Category Archives: Uncategorized

How to Volunteer

If you are looking for a chance to travel but don’t want a study tour and would rather commit yourself to doing something useful and learning something new, consider volunteering.

Here are some opportunities —

American Friends Service Committee — I was a volunteer in their Mexico project in 1956. AFSC entry at Volunteer Match


Volunteer Abroad — opportunities in Italy

Transitions Abroad — opportunities in Italy

Global Volunteers — opportunities in Italy

CADIP — Canadian Alliance for Development Initiatives and Projects — opportunities in Italy

Life on the Reservation


The recent victory of the Italian right wing has brought a new wave of anti-immigration rhetoric, enforcement, and legislation.  It has also brought anti-immigrant violence.

This poster of the right wing Northern League coalition of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi warns: “They underwent immigration, and now they live on the reservations.” The point of the poster is to suggest that if Italians continue to allow foreign immigrants into the country, the native Italians will soon find themselves in a minority, subject to the arbitrary rule of those foreigners.

This image is from the slide show accompanying an article in today’s New York Times: Michael Kimmelman, “Italy Gives Cultural Diversity a Lukewarm Embrace,” New York Times, 25 June 2008.

Rome 1968

Sylvia Poggioli, National Public Radio’s senior European correspondent, based in Rome, reported this week on the student uprisings of 1968, forty years ago. She reports that “March 1, 1968, has taken on a mythological stature.This was the battle of Valle Giulia, the meadow in front of Rome University’s school of architecture. Some 4,000 students confronted police surrounding the building. It was a violent clash — about 150 policemen and 500 students were injured.By early 1968, most Italian universities were occupied.”

You can read or listen to the story here. The web site also includes photographs, music, and other materials about the events of 1968 and the “Years of Lead” that followed.

Angels and Demons

Elisabetta Povoledo reports in the New York Times for June 24, 2008, on the filming of Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons, starring Tom Hanks. Several of our students have spotted the film crew around Rome and report on it in their blogs. Povoledo speculates on the tourist spinoff of the film. Already there is a guided tour of Rome based on the book, and it is expected that the film will draw still more tourists to Rome in search of the sites described in the film–but in the case of the churches, not actually filmed, since the Catholic Church denied permission for the crew to film there.

Travel journal – from your phone

In a June 19, 2008, story in the New York Times, Bob Tedeschi describes a new on-line service that allows travelers to post stock photos and text from their cellphones to on-line travel journals. Here’s his description of the service:

Travelers too lazy or too enthralled by their journeys to keep comprehensive journals will soon be able to outsource the job to their cellphones. Telestial, an international cellphone network, plans to introduce a service in August that tracks your travels and posts (to your private Web page) stock photos of everywhere you’ve been. Then while you’re sitting on the runway waiting for takeoff, you can post entries on your online travel journal via text message. The service is included in the price of Telestial’s international phone packages or SIM cards.

Bush a Roma

Bush e Berlusconi.jpg

President George W. Bush is in Rome today. Here he is visiting with Italian Prime Minister Sylvio Berlusconi, recently re-elected to the office.

George Bush has visited Rome more than any other European city in his term as president.

The photo is from today’s La Repubblica, which reports that the American Academy in Rome displayed on its facade the slogan, “Basta Bush” — enough of Bush.

Berlusconi has supported the U. S. war in Iraq; the Italian people appear to be strongly against the war.


One of my most cherished possessions is a pencil-pastel-chalk drawing of Vesuvius as seen from Sorrento. The drawing was made by my grandfather Thomas Newton (or perhaps by his father, my great-grandfather) in 1876, more than 130 years ago. Thomas Newton was an Englishman who brought his wife, son, two daughters, and his mother-in-law to the United States, in 1913. My mother, Beatrice, was born in England in 1913, the youngest of the three children–she was just five weeks old when mother, grandmother, brother, and sister came with her to Oswego, New York.


I grew up seeing the drawing of Vesuvius in my widowed grandmother’s house in Oswego, New York, and then in my parents’ house in Connecticut, where I grew up. My mother and father are gone now, and the picture has come to us. It is old, the paper has darkened over the years, and it is no doubt brittle and fragile. Perhaps we’ll be able to do something to preserve it, and be able to make a good digital copy.

Vesuvius erupted in 1876. Thomas Newton’s drawing shows smoke rising from the volcano in the distance. All during the late winter and early spring, eruptions had been expected, as smoke poured from the volcano, and seismic instruments indicated increasing agitations. The New York Times reported from Naples on 2 February 1876 that the volcano was expected to erupt at any time, possibly interfering with the carnival. On  3 April, the Times reported that the eruption began on  17 March and was expected to be a long one.

It is said that Nietzsche wrote Human, All Too Human at Sorrento in 1876, when he, too, would have seen the erupting volcano. Nietzsche was an inquisitive cultural observer, perhaps prompted by the experience of tourism to some reflections on the scene in which he found himself at Sorrento —

Fashion and modernity. — Wherever ignorance, uncleanliness and superstition are still the order of the day, wherever communications are poor, the landscape is meagre and the priesthood powerful, there we still also discover national costumes. Where signs of the opposite of these are to be discovered, on the other hand, fashion reigns. Fashion is thus to be discovered next to the virtues of present day Europe: could it actually be their shadow-side? — In the first place, male dress that is fashionable and no longer national says of him who wears it that the European wishes to cut a figure neither as an individual nor as a member of a class or nation, that he has made a deliberate quenching of this species of vanity into a law for himself: then that he is industrious and has little time for dressing and self-adornment, likewise that he finds that everying costly and luxurious in material and design accords ill with the work he has to do; finally that through his costume he indicates the more learned and intellectual callings as those to which as a European he stands closest or would like to stand closest: whereas it is the brigand, the herdsman or the soldier who shine through the still existent national costumes as being the leading and most desirable situations in life.

Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human, trans. R. J. Hollingdale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 363.

San Giovanni in Laterano

Last week our students in the Rome program visited the church of San Giovanni in Laterano.

Here is Michel de Montaigne’s account of his visit to the church at Easter in 1581 on his journey to Italy:

“On the eve of Easter I saw at Saint John Lateran the heads of Saint Paul and Saint Peter that are shown there, which still have their flesh, color, and beard, as if they were alive: Saint Peter, a white and slightly longish face, his color ruddy and inclined to the sanguine, a forked gray beard, his head covered with a papal miter; Saint Paul, dark, his face broad and stouter, the head bigger, the beard gray, thick. They are up high in a special place. The way of showing them is that they call the people by the sound of bells, and by fits and starts lower a curtain behind which are these heads, side by side. They let them be seen for the time it takes to say an Ave Maria, and immediately raise the curtain again; after that they repeat this exhibition four or five times during the day. The place is about as high as a pike, and then there is a heavy iron grill through which you look. They light several tapers around it on the outside; but it is hard to discern very clearly all the details. I saw them two or three times. The polish of these faces had some resemblance to our masks.”  Michel de Montaigne, “Travel Journal,” in The Complete Works, trans. Donald M. Frame (New York: Knopf, Everyman’s Library, 2003), 1171.

The Blue Guide: Rome mentions that the baldacchino in the church, by Giovanni di Stefano, “contains 19th-century gilded silver reliquaries traditionally thought to contain the heads of St. Peter and St. Paul.” Alta Macadam, Blue Guide: Rome, 9th edition (New York: Norton, 2006), 361; there is a photograph of the gilded reliquaries on page 359.

Student observations of the Lateran – Hilary HannanJosie Moore, Kevin Boyle, Mark Hlavacik