And I awake at 6:58 a.m. to birds! Noisy birds! Many different varieties of birds! I think the centro storico of Rome has two kinds of birds – pigeons and gulls. Last night my parents put out the leftover catfood (picky picky eater, that Luc) “for the owl.” I heard him hooting in the night, too.
It’s good to be home.

Home after insane travel day

Home to my parents’ house – showered away the grime of 20 hours of travel using a lovely American water heater rather than an inline thingie and ready to collapse into bed.

oh – I wasn’t sleepless at 3:24 a.m. as the time stamp on this entry would have it, but was dazed enough at 9:24 p.m. that I didn’t reset the time zone for my computer.

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!

Writing History

Prof. Burke offers a quick guide:

I tell my students that all good research projects and analytical writing have to provide an answer to the question, “So what?”, a justification for the project or the essay. One student asked me if history as a discipline had any stock or standard answers to that question.
I started to list a few that I could think of, and then a few more. I thought I’d try out the results here, to see if readers could knock a few down or add some more.

Go read his list.

Getting Ready for HOME

And the Leningrad Cowboys kinda help. Thanks, Dan!

Though all things considered, I prefer Shelby Lynne’s version of home:

Though given where I’m headed, Miss Patti Page* is more appropriate than Miss Lynne. Well, we Southerners are enriched by our suffering, so multiple melancholies can only help.
Why melancholy? Well, I leave Rome Monday after a very good four months. We had a good program, I made some friends, I liked my apartment. Still and all, I’m headed home, and that’s good.

*Omigosh – she released that the year before my parents graduated from high school!

The Milan Galleria

So also on the Piazza del Duomo in MIlano is a temple to commerce, the Galleria. Much as I love this space – the first covered mall in modern history (though the ancient Romans did it much earlier) the art historian in me flashes to Boccioni’s Riot in the Galleria, one of the great Futurist paintings lusting for modernity through violence, the kind of lust that got him killed in a training accident in WWI. Still, the Galleria is an amazing spatial experience. And Boccioni was a first rate artist.

Milan photoset.

College Licenseing Weirdness

I thought that I had seen a few more sweatshirts in Rome this winter with the Franklin & Marshall seal than was really probable, especially since F&M has no program of their own in Italy, but I had no idea there was a whole company doing it until I saw this shop in Milan! Wikpedia to the rescue – the last section of the F&M entry notes suppressed (9:34 a.m., 4/24/08):

In 1999, after seeing an official Franklin & Marshall sweatshirt, a company based in Verona, Italy began producing clothing in a vintage 1950’s collegiate-style with the words “Franklin and Marshall” on them. F&M alumni began to report seeing F&M merchandise for sale in Europe, which puzzled the college.
In 2001, Tim McGraw posed for publicity photos wearing a “Franklin Marshall Wrestling” t-shirt, one of which was included in the CD booklet for his album Set This Circus Down. When the college became flooded with inquires about its (nonexistent) connection to the singer, they began to investigate further and discovered that the Franklin Marshall Clothing company was using its name without permission.
In 2003, after lengthy discussions, the college decided not to sue and instead agreed to accept a licensing fee from the company so that they could continue to produce their products, which had begun to gain popularity with youth, especially in the United Kingdom. The company also rewrote their history slightly, claiming that it was founded in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, rather than in Italy.
Today, the line is sold in upscale stores, such as Bloomingdales and, as part of the agreement with the college, at the Franklin and Marshall College bookstore. However, many of the designs omit Franklin & Marshall’s ampersand and instead reads simply “Franklin Marshall.” As of December 2007, a green shirt with the “F&M” logo was spotted on a female tee shirt in Mirabello Sannitico, Italy.

Love that classic Wikipedia concluding sentence – semi-relevant personal observation couched in the passive voice. Still, my questions, “what on earth is that?” and “I wonder if they’re getting a cut?” are answered.

Milan photoset.

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!


I had planned to go up to San Lorenzo fuori le mura (St. Lawrence outside the walls) even before I knew it was a grey and melancholy-looking day. It’s a long ride! When I got up there I remembered that I had never been to San Lorenzo alone, and no one is ever willing to indulge my hobby of monument-choosing.
What’s more, there was a funeral in the basilica, so I had to find something to do – and here it is: the Verano Cemetery set. Lots of good stuff!

Street of columbaria

Originally uploaded by Michael Tinkler.

This is a typical street of Columbaria – the cubbyhole tombs that ought to remind you of catacombs. All sorts of sizes are available – from something approximately 12″x12″ (and I have no idea how deep) to these bigger ones. Columbarium in Latin means dovecote, which is obviously descriptive – these are the homes for the doves of our spirits?

Pizzicaria Family

Originally uploaded by Michael Tinkler.

My favorite inscription in the whole place – NO TEARS, FEW FLOWERS, MANY PRAYERS. I think I’m going to have that carved on my tomb.
Further: I put all this interest in intermediate resting places down to being born and raised in Tennessee of Alabamian and Tennessean parentage, and parents with a serious interest in genealogy and graveyard-going. I am really, really Southern, no matter how I might sound when I talk. There was a particularly horrible novel of the 70s called Kinflicks. The one person I sympathized with was the mother, who had her funeral plans and grave stone text in a pre-announced pigeon hole of her desk, just in case she passed in the night. What can I say – the grotesque in Southern literature is in YOUR mind, not ours. For us it’s part of the carnival. You know what bothers me? The fact that my parents haven’t settled where they’re going to be buried yet. Me, I’m all in favor of a small mausoleum on these lines in the Salem burying ground. Would we give scandal to the Associate Reformed Presbyterians? Well, one can hardly help that.

So what am I doing with free time in Rome?

Sta Cecilia in Trastevere

Originally uploaded by Michael Tinkler.

Mosaic-hopping, of course! This are the inscription and lamb bands at Sta. Cecilia in Trastevere – about all that’s left of the 9th C church (yes, another Pascal I building like Sta Prassede and Sta Maria in Domnica). The knee is somewhat better, so trudging around Trastevere wasn’t too bad. This morning I’m off to Saint Lawrence outside the walls – long bus ride, but not much walking.