea.
We then ventured towards Rimini and walked around the Roman sites there. We saw the triumphal arch, the piazza over the forum, the Tiberian bridge and the amphitheater. We also walked around the city which was the second most damaged city during world war II (after Monte Cassino). There was a lot rebuilt but there was also a lot from the 19th century still preserved. Alas the local museum was closed until 5 that night and we just didn’t have the energy to stay till then and so headed home. But I want to go back since they have a Roman villa under glass right next to the museum.
Yesterday we headed to Montepulciano and Montalcino and just walked around the city centers. Since it was Monday the museums were closed. I know I was sad too! Both are wonderful cities to visit but we all were overwhelmed with the amount of English being spoken and the bad manners of the tourists there. One family stopped when they heard a violin being played and tried to look into the window and even tried to take a picture. It wasn’t like it was a part of some prepackaged city experience, it was a dude trying to practice his violin. On a positive note I tried Brunello gelato, it was okay. Try it if you are there but don’t go out of your way. We then returned the car to Siena and drank a lot of beer at La Diana.
Overall a really solid break in the middle of a super busy summer.