From Sicily to Florida

I always loved the past. I found comfort reading about it, picturing distant and lost civilizations and observing their fragile artifacts displayed in museums. I wanted to study the past since I was six years old. Being born and raised in Sicily, an island that is overflowing with archaeological treasures and with a splendid ancient history. My daily life was surrounded by the remnants of the past.

Endless hours translating Greek and Latin authors at a young age and getting lost in myths, tragedies, chronicles and treatises convinced me to be a classical philologist. My initial academic background was in Classics, but the discovery of archaeology during my college years changed the course of my studies and my life. The first archaeological excavations I took part in, at the Minoan Villa of Ayia Triada in Crete in 1998, were a revelation and a point of no return. Prehistory became my first scientific love. Sicily, Malta and Greece became my favorite field of research. Then my training in Italy’s archaeology school and my doctorate studies further expanded my focus to Greek and Roman civilizations.

It was almost 15 years ago that my perspective on the past changed. It happened with the realization that, if you want to see the invisible, read the unwritten and reconstruct the disrupted, archaeology needs the support of other sister disciplines. It was the beginning of my deep dive into computer science, geology, chemistry and physics. I was taken by the hand by many friends and talented colleagues who helped me build from scratch a new scientific background. Gradually I turned into a Digital Archaeologist and an Archaeological Scientist.

All of a sudden, through the lens of a 3D scanner, a microscope or a spectrometer, the past looked different, clearer, sharper and more colorful. My research became less conventional and traditional and essentially more interdisciplinary and collaborative. The language of my research too shifted from Italian towards English.

I left Sicily for Florida in 2016 finding at the University of South Florida the ideal environment to put at work my research vision and foster innovative projects in the field of Digital Archaeology and Archaeological Sciences. The foundation of the Institute for Digital Exploration and the establishment of the Mediterranean Diet Archaeology Project have become the coronation have become my research trajectory thus far.

My interest for field archaeology never diminished, however, and after two decades of field work in Crete and Sicily, I contributed to the creation of Melite Civitas Romana project, the excavation of the Domus Romana in Rabat, Malta. In Florida, I also unexpectedly found Sicily in the splendid archaeological collections of the museums of the Tampa Bay area, in the research interests of newly met colleagues and in the extraordinary culture of the Sicilian-American community of Ybor City.

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