Day 28

Greg Sokol and Driu Colgan

Friday, October 12th.
Sites: Tivoli (Hadrian’s Villa and Alba Fucens)

Today was the first day of our glorious trip into Samnium. However, before we got into Samnite territory, we made a pit stop in 2nd century A.D. imperial Rome, at the Villa Adriana, or the “pimpest place on the planet,” according to Driu Colgan ‘08. This villa is of special import to Mr. Colgan, who plans to model his future presidential library and private villa after Hadrian’s. Gregory Sokol ’10 plans to spend his life preventing such a catastrophic event as Mr. Colgan’s election from taking place. However, in the case of such an unfortunate event, Mr. Sokol will be spending his days watching High School Musical in the newly remodeled Maritime Movie Theater.

The Villa was Roman Emperor Hadrian’s private retreat in Tivoli, about 23 kilometers of Rome, if Mr. Sokol the Engineer remembers his distances correctly. Hadrian, who dabbled in architecture, had a hand in designing his 160-acre estate, although the architecture was predominantly under the care of Apollodorus of Damascus. According to Mr. Colgan, the villa was “AWESOME.” Though nothing of historical significance occurred here, the villa is an exquisite architectural and artistic treasure. Its design is a fusion of both Greek and Roman forms, with many experimental elements found among the grounds. This is probably due in part to the fact that this was a private space, meant only for viewing by Hadrian and his elite guests, rather than the eyes of the general public. However, the prodigious use of concrete also enabled this revolutionary architecture, as many of the forms depend upon its strength, lightness, and versatility. The traditional “post and lintel” architecture of Greece, of which Hadrian was very fond, becomes merely an aesthetic; here it is replaced by arches, vaults, and dome structures, permitted by the use of concrete. In addition, even within a certain architectural style, Hadrian would often blend orders, like mixing Doric pilasters with Ionic columns. We also have such diverse structures as columns mixed with vaults and arches and domes resting on architraves. Also notable is Hadrian’s use of water, both as a medium to reflect his architectural designs and as a freestanding design element. Keep in mind when viewing these photos that many of the structures at Hadrian’s villa were constructed in the “opus reticulatum” style, which means that they would have been covered by marble revetments and stucco.

The Villa features several specific structures of note, including the Maritime Theater, Canopus, and Piazza d’Oro. The Maritime Theater is neither a theater nor maritime; it was Hadrian’s private island retreat within the Villa. Circular, about 42 meters in diameter, and surrounded by a 10-foot, knee-deep moat, the theater served as a locale for “private Hadrian time.” The island had a small bath complex, which Professor Ulrich ILLEGALLY crossed the wooden fence to explore, making Lily Dahn nervous. She was then arrested by the Carabinieri for accomplice to trespassing, but released to Briar. Just kidding.

The Canopus was a long pool bordered on one edge by arched niches and statues (note the alternating arched and straight architrave, which was very unusual), and on the other end by an outdoor nymphaeum sheltered by an enormous concrete half dome.

Allia Benner ’10 enjoyed the statues a bit too much, it seems.

The Piazza d’Oro is a fantastic example of the axial nature of Roman architecture, as the center pool was aligned with both entrances to the area. Also, in this picture we can observe Dartmouth Classics students in their natural habitat, unaware of the camera capturing their studies.

Overall, this trip to Hadrian’s villa marked the high point of the FSP for Mr. Colgan. Also of interest to our resident engineer, Mr. Sokol, was Professor Ulrich’s sweet homemade three-dimensional camera system.

From Hadrian’s villa, Giovanni, our new bus driver, took us to Alba Fucens, a Roman colony. Most of the settlement was situated in the saddle between three hills. We first explored a church from the 1200s that was built on top of an ancient temple, and then ventured down to the actual town area.

Features of note included a small shrine to Hercules (the statue from which we saw the following day in a museum in Chieti) and many tabernae. The highlight of the day for most of the FSP students (except Zeke, he missed it) was Chelsea Mehr ‘08 falling while skipping along an ancient road in the forum. We left under the colors of a brilliant Apennine sunset. When we got to our hotel (excuse me, motel), Giovanni offered to drive us to a discoteca, but most of us were too tired. However, Giampi made us drink wine, and then we went to bed.