About the Program
ISI Florence is a proud partner of the Summer Trasimeno Archaeology Field School. This exciting academic program offers students the rare opportunity to explore a recently discovered and largely unexplored Roman archaeological site in central Italy, the Gioiella-Vaiano Villa, inhabited between the 2nd century B.C. and the 3rd century A.D. The dig site shows promise having so far unearthed the remains of the Roman villa, mosaic floors, multiple edifices, and what may prove to be a road. The dig operates only during the summer months and is located on the shores of Lake Chiusi, on the border between Tuscany and Umbria. The program’s academic center and housing are located in Castiglione del Lago, on the picturesque shores of Lake Trasimeno.
This six-week program begins with student arrival and pick-up from the Florence airport and transfer to a hotel for a welcome dinner and brief program orientation. The next day the group is brought to the charming lakeside town of Castiglione del Lago where housing and facilities are located. This town has been chosen for its wonderfully hospitable community and proximity to the archaeological site. Student time is allocated between on-site work (at the dig site on Lake Chiusi), in-class lessons, field trips to nearby historic sites, and extra-curricular activities. At the end of the program, students enjoy a farewell party and are taken by private bus to Florence for the next day’s departure.
The Field School Courses
The Field School consists of two courses, one theoretical and one practical, with daily work on the archaeological site. The program aims to provide students with a comprehensive overview of up-to-date theories and methods of archaeological research and fieldwork as applied to the civilizations that shaped the history and culture of central Italy.
The two courses are:
CLAS 320: Archaeology in Central Italy: the Etruscan and Roman Heritage
This course introduces students to the region’s history and heritage, as context for archaeological research. It also provides a theoretical background for the summer program’s learning and training.
Course credit: 3
CLAS 430: Archaeological Field Workshop
This course is an archaeology practicum whereby students work on the Gioiella-Vaiano Villa site, alongside archaeologists. Students gain fundamental skills in archaeological research and apply them over the course of the project. The goal of the campaign as a whole is to assess the original pattern of human impact on the entire territory and understand its development since antiquity.
Course credit: 3
ISI Florence’s mission is to develop students’ expertise in the full range of methods and processes employed in a complete archaeological project, from research design and preliminary survey of the territory to methods of data collection in the field and digging, to the cataloging and display of archaeological remains. By investigating the archaeological heritage of this landscape, the field workshop provides an instructive example of how different civilizations built upon one another in the same geographic area.
The Ancient Roman Excavation Site
The fieldwork takes place at a recently discovered Roman Villa located on a gentle slope overlooking Lake Chiusi near the Umbria-Tuscany border. On fieldwork days, a private bus will take students to the site for a full day’s work and research. Lunch is on-site, and students return home in the mid-afternoon. Alternating days will be spent in class, at local museums, or on field trips to nearby sites of interest.
This archaeological team has now completed five seasons of research at the site. Preliminary findings indicate that the site was occupied from the 2nd century B.C. to at least the 3rd century A.D. While the villa was most probably spread out over a wide area, excavations have focused on uncovering the bath complex and a large centrally located building that was likely an elaborately decorated Roman dining hall. In addition to learning archaeological field methods, students have the opportunity to help with the site GIS (Geographic Information Systems), the 3D visualization of the site and its objects (Photogrammetry), and the scientific analysis of the local ceramics (petrography). Every summer, students also contribute to the display of artifacts in the expanding archaeological museum of Castiglione del Lago. The Archaeological Field School is a long-term project run in cooperation with local institutions, ISI Florence, Umbra Institute (Perugia), and DePauw University (Indiana, USA).
Important Note: Participating in an archaeological campaign is exciting work, but it is also sometimes tiring and challenging. It is important that you are ready and fit for outdoor physical activity. The typical day starts very early in the morning to take advantage of the cooler weather and runs until mid- to late-afternoon.
Student Life in Castiglione del Lago
Castiglione del Lago is a charming medieval town in Umbria, located on top of a small peninsula along the southwestern shores of Lake Trasimeno. Member of the prestigious “I Borghi più Belli d’Italia” Association (The Most Beautiful Villages in Italy), Castiglione is situated between renowned historical cities, such as Orvieto, Chiusi, Arezzo, Cortona, and Perugia. All Field School participants stay in Castiglione del Lago, which is only a few miles away from Perugia and easily accessible by bus or train. Program participants live in modernly furnished apartments (2-3 students each), a short walk from the lake shore, supermarkets, and all other important amenities. All apartments include fully-equipped kitchens.
In line with ISI Florence’s traditional focus on community engagement, Field School participants have the opportunity to enjoy local day-to-day life and experience the atmosphere of an Italian town. Castiglione is an internationally renown summer destination for relaxing vacations, swimming, sun-bathing on its beaches, or for practicing a variety of sports: cycling, sailing, wind- and kite-surfing, and canoeing. The beautiful hills surrounding the area offer opportunities for hiking, mountain-biking, and horseback riding. Bus and train services connect Castiglione to other cities, including Rome and Florence, making it easy to travel over weekends.
The Archaeological Field School aims to involve the community of Castiglione del Lago in a long-term relationship. As part of the program, students cooperate with the local archaeological museum to enhance its visibility and impact.
The Trasimeno Archaeology Field School is run by ISI Florence in collaboration with the Umbra Institute, the Archaeological Superintendency of Umbria, the Municipality of Castiglione del Lago, and Intrageo Archaeology.