Saturday, September 26, 2009

ok, too much time

when I am surfing for ancient but great music. This one brought a chuckle. It is for you, Patty, and your "patient" Amanda (a man, duh).

Lou Reed

and NYC = perfect together
The days are getting short though the weather has been holding out with mild temps in the 70s and lots of sunshine (hence the haircut by good friend Ermanno). We have been looking at several houses for sale in the hills outside of Bologna. We are still hashing over the desire for more space vs. the commute into Bologna. Coming in by car is a nightmare as it takes as long to get through Bologna as it does arriving from 50 kilometers away, though the greenery of the hills has a LOT of appeal. The big question now is Ray's education as Bologna is one of the more diverse and sophisticated cities as far as education goes (after all, it does host the oldest university in the world), and to move him to a very small school in the provincia could be a dramatic step back in time. Part of me feels that as long as he gets to the US regularly and his mother takes him to cultural events and the theater (which would be more for me I suppose) in the city, and I keep a close friendship with my best friends (from Barcelona, London, DC and S. Africa) who all have kids, he won't grow blinders and will be just fine. Here are some photos of a recent lunch outing we all went on in the hills of Bologna, a trattoria that was once a monastary. Ray and his "cousins".

I rejoined the board of the International Women's Forum after a two year hiatus. We held our first welcome back aperitivo of the new year this week. The number of English speaking women in Bologna has increased tremendously - the group had 40 members when I joined back in 2004 - now it has 150 with a lot of lurkers who haven't joined yet. The italians make up perhaps 30% and there are members from about 15 different countries.

My job is going really well this year. This class of kids are really great and we have a lot of fun. We are studying celebrations and here, Miriam, the art teacher (originally from England), had Mendhi patterns painted on their hands for the Hindu holiday, Diwali - the festival of lights.

Today Andrea is in Urbino with his students, so I took Ray for a picnic in the hills with Philippa and her girls along with Agnes, Philippa's dear friend from London who is visiting this weekend. A real hoot - Agnes - who is an attorney and has lots of colorful stories to tell of men and single-hoodom. Three bottles of vino bianco between us kept the topic flowing.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Here is Andrea's syllabus for his course that starts in two weeks. If anyone wants to audit it, I am sure he wouldn't mind. And you can stay with us for the ten weeks. But note that it is all in Italian! And most of the films are pretty heavy since it does cover Italian history after WWII.

BCSP – Fall 2009

DESCRIPTION: This course aims to offer a broad view of the Italian cinema in its historical passage from the widely recognized Neo-realist foundations to the great divide of the revolutionary sixties, which we see as the culmination of its golden age. The modernization of Italian society, the building up of the urban space over the agricultural tradition, and the problem of Italian identity as reflected in the cinema of the sixties will be among the main points discussed in the course.

All the films we will study, with a variety of styles and ideological underpinnings, explore crucial moments in the history of modern Italian society. By interpreting that history from different standpoints, the directors/authors represent encounters between cultures and religions, social classes, and the sexes. These films lend themselves to enriching discussions on film aesthetics, the development of Italian cinema, and notions of national identity and ethnicity, gender roles, and the class struggle.
INSTRUCTOR: Andrea Ricci is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Italian at Indiana University and Resident Director of the Bologna Consortial Studies Program in Bologna. His research interests are focused on several aspects of the Italian Cinema and Literature of the XX century. He has published several articles especially on genres like the Italian poliziesco, the police procedural novel, and the noir film. His most recent interests are centered upon the problem of the Italian identity as represented through film.

METHOD OF PRESENTATION: Classroom lectures and group discussions.
REQUIRED WORK AND FORM OF ASSESSMENT: Participation (20%), mid-term exam (30%), oral exam (30%), class assignments (20%)

• Introduction to the course. Italian History at the end of the Fascist period. Italo Calvino’s introduction to his "Il sentiero dei nidi di ragno" (1964)
• Neo-realism: a point of re-birth. The three directors: Rossellini, De Sica, Visconti.Roberto Rossellini: Roma città aperta (1945)
• Neo-realism according to André Bazin vs. Cesare Zavattini.
• The great divide and the fake reconciliation between two opposite concepts of Italy as a unified country. The "catholic-communism" Guareschi, censorship, and the "Neorealismo rosa." Julien Duvivier: Don Camillo (1952)
• The Italian provinces - the dreams of a group of young men: escape or integration? Federico Fellini: I Vitelloni (1953)
• Moraldo goes to town. Neo-realism betrayed?
• A new genre: Comedy Italian Style. The regional identities. The first signs of the Italian industrial revolution. Mario Monicelli: I soliti ignoti (1958)
• Getting ready for the Economic Miracle. Religion, morals, politics, culture.
• Italian history in the life of an ordinary Italian: the case of Alberto Sordi. The "Boom". Dino Risi: Una vita difficile (1961)
• Politics and History of the Economic Miracle. Social and cultural changes. The industrialization of family ties. The economic Boom in the north, in the south and in central Italy. The "film-inchiesta".
• The change from a country of peasants to a country of employees. Society in fast and constant change. Ermanno Olmi and the pseudo-documentary feature film. Ermanno Olmi: Il Posto (1961)
• Olmi’s style. Signs and cinema. The boom in the north. Calvino’s "La speculazione edilizia". What is "La dolce vita"? Structuralism and new theories. The great international success. The turning point in cinema and society. The country is changing, its cinema is changing. Italy is no longer the same. Art film vs. neo-realist film. Federico Fellini: La dolce vita (1960)
• The group ’63. Roland Barthes’ structuralist theory. Fellini and Antonioni: two ways to intend cinema and art. Instinct vs. intellectualism. Painting vs. geometry. Michelangelo Antonioni: L’Avventura (1959)
• More about the the bittersweet mix of the Comedy Italian Style. The Italian stereotypes. The problem of national identity. Pietro Germi: Divorzio all’italiana (1962)
• The episodic film: the representation of women. Dino Risi: I mostri (1962) and Federico Fellini: Le tentazioni del Dottor Antonio (1963)
• A voice in the desert. Pier Paolo Pasolini: a non-traditional personality. Hopelessness and death in the rural communities of Rome. Pasolini’s theories of cinema.
• How to negotiate between religion and Marxism: unresolved conflict. Right and Left in Italy. Pier Paolo Pasolini: Mamma Roma (1962)
• Identity and comedy. Broken dreams. The separation of classes creates the basis of conflict. The s-boom. Dino Risi: Il sorpasso (1963)

