Ravenna: mosaics, ideas and bikes

Part of ceiling, St Vitale

Italy blog # 5 – Sunday 11  June 2017

Ravenna hosted two concurrent conferences from 5th to 9th June: the 4th International Federation for Public History conference and the 1st Italian Association for Public History conference. Over 500 people attended from many different countries and particularly from Italy who presented mostly in Italian: professors, researchers, archivists and students both undergraduates and PhD candidates. There were not many Australians  but unusually, three of us were involved in the panel of which I was a member!

The conference was really fascinating – a big program and in nearly every session there were speakers whose second (or third!) language was English. The days began at 8.30 am and the last session finished at 6 pm.

I was quite pleased with my presentation. The three or four questions posed to the three panel members were about the political context of oral history and in my case, migration. I was also asked a question about interviewing people who had returned to live in the Veneto. I was able to say that I have lined up one interview for 23 June in the Veneto!

An Italian researcher working on a project in Berlin approached me after the session. She is researching the veneti who were conscripted to live and work in the Agro Pontina the swampy marshes near Rome, and also Libya during the Fascist years. She is interviewing people who experienced those years and will contact me about my project and see if there is any cross references with families from the Veneto who emigrated to Australia and people in her project.

Alex and I made a few visits to see the mosaics at the UNESCO sites. We were fortunate that the Ravenna Festival was on and we attended two concerts in one of the main basilicas. Listening to the Miserere of Allegri and being able to gaze up at the ceiling of mosaics was sublime. We also attended a session of ‘Students for Dante’ – a daily performance by Conservatorium and school students inspired by different verses of Dante – it was inspiring.

And it seems that most citizens of Ravenna own bikes. No one wears helmets, and old and young cycle the streets. Parents carry their small children in customised seats front or back. One day I saw a mother with a toddler in front and older child at the back!

Yesterday we arrived in Chioggia, a very busy fishing port at the southern end of the Venice lagoon. It’s got canals and old buildings on the water and huge numbers of boats – both fishing and for leisure. But it does not have the tourists. Alex loves it! We’re here till Tuesday and go south to Cannara in Umbria, a small village near Spello.

Conference panel: Graham Smith, UK, James Worner, Aust, & Tanya Evans, chair, Aust.
Cyclist and artist, Gustav Klimt, just one of several poets featured on a wall in Ravenna

2 thoughts on “Ravenna: mosaics, ideas and bikes”

  1. So glad to hear all went well at the conference Mads! It sounds like a wonderful experience for you and a great way to network with others who share similar interests. Fab to hear about your travels to new places and towns that you are enjoying exploring. All is well back here. Don’t worry about us in chilly Adelaide. 😉

    Love Sharon xx

  2. Hi Mad.
    I was hanging out to hear about the conference, and hoping all went well. How interesting for you to hear and share your work. 500 people how exciting Mad. And also to hear that you were approached by an Italian researcher working in Berlin. So pleased that all is going well.
    I await with interest Blog 6!!!
    Cheers Les xx

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