Field school participants will live in an agriturismo (a kind of country hotel and restaurant), called Le Colline (http://www.agriturismolecolline.com), located very close to the Vacone villa site (< 2 km). Le Colline has rooms for two to four people, each with a separate bathroom.
There is wifi accessible from your rooms. It works perfectly well for email and general internet surfing. You should, however, expect the connection to be slower than what you use at home as it will be shared amongst the whole field school and staff. For example, it does not support streaming or large downloads.
During the work week (Sunday dinner through Friday lunch), all meals will be provided at the agriturismo for staff and students. We have a late lunch at 2pm consisting of pasta, cured deli meats and cheese, salad and fruit. We have a multi-course dinner at 8pm, consisting of pasta, a meat or vegetarian course, salad and fruit. The food is cooked with loving care by the owner of the agriturismo, Ferminio, and it is absolutely amazing!!! Ferminio is also very good at accommodating special diets (vegetarian, allergies). It is, however, essential that we know well in advance, so please let us know beforehand if you are a vegetarian or need to adhere to a special diet. (But note that we cannot automatically promise that we can take account of any special dietary requirements.)
The weekends are for travelling! You’ll have travelled a long way and the weekends provide the chance to see more of Italy. You will have to arrange your own place to stay and your own food on the weekends, but I’m happy to provide advice. Most students go to either Rome or Florence and there is ample affordable accommodation in both. Food costs vary, but it is always easy to find cheap food in Italian cities. My favourite is pizza by the slice. Excellent and cheap! And, of course, there is the gelato.
Participants should be prepared to work hard physically as part of the field school. Muscle power is what moves the earth around as we excavate. The work on site is physically demanding, as it involves picking and shoveling as well as trowelling, measuring and drawing, often in hot weather conditions. Therefore, every participant should be healthy and reasonably fit. June is not a terribly hot month in Italy, though temperatures might vary considerably - typically June highs range between 21° C and 33° C. Evenings will be much cooler with lows between 10 and 20° C. Even if it feels relatively cool during the day, it is essential that you protect yourself against the sun at all times, by using sun block and covering your head (with a hat or headscarf), wearing sufficient clothing (long trousers and T-shirts), and drinking a lot of water throughout the day.
We start working on site at 7am and stop around 1:30 pm for lunch at 2 pm at the agriturismo. We have a snack-break of bread, cheese and fruit in the middle of the workday, and also a short cookie break in the mornings. The afternoon will consist of a few hours of free time and a few hours of lab work or additional work on the site depending on the weather. June can be a bit rainy in the Sabina, so we will have to be somewhat flexible!
You will have to make your own travel arrangements for travel to and from Italy (specifically to Rome, Fiumicino Airport), but Dr. Rice is happy to advise. Check the internet for special offers of Air Canada and KLM/Northwest and British Airways; kayak.com is a useful website for reviewing flight options. Often, London is a good place to change planes. You can take a cheap flight to London and then take a separate flight to Rome (EasyJet, Ryanair, Vueling, etc.). To book flights on the budget airlines, you must visit their websites directly, because they do not sell tickets through travel agents.
From Rome (Fiumicino Airport), a coach will pick you up and we will travel as a group to the site. The journey will take approximately 1.5 hours from Rome to Vacone.
On the two free weekends, a coach will pick you up at the agriturismo on Friday afternoon and take you to the local train station (Poggio Mirteto) where you can get a direct train to Rome (a 45 minute journey that costs about $4.00 CAD!). You will then catch a train back to Poggio Mirteto on Sunday evening where the coach will be waiting to take you back to Vacone.
At the end of the field school, we will arrange transport from Vacone back to Rome. For those of you continuing on to Greece, you can easily fly from Rome to Athens, or if you are feeling like a sea journey, you have the opportunity to take the boat from Ancona (Superfast or Minoan) to Patras and then take the train or bus to Athens.
Purchase adequate travel insurance that will cover any travel issues, as well as health insurance abroad.
