Morandi in New York

I got to run down to New York City this weekend with a friend and do a lot of walking around and enough museuming to hold me for awhile. I managed not to buy anything but food and drink, too – though we bought a lot of those! The best meal was certainly Indian, and I unaccountably forgot to grab a card from the restaurant on the way out. I’m going to be experimenting with chick peas for the immediate future to see if I can do anything like that. But then there were the Chinese baked goods from Canal Street. Yum. And the cute little smoothie-making machine that not only blended but sealed with a stretched plastic top – you know, sort of like a foil-sealed glass of juice. Tasty and hygienic!
The best art-dose was, of all things, Morandi at the Met. Now the Rome program went to the Morandi museum in Bologna this March, so it’s not as though I was suffering from some kind of undiagnosed 20th Century still-life deficiency. The show at the Met, though it drew on lots of stuff owned by the museum in Bologna, was more analytical and less chronological – they had lots of multiple-version paintings. There was one group of four paintings from 1937-39 that was especially good for understanding work-technique. The little variations from still-life to still-life are worth contemplating, and I am always amazed by the little landscapes in person. Definitely worth seeing.
The medieval rooms were in disarray in advance of a renovation – most of them were closed or almost empty. We spent a good time in the arms and armor section – there’s something very satisfying about the industrial design of life-saving equipment like this, with all the lines designed to slide projectiles away from the torso.
I went and mooned about the classical rooms, of course. There’s never a visit without that. There were 4 loaned pieces of Greek pottery with clear-cut signage that they were ON LOAN FROM THE REPUBLIC OF ITALY. None of them struck ME as much consolation for the Sarpedon krater, but whatever.
Lots of wandering – a few pictures. The predicted rain mainly fell elsewhere, so we weren’t too sloggy.

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate packing?

This has been a weekend of last minutery – saying good bye to folks, talking about next fall, grabbing last minute gifts, and packing. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate packing? Well, I do. It makes me sweat. I have no idea why.
So I’m trying to cram everything I brought with me or bought this semester – less the 20 odd kilos of books I shipped back to Geneva on Thursday – into my bags and wondering how I GOT it all here. In fact, I’ve already trashed my sneakers, tshirts, a pair of socks, a pair of khakis, and various toiletries. I’m thinking of tossing the jeans. Why didn’t I mail the leather jacket home when I stopped wearing it – I sure can’t wear it on the plane tomorrow.
My first night here I had a few glasses of wine with Pier Alberto Merli, who runs the language school we work with. We’re booked for 7 this, my last evening. Symmetry is good – and tonight it’s warm enough for his roof terrace!

Whoo! How DID they survive the semester?

Of course, they’re younger than I, but still . . . .
I ran up to Milan on Saturday morning and spent Saturday and Sunday night with a friend there. I’ve never really been to Milan – just changed trains in that amazing station. So this time I did all kinds of things and ate well.
This morning I headed over to Venice, the most beautiful but overpriced place in the world. I had reservations at the Palazzo Grassi for the Rome and the Barbarians show (quick verdict: go! more nuanced views to come later). It was pouring rain, so all I did afterwards was take the water bus to San Marco and go in there. I paid the small fee for the Pala d’Oro, the golden altarpiece. Yowza!
Then this evening back to Rome – that’s the part that the students were doing all the time – 3 cities in one weekend. No wonder they dragged some days, even though they’re less than half my age.
Pictures later!

And we forgot to take a picture!

We’re so close to finished that my colleague and his family are preparing to leave Rome on Thursday for a month of travel around Italy. I had them over for a farewell luncheon. There was prosecco – and there should have been photography. Then we walked to Giolitti, where there was gelato (Elena – I had visciola in your honor, along with coco and zabaglione). I hugged Nick and Nissa and the kids goodbye and went to a bookstore to drown my loneliness in consumer spending.
There’s still some work outstanding – which is perhaps outstanding work, but how can one tell until it arrives for grading? We had an appointment with the director of studies at the Scuola to pick up the Italian grades this afternoon, so we’re feeling finished – and that helps a lot!
I’m hanging around Rome until the end of April. The knee is doing better, but I don’t think I’m up for foreign travel and tromping around a lot. I hope to get up to Venice to see the Romans and Barbarians show – and maybe over to Milan from there. I’ve never really been to Milan (changing trains and running outside the station to look around doesn’t count).
I have to admit though that another two weeks in Rome won’t kill me. I never use it up. A day trip here or there, perhaps – but I’ll enjoy free wandering without a program, deadline, or rendezvous with students. I like being places but I don’t really like travelling – when I get somewhere I tend to drill in for depth rather than running around for breadth.
So – it’s been a great semester. I hope you enjoy reading about my two weeks of freedom. I know I’m going to enjoy living them!

My Life in Res Ed

Yesterday we spent all afternoon visiting the 4 apartments with their landlords. There were remarkably few problems, I suppose, though there will be a little billing for damages. The young will tape things to walls with invisibile tape – or with lo scotch, as they say in Italian. My knee held up pretty well – it was getting in and our of taxis that hurt the most. Maybe I’ll actually risk a little museumery today after more grading. Grading. Grading.
Yes, I know, as my baroquista friend says, everything is better in Rome, but grading is still grading.


Sorry for the low interest blogging – but the price I pay for having my semester end now is having my end of semester grading madness now. And we get quasi-dean roles thrown in, too – Nick and I have an appointment to visit all the student apartments this afternoon in company with someone from the rental agency to survey damages.

