I Mercati di Traiano

Elisabeth Hawthorne
May 13, 2015

Finals week observation: I always thought that Red Bull looked a lot like gasoline.  In that case it’s not a little punny to say that I’ve been burning a lot of midnight oil recently.  I have a large backload of material to publish on the blog, so forgive me in advance for the flood.

In a similar vein as my last post, I’d like to share a reflection on my internship this spring semester.  I’ll try a new format.

Atchugarry Installation


Bruno Liberatore


Large Hemicircle

TOP 5 THINGS I LEARNED AT THE Mercati di Traiano:

1) What the Markets of Trajan are: an archaeological site of themselves, a complex for trade, law, and administration built by Emperor Trajan around 100-110 A.D.  Sitting on the slopes of the Quirinal at the beginning of the Via dei Fori Imperiali, they are a massively impressive structure.  If that wasn’t cool enough you can actually go inside/climb around in them because they have been preserved and are now a MUSEUM.

2) The Museum of the Imperial Fora contains archaeological remains from the fora (centers for political and urban life) built successively by Caesar, Augustus, Vespasian, Nerva, and Trajan.  This means cool reconstructions of porticoes and attics and other elements of ancient Roman architecture + busts of emperors + friezes of baby cupids and bulls and winged victories and griffins and sphinxes and all manner of beautiful things.  However, the less-beautiful aspects of museum work also became apparent during my internship...

3) I learned about the frustrations of Italian bureaucracy: how slowly the system functions, it’s like grinding teeth.  It’s one of the less-ideal aspects of Italian society in general that over-institutionalization limits efficiency and sometimes action.  In my time at the Markets I was often struck by my own uselessness when faced with a situation mired in bureaucracy, out of my control or even the control of my superiors.  But this process also helped me learn that...

4) IES has got my back.  Simona Di Giustino, our internship coordinator, advocated for me so passionately in order to arrange this internship.  Having never sent a student to intern at the Markets there was a long process of negotiation, and she was admirably patient throughout it all.  IES administrative assistant Ginny Wheeler also works at the Markets and was an incredible support and resource guiding me through the wild ups & downs of an Italian workplace.

5) I learned lots of Italian, since much of my work involved translating documents and presentations on the history, exhibitions, and projects of the museum.  I was forced to use my speaking skills in order to communicate with an almost exclusively Italian-speaking staff.  I also learned lots of foul Italian because...

BONUS! Italians don’t live impersonal lives at work, nor do they experience small emotions.  I’ll let you imagine what the ramifications of that statement are for a particularly staid American in the foreign environment.  Learning how to cope in an Italian cultural workplace is about nurturing your cultural and emotional intelligence and not being afraid to be uncomfortable, roll your sleeves up, and get a little dirty (preferably not with your language, though).


There are all sorts of things to be said about adaptability, growth, and open-mindedness when it comes to an internship abroad, and I can’t say them all so I’d just like to reiterate how grateful I am for the opportunities I’ve had.  Seriously, who gets to work in a PLACE LIKE THIS!?!

Central Body


Keys to Rome


Forum of Trajan

Genius of Augustus


1940's Excavations


View of Vittoriano

Atchugarry Sculpture


Via Biberatica


Via Quattro Novembre

View from the Office!


Top of the Hemicircle


Behind the Scenes

Some of these pictures are of/taken from areas not accessible to the public, so SSHHHH.  Also, take a moment to appreciate the contemporary sculpture installations of Bruno Liberatore and Pablo Atchugarry displayed on the exterior museum circuit.

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Grazie, Roma! Bella cosa tosto è rapita.

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Elisabeth Hawthorne

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">I&rsquo;m your standard artistic mutt, head on the ground, feet in the clouds, brought to you by a serious case of wanderlust. Small-town Minnesota girl, ex-expat of Singapore, international traveler, art history major, varsity fencer, opera singer, aesthetics junkie, curious soul, gelato votary, far from home at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, making distance and immersion my teachers during a year abroad in Rome, Italy. You can follow along as I happily consume art and carbs in la bella città, but be warned I might not stay in one place for long!</span></p>

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