Riley James’ Photo Gallery

When I was accepted to the Monteverdi Field School, I had no idea how life changing the experience would be. I expected strenuous physical labor, I expected waking up sore after long days of working in the field, and I expected constantly being covered in dirt and sweat. But, what I didn’t expect is how much I would be affected by the places, people, and animals that surrounded me for a month in Tuscany. The five-minute hike to Castellaraccio felt new and exciting every day in the hope of uncovering a new artifact or structure, but at the same time, the site felt like home. Being able to immerse myself in a forest, which overtook a medieval castle, was so special. I was able to get to know this forest and the collapsed walls within it like a friend I made on the trip. On weekends, I visited other archaeological sites and learned how to interpret them. I knew I would learn a lot on this trip, but I did not realize how much I would gain, not only from the professors, but from the eye-opening conversations with the other students and archaeologists working on the sites with me. From discussing politics and relationships to Italian phrases and intimate stories, I found myself amazed by every conversation I had with the people digging up history alongside me. But still, what I least expected was how much the animals at the estate would affect me as well. I still think about Candela and Sebastian daily and wonder if they are doing well. I hope the stray cat Sebastian is still getting along well without us feeding him every morning and showing him affection every night. I yearn for the days where I would lay in the hammock with Sebastian during the lunch break before going out to the site again to finish our dig for the day. When I look back on this trip it doesn’t even feel real. Did I really spend a month on an estate tucked into a mountainside of Italy? Was I really able to experience Italian archaeology first hand? Without the photos I took, that month would have felt like a dream. I captured moments throughout this adventure where I fell in love with my surroundings—both the beautiful landscapes and the wonderful beings that kept me company.

Riley James

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