And then, like a thunderbolt out of the sky -- schoolwork!

Well, at least some talking about it.

We (at last) learned of our first assignments that first Monday of October, and a rundown of what the general scheme of things would be for the quarter.
maybe there's a way of being an "enlightened tourist" so that something meaningful can come from all the running around and gawking.
Two credits of Italian class on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons (mmmmm, afternoons...), 5 credits of drawing class, at various sites around town, on Tuesday afternoons and Thursday mornings (d'oh! mornings!), 5-credit grad student seminar Monday nights, starting tonight; seminar for Seniors (hey, that's me!) on Thursdays; and site visits abounding in between. And hopefully some studio time to get stuff done, but hey who knows...

Maybe there's something to be said for being a tourist after all; maybe there's a way of being an "enlightened tourist" so that something meaningful can come from all the running around and gawking. Man, I hope so.

We'll have 17 credits this quarter, slightly more than a regular full-time load (15 credits) at the UW. Since I need very few classes to graduate, I've been taking 12 credits each quarter for the past year or so. Now the load increases while at the same time we have more distractions. Oops, I mean art to look at.

The remaining 5 credits will be part of our first assignment -- the Artist in Transition. We've left behind familiar lives to go somewhere 10,000 miles away (or more) that we've heard about, or maybe been to before. Just the transition of living here for 11 weeks would change things for some people. And since we are the types of people (art students) whose "thing" is to describe reactions in a visual manner, we're now here to see how it changes our creative reactions.

The first part of the assignment is to get familiar with our own neighborhoods. We mostly live within a ten-minute walk of the Campo, but we're spread out enough that groups of four or five can be assigned a nearby area to investigate. Three of my roommates -- Joe, Nick and Steve -- are grouped with me, and we get to cover Trastevere, the residential area "across the Tiber" that seems to have a pizzeria every six feet of sidewalk space and a vespa scooter driving down every one of those sidewalks.

Our assignment is to hang out, draw, read histories, talk to people when we can, go shopping; figure out what the public spaces are, and what they're for, then use them whenever possible so that we get a feeling of life in the neighborhood that's strong enough to describe to the rest of the class. With five groups covering the major central areas of town, our "critique" of this introductory project will happen as we tell the stories and show our drawings on walking tours of the city.

The only walking I wanted to do was to the closest newsstand, even if I couldn't understand most of the headlines. Even in Italy, I was a news-hound, and the morning English-language paper -- The International Herald Tribune -- brought news that my fabulous Seattle Mariners were not simply going to lie down and die in their second postseason ever. Having defeated the Baltimore Orioles 4-2, the M's were now down two games to one in their best-of-five first-round playoff series. Not that I was able to keep up on it or anything. The game had taken place Saturday night in the US, and what with the time difference and international newspaper deadlines, I wasn't able to read anything about it until Monday morning. Where's Armed Forces Radio when you need it most?

With the group gathered at the Rome Center, we began to make headway and plowed through our Week in Review, a lecture by UW Professor Trina Deines on the Urban History of Rome, and a slideshow presentation by grad student/TA Sara Yerkes of the Villa Giulia, which we'll visit in a few days as part of the drawing class.

Built for Pope Julius III in the mid-16th century, the Villa Giulia houses the National Etruscan Museum. Meaning, more sarcophagi dating from pre-Roman Empire times, although there's also the occasional dish or vase with a sexually explicit decoration to liven things up a bit. I hadn't really expected to come to Rome, home of all those ancient columns and temples, and been given so much pottery and caskets, I suppose.

Dunno why that is, but I certainly got my fill of looking at it last week on the all-day trip to Cerveteri and Tarquinia, and the Villa Giulia houses some of the same relics taken from those very sites. Still, this place is a lot closer to us; we can take city buses (if we're in the mood for a mob scene) or even walk to get to this site, and this time it'll be specifically for drawing class rather than just to gawk at.

Since theoretically the purpose of this entire trip was schoolwork, and the purpose of this website is to document the trip, I'll simply present for you now the raw notes I took (except on a computer screen they will now be legible ;-), and allow you to make what you will of them. I can't guarantee that they will make sense to you (or even that I wrote down precisely what was said), but consider it one more learning tool to discover the history of the city and culture....

notes on History of Urban Rome - - - - notes on Etruscan History at Villa Giulia

We adjourned to our apartments, or whatever point of interest around town suited our fancy. I went to Bibli, the local net cafe frequented by UW students and local book lovers, to expand on my, uh, journal entries :-) then later I watched from the window of our apartment as a violent thunderstorm raged directly over the Trastevere neighborhood.

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