American Excavations at Morgantina:

Contrada Agnese Project

Dog Day Aidone

    I went into this summer knowing very little about where I would be staying. Very surprisingly to those outside of the field, this is not a question that really comes up when considering various projects. You are on excavations to dig; location and housing is a secondary concern. I knew I would be staying in a town called Aidone, not far from the ancient site of Morgantina. A quick internet search proved futile, providing me only with vague images of the town. I had no idea what to anticipate.

     Arrival into even one of the less glamorous piazza of Aidone quickly surpassed every visual I imagined during my long journey to Aidone. Alex, our director, sped us through the narrow streets of Aidone quickly showing us the town, each piazza and vista more impressive than the last. It should be noted that even going five miles an hour in Aidone roughly sounds like you are on a track in Daytona: the tall buildings and narrow stone streets seem to amplify all sound.

     Every street in the hilly town is graced with smoothed down paving stones, and the buildings around them are often constructed from a beautiful golden stone. The urban landscape of Aidone provides hints at a past splendor –  with many of the buildings featuring delicate stone carving and wrought iron work, much of which is currently overshadowed by flora and faded vendesi signs.

     Nearby one of the excavation apartments stood my favorite building in the town: the church of S. Leone. Its façade was filled with these off-white pyramidal stones, bordered by the darker golden stone seen throughout town. S. Leone overlooked one of the most magnificent views of the nearby fields and Morgantina. The interior of this church, however, was only visible through a small broken crack in a glass pane of its locked doors. The church had lacked a parish for years, but still hosted community events every now and again.

    To speak more on the architecture and aesthetics of the town, however, completely strays from the true beauty of the town: the townspeople. I was fortunate to know enough Italian to be nearly comprehensible when speaking to new people; thankfully I think my thick American accent and desire to learn proved charming enough to encourage them to talk to me more. In Aidone there was no need of plans; I simply started walking and would inevitably find someone – Aidonese or American – and start a conversation.

Mev Blog-Fig.2     Due to circumstances that require another post of their own, I was in need of much help, and the people of Aidone were so kind and supportive. I was a crazy American, running around their tiny town with filthy work clothes and a feral puppy, and still they were so nice to me. For instance, upon seeing that my puppy lacked a collar, my friend Massimo told me to return to his café tomorrow morning. I did, with little hope, and sure enough there was a tiny leather collar waiting for my puppy. Through these trials, I was able to become close with a number of wonderful people and families in the town. I still send them pictures of my puppy, now a proud American, although sending mail to Aidone is a mystery in itself.

      I may seem as though I am exalting Aidone beyond merit, but this is how I experienced it. I did not even begin to discuss my great experience on the excavation itself and the amazing people I got to know on the project, but once again that is a story for another time. I can not wait to return to Aidone again and meet with my old friends. Until then, my only wish is that I can keep improving my Italian so that I can talk with the Aidonese people more, and maybe even learn some Sicilian one day.

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