Archive for June, 2014

Hidden in Plain Sight: Perugian Epigraphy


The entrance to Il Parma. Why did it take us 10 months to notice the inscription?

This weekend our friend and colleague, Jinyu Liu, is visiting Perugia. She is our last guest before we depart for the States. For several weeks we have been willing ourselves to pay attention to Perugia, soak in the views, and imprint lasting images in our memories.

Yesterday we took Jinyu on a walking tour of the city along the streets and paths that we have been traversing for months. The streets are the same but the views change with the light and the seasons.  Our tour took us from the Etruscan remains under the duomo, we went up to the acropolis (Porta Sole), down to the Arco Etrusco (across from the Università per Stranieri), back up along the outside of the Etruscan walls to Piazza Morlacchi, up to the Fontana Maggiore, down Corso Vanucci to the bastion at the edge of the Giardini Carducci (the views were spectacular yesterday), under the giardini into the Rocca Paolina, and finally back to Via dei Priori (with a break at Gambrinus for gelato). As we came down the street, for some reason, we decided to look up at the facade above the Parma alimentari. First we saw the Latin inscription above the door. Then one of us noticed that there were inscriptions in the window frames of the next two stories. Jinyu’s epigrapher instincts kicked in…

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No More Mondiale For Italy

20140624-203138-73898151.jpgSo I just finished watching the Italy vs. Uruguay world cup match. Italy had one win and one loss so all they had to do was get a tie to go on to the next round. We decided to go out onto the “corso” with some of our friends to watch the game. The match started out sketchy with fouls all through the first half but things didn’t really get started till the second. Almost immediately Mario Balotelli  came off for Marco Parolo which may seem like a strange decision because Balotelli is their best striker, however, he had been playing awful the whole game. The next weird thing happened in the 59th minute when Claudio Marchisio was protecting the ball with his body while making a turn (not a foul) and then the defender fell down. As soon as the defender collapsed the ref whipped out a red card and showed it to Marchisio. As you can imagine, the crowd was in an uproar. They showed the replay in slow motion and it turns out that as Marchisio was turning he hit the defender’s knee with the bottom of his cleat but 1. It was an accident and 2. clearly not a red card.

Then, around the 80th minute, the only thing that could have made the game crazier, happened. I don’t know if you guys have heard but Uruguay’s top scorer, Luis Suarez, had bitten two different players in his career and he has now bit a third. That’s right, Giorgio Chiellini was defending Suarez and all of a sudden the Uruguay player thought ” I bet this Chiellini is really tasty” and he took a bite out of Giorgio’s shoulder. Of course Chiellini erupted with anger as soon as he felt the bite and he tried to show the ref but the ref wouldn’t listen. After everyone had “calmed down” Uruguay had a corner kick to take and that’s when they scored the game winning goal, a header by the team’s captain, Diego Godin. Italy had ten minutes to score and never have I seen such a poor effort. Even Thiago Motta, who had been brought in five minutes earlier, seemed to have no energy and before we knew it the game was over.

I have to say that I was extremely disappointed in Italy’s performance during the cup. They didn’t have enough speed or touch and the only reason that they managed to beat England was that England happened to play even worse. At least Andrea Pirlo, my favorite player, always manages to keep his head.


Chiellini trying to show the ref the bite mark.

Not Going Home

Today's Gazzetta dello Sport

Today’s Gazzetta dello Sport

We are stuck in an interstice. Three weeks left. Some things are packed; some are sent home, some are still perched on shelves or snug in drawers. Micah’s at the Don Bosco centro estivo (summer camp), Jakob and Simon are sleeping and reading a lot (and, OK, also playing FIFA 14). Rebecca and I are scrambling to finish projects and produce some products. We are also trying to plan for future returns to Italy — in January for me, with nearly 40 DePauw student soccer-players, and perhaps all of us next June if we can work out a collaborative research project about Castiglione del Lago and Trasimeno. We don’t want to leave, really, but we are also ready for the transition to be over.

