Today was very interesting; we took a bus to Lake Nemi to see Caligula's pleasure barges, and then went to check into our hotel in Sorrento. The view of Lake Nemi going down into the caldera is beyond comparison, it was stunning in the early morning light. While in the museum I found myself wishing that the barges were still intact, because the reconstructions and design concepts looked really cool and would have been fun to see full scale. Before this I wasn't aware that Caligula had two different ships; one possibly a sanctuary for the goddess Isis. Though I was glad to hear that the archaeologists who drained and unearthed the barges took detailed notes so that, after their destruction during WWII, the barges could be recreated to a great extent. I also learned that underwater archaeology was pretty much born trying to uncover these barges. The diving helmet had to be invented specifically to be able to explore the lake (cool!). Mussolini was also influential because he pushed for the uncovering and conservation of the barges. A hanger was even built for them specially besides lake Nemi. I absolutely loved the opportunity to learn something I hadn't heard much about before.
After lake Nemi we rode to Sorrento, which took a couple hours, but we were certainly not disappointed. It was a cloudy and rainy day but driving through the mountains was amazing! They were shrouded in mist and looked so different from anything we have back home. (We even got to see Mount Vesuvius!) Our hotel is great, even if the wifi isn't free here. But our breakfasts and dinners are provided and I'm stoked to see how the next 6 days unfold! I'm so excited to see Pompeii and Herculaneum, and I hope that we are able to climb to the summit of Vesuvius on our day off!
Today doubled as a travel day as well as a tour day as we stopped the bus on the way to Sorrento at Lake Nemi for a quick look. As Cailin mentioned, this is the site of the Emperor Caligula's pleasure barges, which are basically enormous party boats which he used to get away from Rome and relax. They were pretty snazzy, even including hot and cold running water for the baths onboard. These were a fantasic discovery when they were recovered, but they story of this process is facinating as well.
This was a must-see for this course, because our own Professor Davis is one of the very involved in the field of underwater archaeology and Nemi is basically where this practice first began. The evolution of underwater exploration owes so much to the innovations which were used here. Professor Davis, a former Navy diver who has since used this set of skills to find Ancient shipwrecks, told us about everthing from the methods of diving to the techniques used to build these types of barges and other ships of antiquity. It is always super fun when you get him talking about subjects he is really passionate about, and this was definitely his area. We had to basically drag him away at the end, and even then it was only after "one more picture!" about a billion times that we finally got on the road again.
So now we are at this beautiful 4.5 star hotel in Sorrento, and although we were sad to discover that the pool is closed (What do you mean winter isn't swimming season? This weather is definitely pool weather! Crazy Italians..), we were pleased to discover that we are all on one floor. Rather than like the other places were we are running all over to find each other's rooms in order to visit, here some of us literally share balconies. This is important because we have all become so close by now, I mean living together for this long will do that to you, but we have become really good friends. I am definitely going to be sad when we go back home and I won't get see these lovely faces everyday.