Frequently Asked Questions
Everything you have to know about the Field School.
- How do I know what I will dig?
You will be assigned to excavation groups the first day in the field. These assignments will dictate where you will dig, what field supervisor you will be under, and the group you will document excavation with and do chores with. Decisions are final.
- What does a typical day in the field look like?
A typical day in the field begins at 8:00 at the site. You will dig the first half of the day, break for lunch and then resume digging until 18:00 (6:00PM). Each week will be supplemented with lectures and labs. The lectures concern a variety of subjects and feature guests from the University of Pisa. There will be three different labs that each student will attend for part or all of a work day: GIS, Material Culture, and Osteology lab.
Living in the School
- What is the living situation?
– Sleeping quarters are divided into classrooms and the gym. Each student will have a cot and a desk to keep their things in. There are few outlets throughout the school, so please be considerate in sharing.
– Girls and boys will be divided: Girls on the lower floor and boys on the upper floor.
– Boys and Girls have separate shower rooms, each with three showers in them.
– The school can get very hot in the summer, and there is no AC, but the rooms will have some large fans to circulate air. Evenings tend to cool down, and most nights are spent enjoying the courtyard.
- How does the school stay clean?
Each group will rotate through chores throughout the week. These chores include cleaning dishes, sweeping the floors, cleaning the tables, and mopping the bathrooms.
- How can I do laundry?
There is 1 washing machine that holds a small load. There will be a sign up list to determine the order students have access to the machine. All clothing must be hung to dry. Be prepared to handwash items between loads as the washer is very small and we are many people. Detergent can be purchased at the local store inexpensively.
There is Wifi in the school.
Meals and Eating
- What is the food like?
We begin the day across the street at our local “Fly In Bar”, a café, where you may get a pastry and a coffee, tea or juice. Halfway through the day, lunch will be brought to the site. The lunch varies, but usually consists of a sandwich and fruit. After the field day, students walk back to the school where they may freshen up before dinner. The dinner is served at the school and consists of two courses, the “primo piatto”, usually a pasta or risotto, and a “secondo”, usually some sort of meat and vegetables. Fruit will be provided in the evening for dessert.
We do cater to most dietary restrictions, such as vegetarian, or gluten free. Please make sure you alert us to any food restrictions BEFORE the start of field school so we can prepare.
Try to be open to trying new food! You are in Italy where they make the best food.
If you wish to supplement any meals, there is a grocery store, “The Pam”, about a fifteen-minute walk past the site. Students often like to venture here for extra fruit, snacks, and drinks.
Additionally, there is a pizzeria across the street that has personal pizzas for a reasonable price and is open most nights.
Weekend Travel and Altopascio
- What is the town of Altopascio like?
We will be staying the slightly smaller town of Badia Pozzeveri, where our site is located. The school that we live in is in the center of town, featuring a bar/café, a pizzeria, a church, and our school. Behind the school, every weekend in July, the Sagra, which is a large festival with a live band, food, and drinks occurs. It is extremely fun to go dance with the locals and is highly encouraged.
There is no English spoken in our town, but they are quite used to us every summer.
The actual town of Altopascio, located past the train station, and about a half-hour walk away has many restaurants, small shops, and an ATM. It is a pretty little town to explore, but you should try to venture beyond and see the many other cities of Tuscany.
- How easy is it to travel from the school?
You will have weekends free to travel. Day trips are very easy to nearby towns like Florence, Pisa, and Lucca using the Trenitalia train system (but be flexible, as Italy likes to have train strikes.) Weekend trips are also possible to further away places if you are willing to stay overnight elsewhere. You will, however, be required to be back at the school by 22:00 (10:00PM) sharp on Sunday.
The train station is about a twenty five minute walk away, with the train connecting Florence and Lucca about every hour in either direction. It is best to plan ahead for which train you wish to catch.
Do your research! Look up the Italian train system beforehand, try to learn some basic Italian, and, of course, we are always here to help and give recommendations.
- Living in the School:
- Set of sheets (A twin-sized fitted sheet and a cover sheet will do, you may bring a blanket as well, but it gets pretty hot) Some students prefer a sleeping bag, but do keep in mind that it can get quite hot.
- A pillow
- Bath towel, face towel
School and Excavation:
(The school provides necessary tools for excavating (trowel, brushes, etc…) so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own sets)
- Steel-toed, hiking boots REQUIRED – there is no height requirement for the boots, but I personally like an ankle support. There are many places to find shoes but if you are on a budget, Walmart has good, inexpensive options. Absolutely no sneakers, sandals, flip-flops or tennis shoes are allowed on the site. (Don’t forget lots of socks!)
- Comfortable, lightweight pants to be worn during excavation. We recommend against shorts on the site.
- Lightweight shirts with shoulders and sleeves are preferable to tank tops for excavation to protect you from the hot Italian sun.
- Pens, pencils, notebooks (you will need these for lectures, labs, and assignments)
- Wide-brimmed hat to protect the head during the hottest hours of the day
- Insect repellant
- Sturdy gloves, leather is best.
- Refillable water bottle or canteen
- Student Handbook and Syllabus
- Required Readings (either in hard copy or on a laptop/tablet)
- Rain jacket
- All required forms for the Field School
- All travel documents with extra copies! (Passport, travel insurance, health insurance, credit/debit card, etc…)
- Toiletries (Make up, face wash, shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, contact lens solution, etc…)
- All and any medicine you need regularly (required over-the-counter and/or prescription medications, in labeled containers). There is a local hospital if you fall ill. Healthcare in Italy is free. Additional hospital services (RX, CT scans, blood tests) are covered by personal health insurance and in most cases are not more than 150 €.
- Small personal first-aid kit
- Medication for colds, allergies, gastrointestinal distress, etc…
- Comfortable sleepwear and underwear
- Flip-flops for the showers
- International electrical travel adapter
- Comfortable walking shoes, when not on site
- Deck of cards, games, art materials, or books to read in the evening or on weekends
- Laptop (There is Wifi in the school- but with so many people trying to use it, it can be slow at times!)
- Lightweight jacket
- I-pod or MP3 player
- Small guide to Italian language (helpful when trying to get around Italy- don’t assume everyone speaks English! Almost no one in Altopascio speaks any English)
- Small Flashlight
- Hand Sanitizer
- Duct Tape
- Alarm Clock (one on your phone is fine)
Other Clothing Tips:
- Don’t bring clothing you care about for excavation: they will turn the color of our dirt permanently.
- Bring some lightweight clothing to wear after excavation each day- it is nice to change after showers for dinner and lounging around/studying.
- Don’t forget clothing for traveling on the weekends! Including a swimsuit for nearby beaches!
- There is usually at least one fancy dinner, so it is recommended to bring along a nice outfit.
- Should I bring much cash with me?
You will not necessarily need money during the field week, as all meals are provided. However it is a good idea to expect to spend some on snacks, and trains in and out of town. There is an ATM located about a half-hour walk from our school, but it is best not to have to rely on it. All major citied like Firenze, Pisa, and Lucca will have ATMs that you can take money out of on the weekends.
- If something happens, how do I get ahold of the instructors?
Anna and Jaidee should be notified if you have any train delays or problems with your travel that would bring you back to the school past 10:00PM on Sunday. They can best be reached through messaging on Facebook.