ONE-MA3 – Day IV: Learning about Mosaics, piece by piece!
By Sophia Mittman ’22
Today was our first official visit to an archeological site that is relatively new and currently undergoing restoration. Only two-minute walk from the beach in Sabaudia, the site consisted of two large rooms that used to serve as Roman baths. While the arched ceilings and general architecture were exquisite for saunas, we were most impressed by the patches of mosaics covering the floor. It was crazy to realize that it has been over two thousand years since multitudes of people have stepped foot on those tesserae—citizens of the Roman Republic! Even more, the floor mosaics hadn’t been cleaned yet. That was our job! Eventually, we found that scrubbing with soap and water wasn’t the best solution to get the mosaics back to their original white sheen.
Cleaning the mosaics
Amidst another afternoon at the beach, we learned about hydraulic cement that the Romans used to create sea moles (not the animal; a mole is a concrete jetty protruding from shore that served as a sea port back then and now serves as a great place to eat lunch and enjoy the view of the sea). When we got back to the castle, we had our first official lecture on various methods of photogrammetry and various techniques that we will be using all over Italy at archaeological sites when it comes to 3D modeling art and structures.
Concrete jetty at the beach
Okay, now two fun facts that have nothing to do with the mosaics: 1. They are filming a movie at the Castello Caetani about the life of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. For the past few days, the castle has been turning into an even older environment with baskets of dried beans and fruits and palms lining the stony entrance of the fortress near the drawbridges. Besides the continuity error that Jesus didn’t live during medieval times, just the fact that it is an authentic movie set that we get to walk past every day is exciting!
Movie set at the castle
On a more personal note, I still am amazed at how kind and welcoming the Italian locals are. Of the very few Italian phrases I am familiar with, I am fairly confident in saying “ciao” (hello/goodbye) and “buongiorno” (good morning), yet those individual words and even just smiles are enough to bridge the communication barrier between us and the locals in casual interactions. Something that amazed me most occurred this evening: a little girl was playing with a ball in the castle courtyard. I Googled how to say “Can I play with you?” and walked up to her and asked. She didn’t speak a word of English, but we had such a fun time kicking the ball back and forth to each other before dinner. Sometimes she would say something in Italian, and I of course didn’t understand a word of it, but just smiled and nodded. Here in Italy, I am so happy that the communication barrier is not a large concern. The friendly and open nature of the Italians has made me and the others very comfortable here in Sermoneta. Professor Masic also knows Italian, and he encourages us and helps us out when we want to learn more words and phrases!