September 28th, 2007
Day 13: Perugia and Carsulae
By Carol Szurkowski and Emily Huang
We started off today with a little bit of reminiscing about life at Dartmouth, thanks to the stories weÕd been able to read about the Presidential debates on campus using that rarest of treats: our hotelÕs wireless internet. After breakfast, we set off for the Tomb of the Volumni, where we saw a huge number of cinerary urns and cippi displayed atop one of the more elaborate tumuli we had seen so far. It had been built in the 3rd century BCE and was probably meant to house many generations of the familyÕs deceased, although at the time of its discovery it contained only 6. This was most likely due to the Romanization of the area.
That afternoon, we went to explore the ancient sites of Perugia with our tour guide, Giampi. We saw the ancient southern gate of the city out of which ran the road linking it to Rome, built into the side of a castle from the 1540s. We spent a while musing over the identity of the dioscorae, or twins, that were carved into the gate, and concluded that whoever they were, they probably highlighted a link with Rome by reflecting that cityÕs emphasis on twins. But the part of GiampiÕs lecture that most stimulated our imaginations was when he told us about the insulting and often obscene messages that soldiers on both sides would have inscribed onto the lead pellets they hurled at each other during OctavianÕs siege of Perugia.
After studying the gate, we stopped at the Perugina chocolate store, and subsequently participated in a wall-sitting contest to counteract our indulgences. We then made our way through the main street of the town to the ancient well of Perugia, located directly underneath the site of the ancient cityÕs forum. The well was enormous – 6 meters in diameter – and was built sometime around 300 BCE and used for approximately 2 millennia.
On our way out of town, we got some spectacular views of the Tuscan countryside from the ancient city walls.
We stopped by Assisi, a town better described as a Catholic tourist trap, to grab lunch and visit the church and tomb of St. Francis.
Then, we made our way to Carsulae, a Roman city founded in the 2nd century BC and abandoned in the 6th century AD after an earthquake. It is located along the Via Flaminia, the road that links Rome to the Adriatic Sea. We sat in a medieval church whose structure incorporated an ancient temple in its walls and learned a little bit about the layout of Roman towns, and then adjourned to the amphitheatre to watch Irat fight Josh in gladiatorial combat. Greg and Lily Dahn fought next, and due to her superior strength, size, and most significantly, tickling abilities, Lily Dahn was victorious. We saw a giant phallic tomb monument and then made our way to the theater. Driu and Lily Dahn then gave a musical performance of Frank Sinatra in the theater and we snapped a group shot thanks to self-time, before the bus took us to Orvieto for our final overnight stay of the Etruria trip.