Blog # 8, 13 July 2017
Conference at Prato
The conference for the Australasian Centre for Italian Studies was held in the Monash University Centre at Prato, about 23 kms from Florence. We stayed there from Sunday to Friday. The conference was worthwhile going to and I attended interesting sessions on migration, literature and new ways of presenting history. I met academics, researchers and post-graduate students from Italy, Australia, NZ, Canada, USA, England, Wales and Scotland.
I felt quite pleased with my paper and several questions asked of me will help with my research. One day Alex and I escaped for a couple of fascinating hours to the Textile museum.
The experience of attending both conferences in Italy will provide me with some new ways of thinking about the challenges of research.
A weekend at Arezzo
Alex and I left Prato Friday afternoon and took about two hours to get to Arezzo, an old city with the historic centre spread over a hilltop. We visited a museum that exhibited Etruscan domestic, funerary and written items that reflect its long history. The population is about 100,000 and we enjoyed observing some summer festival activities. We attended a concert in a beautiful old church – a recital of organ and pan flute. And of course, we located a restaurant from our Slow Food guide. Great food!
Bomarzo summer days
Have you had the experience of researching accommodation on the website and the feelings of apprehension and excitement as you approach the destination? Bomarzo is not quite what we had expected but we are happy – and using our muscles to climb and descend whenever we go outside!
Bomarzo is an ancient medieval town, maybe with Roman origins, perched high on rock overlooking a rugged landscape of woods, olive groves hugging hills and rolling pastureland into the distance. Some houses, now abandoned, were caves – carved from rock. The streets in the old part where we are staying are steep and access to houses is via a flight of stone steps, usually steep – some without handrails! In the narrow steep streets where we are, it is not possible to drive a car!
About 75 kms north of Rome, Bomarzo has a population of about 1,400. The air b n b, is owned by a French couple in Paris. They’ve restored the house in a quirky way – an interesting quite spacious design. Four years ago they also purchased a garden about ten minutes walk away. They have been redeveloping it into a beautiful area with different spaces and views that look out over an undulating landscape that extends for miles. We’re here for about another ten days – feeling the heat which is extreme – between 35 and 37 degrees over the next few days. The ceiling fan is good and we don’t move much in the middle of the day!
In addition to some study for me, and reading Italian noir for Alex, there’s lots to explore in the hours away from the heat; a garden designed in the 16th century with strange figures carved out of rock – ‘the park of monsters’ or ‘sacred wood’ which we visited yesterday. Further away there’s Bolsena, a large lake, with several villages along its shores. This morning we found out from a woman who sells vegetables from the back of her van about a jazz festival in a nearby village over the weekend.
We also hope to go to Rome for a day or so before we go to Spello for the last part of our Italian adventure.