Five Days in Rome (Day 1)

Ciao tutti! Welcome to a short series of daily blogs from the centre of Roma! I’m very excited to be here and already exhausted and saturated with new ideas and glimpses of knowledge.

Some of you may know that I’m away for this week in Rome courtesy of Northern Bridge, the body through which my PhD research is funded. This is a such a fantastic opportunity… a five day programme of lectures, seminars, hands-on research and walking tours designed to stimulate, challenge the mind, open up our own work to new approaches and make new relationships with colleagues and specialists.

This being my blog, this is not all about academia. There are (reassuringly) photographs of places and experiences and probably food.

Up first! It’s not really 5 days. It’s kind of 7!! The ‘five’ refers to the five day programme, taking place from Monday to Friday of this week. We arrived on Sunday night – we being me and my colleague from Queen’s University, Gary.

I’d booked us into a slightly weird hotel on the first night that turned out to be an all suites residence, so everyone gets a full-sized apartment (Aldovandri Hotel). It was perfectly clean but it hadn’t been updated in some years. That included the receptionist, who remained charming all the same.

We were both starving, so we took the recommendation to eat at Taverna Rossini, which was a great spot. A big bustling bistro, with exactly the thin crusty Roman pizzas I’d been craving. First came a really good Primitivo for about 20 euro. Good value for this much flavour.

Gary looks charmed by the company!

Then the pizzas appeared (and really quickly disappeared!)

After all those carbs, I slept like a cat in a hat, but I was up by 5.30 due to the clanging of the tram. Luckily, my 1500 square foot apartment had a kitchen and some coffee so I got kicked into action pretty quickly.

I look surprisingly happy to be awake so early.

After breakfast, Gary and I set out for the British School in Rome which was to be our home for the five days. Day 1 was the lightest programme for the week. Mainly orientation and welcome activities.

The facade is very impressive.

I’m a bit daunted by the fact it was so blooming cold! Is it time for a nap yet? The coffee was wearing off.

We were shown where we needed to be and with a few minutes to spare, got to walk through the central courtyard which must be a haven in the spring and summer.

After a couple of hours, rooms were allocated. I’m lucky, mine is spacious. It’s plainly decorated, but very functional, with a large study desk from where I’m writing this quick blog.

After a brown bag lunch, the welcomes and initial lectures got underway (the Director of the School is shown here). The relationship between this institution and Northern Bridge seems to be strong and developing. As an academic institution, it has an excellent library (which we got to tour and use during the week – more later on this), facilities for Fellows to come here on long placements and relationships with universities, art institutions and other academic places in Rome and across the world.

Our minds came to exploration in a seminar and practice work with a Newcastle poet, Jake Morris-Campbell. We explored the idea of the poem as a memorial device. The other participants (about 15 of us total) are from a range of language and literature backgrounds, visual arts and creative practice. I’m the only politics participant. So all of those backgrounds and areas of study open up my mind. Although poetry is not my current study, our attention to form, language, narrative was a welcome expansion of my usual academic horizon.

Day 2 will bring us to matters of Translation and a visit back to the Seminary (gulp!)