Hello everyone! What a busy day! I’m all settled in at Orvieto by now, but it was surely a fun adventure to arrive here. Not to mention, I even managed to sneak in an afternoon of laboratory work!
Since I did not attend graduation, so that I could visit my family in New York instead, I flew out of Newark Liberty International Airport rather than Boston, from which Joonho departed. My flight took off fifteen minutes early—it was a very smooth flight, and the in-flight entertainment was so abundant that I only got an hour of sleep: in retrospect, a bad decision. Passport control was smooth, my baggage arrived, although late, in one piece, and I was able to grab a nice Italian breakfast in the café at Fiumicino.
However, there was one dilemma—my flight arrived at 7:30 A.M. Rome time, five full hours before the Boston flight. Thus I was responsible for traveling to Orvieto all by myself, unlike Joonho, who had an escort. I welcomed this, though, not as inconvenience but rather an adventure—I have always had a secret passion for train adventures, especially through foreign countries. Soon enough I lugged my bags to the airport train station, muttered a few words of rusty Italian to buy a ticket, and somehow managed to hoist, like an Olympic weightlifter, my 50 pound duffel over my head onto the overhead rack. An Italian nonna, as the locals say, yelled something—whether praise or scorn, my sleep-deprived mind could not understand—yet I was satisfied and sunk down into my seat on the surprisingly modern train. Next to me sat a German businessman who rebuked my attempts to begin a conversation in German with a harsh nein. After a connection in Rome’s massive Termini station (the Grand Central of Italy) I boarded the train to Orvieto and arrived at the station after an hour of beautiful vistas of Lazio and Umbria. When I arrived, after a quick slice of pizza, Darlene, my eventual trench supervisor, picked me up and drove me to our accomodations.
Out of all the places at which I have stayed throughout the world, I must say that our current residence in the convent ranks among the most interesting, if you will. A former religious facility-turned-summer-dwelling, the housing, although somewhat run-down, maintains a rugged character which parallels the hardy spirit of the dig. Joonho and I are to sleep in a triple room with another one of our friends from Exeter, and I must say I’m excited that things turned out that way.
Our daily weekday schedule runs as follows: after an early breakfast at 7:30 AM, the team heads out to the trenches to work until 12. Following an hour long lunch break, we resume work until 4:30 to 5, when we have free time until a 7 PM dinner. Afterwards, we are free to hang out, work, or explore the surrounding area until “a reasonable hour.” Honestly, though, I know that I will be exhausted after such a long day, so I’m not expecting many late nights. Except for the weekends, perhaps, when Joonho and I are free to travel through Tuscany’s famous cities, beaches, and islands.
I arrived early enough in the day that I was able to spend the afternoon working. There was no digging involved for jetlagged me, though—only laboratory work. We sifted through some finds from many years ago, actually, and, through many shards of regular pottery, we found some nice pieces with Attic and Villanovan finish. Attic finish developed in Athens during the sixth to fifth century B.C. and consists of the ever-so-familiar orange and black designs, while Villanovan pottery stretches way further back, dating to prehistoric times, recognizable by its linear and geometric inscriptions. We also gained the rather lucky chance to clean the actual skull of 2500 year old Etruscan king named Useles. It was a very interesting feeling to hold a recognizable, copper-tinted forehead within my hands—though I can say I have smelt death now, after accidentally inhaling some of the dust.
Soon later, it was time for dinner—penne with tomato cream sauce and an apple-baked chicken—and, afterwards, a scenic view of Orvieto at night and a pre-bedtime game of backgammon. The score: Joonho 2, Bliss 0…
As Bliss mentioned, my flight from Logan Airport was delayed for around an hour but no travel plans were deterred. I ended up arriving in Rome at around 2 P.M., and because we were late, the trains that we intended to board had already left. Instead, we waited around the Termini station and awaited the train to Orvieto.
When we arrived at Orvieto, it was already 6:45 P.M.—just about dinner time—so I exchanged greetings with the professors, specialists, and students who had been at the dig for the past two weeks. Following our cook Tommy’s delicious dinner, Bliss and I settled in. We made our beds, brushed our teeth, and fell into bed—almost as if we had experienced dorm life before. After a quick game of backgammon (it’s funny to note that Bliss introduced me to the game, and ended up losing the two times he has played me), we set alarms for 6:45 A.M. the next day, and went to sleep.