In a month’s time, I will no longer be looking out at the tile roofs of Perugia and mountains of Umbria; I will be back in a windowless office with only my memory to fenestrate the brown institutional carpet, dented steel bookshelves, dusty smell of final papers never collected, and incessant morgue-esque whir of an air conditioning system.

But not yet. Not yet.

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A Day in Umbria


View of Lago Trasimeno from Tuoro

Saturday we had an Umbrian day: Lago Trasimeno, Roman/Carthaginian battle site, torta al testo, a Lombard tower, an Etruscan tomb, and home-made wood-fire pizza with friends as we watched the sun set against Perugia. June 21 was the 2231st anniversary of the Battle of Lake Trasimene (217 B.C.), an epic disaster for the Romans at the hands of the Carthaginians and not generally commemorated in Italy. Nevertheless, in the morning we set out for Tuoro, the Umbrian village above the battle site (which, diplomatically, now has Lamta, Hannibal’s home town, as a ‘sister city’). From here we followed part of the battle itinerary.

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The End of School

So… school ended nine days ago but I’m writing about it now because, you know, I was on summer vacation. I deserved a bit of a break. I have to admit that the last day of school was pretty sad because I knew that I probably wouldn’t see most of the kids again.  We’re still here for another month but they have exams to worry about and I have sleeping in to worry about. No, I’m not taking the end-of-the-year exams.  As I may have said before, Italians are pretty bad at organization. At the beginning of the year, the school suggested that I didn’t need to take the exams (in fact they were worried I would fail) so I went through the entire school year not preparing to take them. Then, about five days before Summer, we got a call from the school. They were panicked. It seemed that all of a sudden they had realized I wasn’t taking the exams and they were wondering why. We explained to them that I wasn’t taking them because they told me not to at the beginning of the year but it took them a while to actually grasp the concept of how it was possible for someone who was graduating from middle school to not take exams. Eventually we sorted it out, and I get to sleep in while my classmates are studying. However, last week I got my report card and it turns out that I would probably pass the exams if I took them.


Our class photo


Forza Italia

Jakob's divided loyalties

Jakob’s divided loyalties

In two hours, Italy will kick off vs. England in the tropical rain forest city of Manaus. The game begins at midnight here. We are waiting for the minutes to tick away.

We are meeting friends at Elfo’s, a party of 10 people trying to fit into a pub that will be overflowing with fans. We were there last night for four hours with our friends from Arezzo, watching two matches (Mexico 1-0 Cameroon) and the stunning 5-1 drubbing of defending champions Spain by the effervescent Dutch team.

Jakob and Micah were both pulling hard for Holland; Jakob because he had accompanied me three years ago on a Winter Term to the Netherlands and Germany, and got to train at the KNVB, the Headquarters of Football for Holland. Micah just loves orange. Two tall young Dutch women seated on the other side of the aisle were both pleased and puzzled to see the little boy in front of them, head-to-toe in the national uniform of the Netherlands, jumping up and down with joy as Holland scored one after another in the second half.


Another goal by the Oranje

20140614-215957-79197162.jpgThe boys will be exhausted; with their friends from Arezzo here today, they went out to a local park to kick around the ball just before noon. Then it was time for lunch, so we met our Australian friends below the church of San Ercolano (which was actually open, for once, so Rebecca got to see inside, and inspect the late Roman sarcophagus holding the saint’s remains which is used as the altar of the church. What did the boys do in between munches? Kick the ball against the massive stone foundation blocks of the building. Then we had an end-of-season party for Micah’s team; the parents played a match vs. the kids at Don Bosco; and Jakob and Simon came down a bit later and they all played some more (3 more hours of kicking a ball).

You have to say that the game keeps them fit. They’ve almost beat the stitches out of our ball. It only has days to live.

So we have to make it for two more hours. It should be an even match. And while we like the England squad and the older boys have some loyalties to St. George from our last sabbatical in Yorkshire, we’re in Italy and we’re all blue tonight.

Well, except for Jakob. He’s cheering for both.

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