Travel registration at the UofA
All UofA students need to register at the UAlberta Travel Registration prior to departure: https://internal.international.ualberta.ca/studyabroad/main/WorkTravelPortal.asp
You need a valid passport. No visas are necessary. Please make sure that your passport is valid for the entire duration of your travels.
You will be asked to provide information about any medical conditions when you register. This is so that we have necessary information to best take care of you in the rare event that you have a medical incident. You will also be asked to sign a liability waiver at the introductory meeting (details to be confirmed).
Good health care is available in Italy and we have swift access to pharmacies and hospitals, but you should insure that you have adequate health coverage. Check your health care coverage to see if additional insurance is required. In general, some extra coverage is strongly recommended, as provincial plans are unlikely to be adequate.
If you require specific medications, please bring enough to last you for the duration of your trip. Carry as much of this on the plane with you as possible (just in case your checked luggage gets lost!).
It is also worthwhile to bring some basic medications (Tylenol, Advil, etc), as well as bandaids.
Money, Credit Cards and Bank Cards
The local currency is the Euro, worth about $1.40 Canadian.
Your spending will depend, of course, on what you want to buy and how you want to live in Italy. Accessing money is easy in cities and most towns, thanks to the proliferation of ATMs, though there is no ATM in Vacone. We recommend getting money from an ATM at the airport after you arrive. As there is no ATM in Vacone, the airport is the only chance you’ll get to acquire money until your weekend trips. You cannot use a credit card or a debit card in Vacone - the local café and store only accept cash.
Be aware, however, that many banks will charge you large fees for withdrawals in foreign countries, or rates that don't match the current exchange rates. Many credit-card companies are also now charging ca. a 3% (or more) surcharge on all transactions. Check with your banks and credit-cards for their policies and costs.
Make sure you contact your bank and all of your credit card companies for those cards you plan to use. Many cards will not work abroad unless you alert them that you are going to be there.
We recommend packing lightly so that you won’t have too much trouble getting your bags to and from the airport. See below for items you should make sure to bring with you. Carry on all valuable items and money—don’t put them in checked luggage if you can help it.
Items you MUST have:
- Photo-copy of the first page of your passport (to take with you and keep separately from your passport)
- Bed Sheets and Pillow Cases (NONE are provided for you; you don’t need to bring any pillows, unless you are particular about the ones you use)
- Towels (for bathing; again, NONE are provided for you; we’d appreciate it you want to leave your towels at the end that you bring white ones so we can reuse them in conservation)
- Pants (you are only allowed to work in pants; jeans are not recommended because of the heat; light linen or cotton trousers are recommended)
- Steel-toe Shoes or Steel-toe Boots (it’s an Italian law for workers to wear these on an archaeological site—you MUST have them)
- Field Trowel (the proper one is critical. You MUST get EITHER a Marshalltown 4-Inch Heavy Duty London Style Pointing Trowel OR a WHS Archaeology 4 inch Pointing Trowel. These are not available from standard hardware stores, but the Marshalltown can be ordered from Amazon.ca. Talk to Dr. Rice for additional purchasing options.
- Work gloves (you will get blisters if you don’t use them)
- Sun-block (it can be expensive to buy in Italy)
NB: If you use contact lenses, be aware that it is dusty on site, and so glasses or dailies might be preferable
- Kneeling pad
- Hat (for site work under the sun)
- Hydration Powder (to mix into your water from time to time; e.g. Gatorade powder; EmergenC packets)
- Mosquito Repellant (it can be very buggy at nights in Vacone)
- Cake of Laundry Soap (if you wish to do laundry by hand sometimes—very convenient)
- European Outlet Converter (to convert from 110 <Canadian> to 220 <European> volts for all electronics—but be aware that most of these converters will only be able to handle 1600 watts capacity, so leave all other electronics at home or they will be destroyed and could cause a fire. Be aware to check all curling irons, hair-dryers, and electric razors, which often use above 1600 watts.)
- European Outlet Adaptor (to convert the plug for use in a European outlet) is for electronics that already convert electricity, like most personal computers.