Book list for Layers of Rome

A commenter asked for the book list – and I realized that I hadn’t put one up! I thought I had done so back in December when we were packing to come to Rome. Here it is below.
Next time I’ll bit the bullet and use Krautheimer for the second half – it’s back in print and it’s not expensive. It’s a fun book, but not really organized in a way that I find useful. The reproductions are not very well-produced, either. Claridge is a great thing for my class – readable, filled with information but not too full, and lots of good drawings instead of bad photos. The maps could use some work.
Claridge, Amanda. Rome: An Oxford Archaeological Guide Oxford University Press, USA, 1998. [great book!]
Any textbook of Roman Art:
Wheeler, Mortimer. Roman Art and Architecture. Thames & Hudson, 1985. [most of them bought this – very inexpensive]
Ramage & Ramage, Roman Art

Kleiner, Fred, A History of Roman Art [I had used this recently as the textbook for a course – one student had taken the course and had this book – very useful but quite expensive.]
– – – – – –
Mathews, Thomas F. The Clash of Gods: A Reinterpretation of Early Christian Art. Princeton University Press; Rev edition, 1999.
ANY edition or translation of the Bible
Lots of duplicated readings, to be distributed in Rome. [I made less use of these than in the 2003 version of the course – this was almost all primary source excerpts printed off the Internet Medieval Sourcebook and its ancient sourcebook sibling.
Krautheimer, Richard. Rome: Profile of a City, 312-1308. Princeton Univ Press, 2000 [Next time I’ll try to use this as a textbook.]

And they’re finished!

And they’re finished!

Originally uploaded by Michael Tinkler.

The last presentation in the last group – Diana had already presented Tiber Island – Kelsey was showing us the facade of Sta Cecilia in Trastevere.

I’m very sad that the last 11 students had to present in my living room, but I’m very happy that my leg is not going to fall off – and I’m afraid it would have if I’d walked all over Rome for two more presentation sessions. Here’s a list of everything I’ve heard about this week.

My colleague thought of this solution – thanks, Nick!

Admission of my inability to walk this week

I just sent out this email to the students who were scheduled to meet me today (already cancelled and warned to watch for schedule information) and tomorrow:

I apologize for this, but my leg is falling apart. There is simply no way for me to cover the territory necessary for the presentations. No one is less happy than me, Mr. Let’s-embody-the-experience!
So – I would like to invite you all to join me at my apartment for refreshments (you bring, I reimburse!) at 10 a.m. (slightly earlier than our previously scheduled start time) tomorrow, Sunday. I will yank together some pictures from the web, but if you have photos on your computer or on some website, bring the computer! I have wifi. We’ll talk our way through what we should be walking.
Sorry about this! I think it may be the best solution. I’ll be calling folks about the refreshments. Did you know that there is such a thing as gelato per porta via? God is kind.

We’ll see. Thanks to my brilliant colleague for thinking of this way to finish the semester honorably, if not the way I planned.

Big Ol’ Whine

How could a 4-day period with 23 half hour site presentations get any harder? With your leg bandaged so that your knee cap is immobilized, perhaps?
Yes, I have injured myself. I don’t remember any knee cap trauma. Maybe I stepped badly off a bus and did invisible damage? Whatever happened, I woke up sore on Thursday morning and still did 4 presentation tours. The hobbling got worse. I stopped around noon and bought a pre-made knee bandage jobby at a pharmacy (20% off!). Today I did 4 before lunch (and church closing time) and 4 afterwards – I’m halfway home but if getting there depends on walking, that last half will take 8 times as long. And student presentations premised on site visits mean walking. Maybe I shouldn’t have slogged up the ramp at Castel San Angelo? Maybe I should’ve gone to the emergency room earlier?
Well, the ER doctor assured me that the knee cap is not broken and that I didn’t scream enough when he rotated the leg for him to believe any tendons to be torn – though his written recommendations include that I consider making an appointment with an orthopedist. Meanwhile, my left leg is almost immobilized, iced, and elevated. I’ve canceled tomorrow’s 5 appointments and warned the Sunday folk that they may be next.
However, the group flight leaves Wednesday morning – if I want to stick to my plan I don’t have a lot of leeway. Remember, I’m the kind of professor who thinks of giving students back the colds they give to me is better than missing class, so my immediate reaction is “why don’t I just hobble along and make them feel guilty for every class they’ve skipped because they were hung over?” Then I realize that (a) some of them were occasionally really sick and (b) that they’re 20 and they don’t really notice when the middle-aged are in pain.
Oh – and I’m beginning to think that the injection he claimed was a pain killer was really sugar water.
Fun medievalist facts to know and tell: my closest hospital is Santo Spirito, which was founded in the eighth century by Saint King Ine of Wessex! Well, sort of – Ine retired to Rome after a tumultuous career and founded a hostel for Saxon pilgrims to Rome. That institution is the direct ancestor of the parish of Santo Spirito in Sassia – but I’m reasonably sure the hospital is an outgrowth of the pilgrim’s hostel (and this article would suggest so, but it’s the old Catholic Encyclopedia and the reference is an article from 1870 – possible). So it’s vaguely appropriate for me to go there for Pronto Soccorso.

They’ve begun!

They’ve begun!

Originally uploaded by Michael Tinkler.

Final presentations began yesterday (Thursday) – and late this afternoon I’ll be half-way through them!

I’ve divided the students into groups of 4 or 5 based on easy itinteraries (sometime that means a metro ride, but hey, we all have passes). Yesterday’s group did (1) the Imperial fora and Mussolini’s creation of a propaganda-rich, if archaeologically-problematic avenue across them; (2) the Piazza Venezia from its initiation through the Victor Emmanuel intervention and the fascist era, complete with Mussolini’s balcony; (3) San Marco, from early Christian to 18th century changes; and the Markets and Forum of Trajan.

Everyone did quite a creditable job – we’re off to a good start!