beach chair on coast

Quick Hot Summer

I’ve left Rome for three destinations this summer, each time coming back with newfound appreciation and newfound frustration for my adopted home. A week in Abruzzo, leading a summer school in the village of Castelvecchio Calvisio, was a pleasant retreat from the noise and heat of the city. Walking from the nearly empty village out into the countryside was a joy, but the lack of broadband internet grew tiresome quickly. …

Reviewing Augustus’ Tomb

Yesterday I checked out the restoration in progress at the Mausoleo di Augusto, Augustus’ tomb. I was lucky to get in. On December 21st, when they launched the invitation to Roman residents to join free guided tours, I had jumped online and booked before they “sold” out. Now they’ve extended booking through the summer but it is again sold out. The 50-minute tour was well-organized and the group of about …

Roman Winter, Roman Pandemic

A year ago this week I attended the last social event pre-pandemic, a vernissage of an exhibit of ceramics at my studio/gallery space. And then for a few days I lived in paranoia as it became clear that the Coronavirus was spreading at events like that. Thankfully no one took ill there, but for the next two months we watched the country, and the world change. Lockdown turned my vibrant …

Goodbye Via Alessandrina

This post is a reflection on a road which from the 16th century until recently traversed the Imperial Fora in central Rome. It wasn’t a great road like Via Giulia, and in fact in recent years it was often closed, abandoned, overgrown. But like any road it was a connection, it offered a path for people in the city. Until the 1930s it was the central artery of the Quartiere …

Conversations on Rome and Architecture

As part of my teaching for the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Rome Program in Architecture this year I have worked hard to bring as many voices as possible into the (virtual) classroom. My small group of students, working from home (in California for the most part) are already feeling isolated during these difficult times and listening to me for hours on end isn’t going to solve that. I have …

Piazza Tevere Rising

I spent a blissful hour lounging on the banks of the Tiber today, taking in the September sun after several days of rain. I had put off my “site inspection” of the much awaited urban beach but I chose an excellent day to visit. The recent installation of grass, beach chairs and cafe furniture along the left bank between Ponte Sisto and Ponte Mazzini should be seen as a pilot …

Learning from Afar

As an American living in the heart of Rome (for almost thirty years now) and involved in teaching and travel consulting, the changes that I’ve seen since the start of the year and their impact on me have been enormous. In February I was scouting a program in the southern Italy and heard people on the Naples subway jokingly commenting about the Asian tourists they saw and the disease they …

Transition

As the coronavirus lockdown continues into its second month in Italy the mood has changed from the early collective sense of urgency and participation to a more reflective consideration of what could happen next. It is much easier to focus on the present and to repeat the mantras of “stay home” and “wash your hands” than it is to envision the world as it will change when the immediate medical …

Pandemic in Rome

Lockdown

Italy has been in the headlines and the attention of the world is focused on the European country with the most (though not the first) cases of the Covid-19 virus. We have an excellent public health care system and the medical profession moved quickly to extend Coronavirus testing wherever there was suspicion of outbreaks (one of the reasons for the particularly high numbers of positive results). For a country famed for often …

On Overtourism

Yesterday I took a train to a small town outside of Rome to spend the day with my son who recently moved there. Descending, I notice a number of passengers greeted in English by a smiling hostess. “Are you here for the wine tour?” Soon a dozen mostly Americans (a fact gleaned from the “where are you from?” chatter I heard in passing) were following her up into the town. They probably had a great experience and tasted some lovely wines, but it left me reflecting on the problem of “turistificazione”, a term I had just read in an article about airbnb and its effects on our cities.