General rules:
The course is based on the instructor’s lectures on films and on historical periods that will be gradually examined, but the participation of students to discussion is required. At every meeting, readings or homework will be assigned and every week the instructor will start the class with questions about such readings or the vision of films. Students’ ability in answering these questions will be taken into consideration in the count of the final grade.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dolce Vito - Dream Restaurant

So I am told that Andrea and I appeared on British TV last night on channel 4. We were actually on a reality show, "Dolce Vito - Dream Restaurant" - albeit for us it was more for the free meal than for tv exposure when we went there in the early summer. Vito Cattafo opened an English restaurant in Bologna and the pre-opening opening for dinner was for about 100 guests. The tv crew was there and interviewed Andrea (as an Italian eating English grub) and apparently his clip made it in for a few seconds. I can't say that we would go there for dinner any time soon as Italian food is so much more interesting (to put it nicely), but it was fun to watch Vito make the rounds and at the end of the evening propose to his girlfriend 4 times before she reluctantly agreed to be his bride. If anyone sees this on satellite tv, let me know!

On another reality front, if we sell our apartment and make an offer on the house in the country, House Hunters International expressed interest on coming over to film our "experience" for their show in the US. I better keep dieting.

On Wednesday I attended a Woolrich store opening in Bologna where the crowd of a couple of hundred people spilled out into the sidewalk and devoured the sushi and Bellinies (champagne and peach juice - yum). We met Beppe Grillo, an Italian comedian and activist but Andrea thinks that this is an imposter in the photo taken with Beppe and my two American friends, Kathryn and Elizabeth. ( He also thinks I am going to miss all these social opportunities if we move out to Praticello, but I beg to differ.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Giuseppe is a gentleman whom we met when we looked into the little stone ruin on the mountaintop of Santa Maria in Castello. He works with the church administrators as the geometra who overlooks their properties. He has taken us to see a half a dozen or so different properties after we found out the ruin had been sold, and has invited us into his home to introduce us to his wife and children. Our relationship has developed into a friendship, so I will be sorry if we don't hire him to restore a church ruin, but you never know.

He invited this past weekend to visit again his hometown of Modigliana, a sleepy little village in the Apennine mountains near the border of Tuscany, where a lovely little festival was held with the theme of recreating paintings of the 1800s using live people and with half the town dressing in costume and performing period music (including Giuseppe who had to grow facial hair for his role). It was wonderful and is held every year (so come and visit this time next year if this appeals to you) - here is a sampling - they really did a great job. Next year I want to sew a costume and wear it to the event, though I will make an odd addition to the cast of local characters. Also added is a photo of the local area of the house-of-the-month.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Apartment for Sale in Bologna

It is official. We signed the contract yesterday and if all goes well, we will sell this sunny place and by next summer I will be complaining of all the yard work I have to do.

Here are some photos of Bologna; the end of a race in the main piazza, a wedding, a photo of Andrea and Ray at the news stand, and another I took last night from the window of an American friend. The two leaning towers of Bologna are its most famous landmarks. Keiko climbed to the top of the taller one by herself one year, and I did it with Pico and Jeremy a couple of years ago. It has the most beautiful views.

I wonder if I will miss Bologna should we move into the provincia.

First Day of School

Ray had his first day of school on Monday, and we faced the horrendous inserimento process where we have to stay with him initially, then leave for shorts bursts of time over the period of two weeks. The Italian law says that employers must give time off to parents for this, though the employees do have to use comp or vacation time. Being that I work at a school, it is difficult to ask for time off at the most critical period of our new year. But they did their best to help me out.

Luckily, on Monday, I had the day off and took Ray in on the Vespa at 9.30. After 15 minutes of lingering around the classroom and being totally ignored by Ray, I asked the teachers if I could leave. They told me to return in 45 minutes and took my cell number. When I returned (after a lovely caffe americano e pasti di mela at my favorite local bar), I was told to take Ray home. The next day, since they understood Ray was so tranquillo, I was allowed to leave him until 2.30, then the rest of the week full days until 4.15.

Ray loves this school and is so happy to go. The playground is less beautiful than his old school, but more contained so he is free to run to his heart's content. It is so lovely to watch him grow and mature. An absolute tesoro.

Thinking of America on this date.