Friday, March 26, 2004

How Should Italy Respond to English Hegemony? (by Steve)

SIENA (#36)

Francis Alberoni wrote an article called “English Hegemony? It’s Clear in the Decline of San Remo” published in Italian the Corriere Della Sera on Monday, March 8th, 2004 and translated here in English. In it, he observes that globalization is dominated by an Anglo-Saxon civilization and the English language and argues that as English dominates, it tends to diminish the power of ideas specific to other languages and civilizations in its path. Superficially, this seems true: one might even say, obvious. At a deeper level, however, it is fundamentally flawed because it does not really reflect how cultural exchange operates in the context of competition between civilizations.

First of all, there is nothing new about this process of cultural change driven by the competition between and dominance of one civilization over another: in fact, the Latin civilization and languages that Alberoni defends is itself the result of years of cultural exchange, assimilation and domination. Consider the Etruscans. Many believe that the arch, arguably the most important contribution of Roman Architecture and Engineering was actually borrowed from the Etruscans while other Etruscan arts and language were destroyed in the process of Roman assimilation. (Apparently these were less interesting to the Roman war machine). In their empire, the Latins tolerated religious and cultural diversity but insisted in a uniform code of law and justice and military system which left it’s mark everywhere it reached, including Anglo-Saxon England! In return, Longobards, Goths and Visigoths not yet assimilated left their mark on the Italian landscape with their initial invasions as did their Carolingian and Frankish Empires. Medieval Christianity and the so-called International Gothic Style were profoundly influenced by Nordic, Celtic and Germanic traditions. In Italy, the rise of the city states culminating in the Renaissance were also affected by Asian ideas introduced during the Crusades and explosion of Mediterranean commerce that followed in its wake. Aren’t we glad we don’t have to multiply Roman numbers? And where would we be with out the zero?

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Published Notes of Monestary Architecture (by Sarah)

Sant ANTIMO and San GALGANO (#31)

See my recently published notes comparing the Romanesque Architecture of Sant Antimo with the Gothic Architecture of San Galgano.


Saturday, March 20, 2004

I Promessi Sposi - The Betrothed (by Sarah)

SIENA (#40)

In Italian class, we are reading I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed) by Alessandro Manzoni. Practically every student reads this book in school, so no is really excited about it (except that weird American student, me!) So here is just a little of what I have learned so far…

Manzoni is one of the most important Italian authors besides Dante. In the 1400’s, Dante Alighieri wrote La Divina Comedia (The Divine Comedy) This was important because it was written in the Italian vernacular and basically created the Italian language of that time. Manzoni did the same thing only about 400 years later. His Promessi Sposi was a landmark for the modern Italian language of that time, which can be compared to Shakespeare for the English language.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Dad to talk about US Politics at San Bernardino? (by Alex)

SIENA (#39)

Today, at school, my father came in to talk to my Technical drawing teacher as well as the history teacher. He was going to talk about different ways they can include me in the class. By the time he left he had agreed to visit my History class and discuss Politics!

First, my dad talked to the technical drawing teacher when I was in History class. All went well, and the teacher agreed to photocopy some things for me, so that I could study the same material they were studying, but my dad could help with the translation. This is exactly what my father and I thought I needed.

Then my dad talked to the history teacher. During this time, I had a break while some of my other classmates were in Religion class. The kids who don't study Religion go to another study type room. For the past two weeks, I have been going with them. (I didn’t really find it crucial to learn about Catholicism). On my way downstairs to get to the unused room, I saw my dad chatting with my history teacher.

Monday, March 08, 2004

English Hegemony? It's Clear in the Decline of San Remo (Alberoni)

MILAN (#35)

Published originally in Italian in the Corriere della Sera By Francis Alberoni and translated here by Stephen Quatrano

It is hard for us to admit that there is an Anglo civilization with its own language, institutions, mentality, and specific modes of thought and feeling.  It is repugnant to think that England, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA by now constitute a distinct and diverse cultural entity that dominates the global economy, science, communications, literature, film, art and music.Between the wars this Anglo-Saxon force was hidden by the huge number of European intellectuals and artists who fled the Nazis.  After the war under the same banner, one lived with the illusion that there was a universal culture and that language did not make a difference.  In fact, for a moment, French culture even seemed to predominate.  We thought of the extraordinary weight of Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Camus, Levi Strauss, Aron, Lacan, and Foucault.  And Italian Film was second in the world at the time of directors like Fellini, De Sica, Visconti, Antonioni, Monicelli, Risi, Leone and actors such as Mastroanni, Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren.

Friday, March 05, 2004

So I Decided to Start School (by Doreen)

SIENA (#34)

So I decided to start school. The kids, now well ensconced in their schools and Steve, with his website to manage, no longer had a great need for me between the hours of 9 and 1:30. So I re-started the search for a school (which I had started in Lexington).

There are 3 “big” programs –the University for Stranieri (University for Strangers—not so sure I wanted to be a “strange one”), Scuola Lingua Leonardo Davinci and Scuola Lingua Dante Alighieri. (These can all be found when doing a google search.) In addition, on the web, I saw ”Saena Iulia” which boasted small classes and student –appropriate placement/help. It is also the closest to our house - just off the Baptistry (the other end of the Duomo). Steve took Sarah to school that day – it was sleeting/raining/snowing – one of his days therefore to take her, and I had the computer/web to myself. When he arrived home, it was surprised to see me thus engaged and said, “Classes start today, let’s go check them out.” So, instead of the long shower I had planned, I dressed and we took off.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Pitigliano: A Town from Lord of the Rings (by Sarah)


Today, I was surprised again by my dad waiting in the car for me right outside school! We went through the same procedure we did when we went to Sant Antimo and San Galgano and picked up my
mom and Alex at his school. Then, we started off on another day trip to Pitigliano this time!

Pitigliano is a town half way between Siena and Rome, high on a cliff with a strong Jewish community from the 1500's.

Sarah, Carla, Steve and Alex in Pitigliano
My dad had got in contact with one of his friends from the past, Carla.  She’s from Pisa and we had her over for lunch one day. We told her about how we don’t know many Jewish people but were interested in learning more about the community. In addition, we mentioned wanting to see Pitigliano. Turns out, she actually has a friend there. She happened to be nearby there today, and so she invited us to come on down!

After the one-hour and a half drive, we finally arrived at Carla’s cousin’s house. Her name is Costanza. They were very welcoming and served us tea and crostata! Then Carla took us into the town of Pitigliano. When we first saw it, we were astounded at the location. The town was built right on top of Etruscan caves. It looked like a city that was designed for Lord of the Rings; it gave off the same feeling as Minas Tirith did. We drove up, parked, and went to meet Carla’s friend, Adrian.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Our Second 20 Days of Food (by Doreen)

SIENA (#33)

Days 11-20: Steve is becoming friends with the shopkeepers ie the meals are getting even more interesting. Read more to see what we're up to in the Dining Room.

Day 11:
For lunch, we had pasta in marina, turkey cutlets in lemon, cabbage/carrot salad (conditioned with lemon, olive oil and salt/pepper, and fruit.

Day 12:
Lunch today was great. Steve made a Ribolita –soup with black chard (cavalo nero), ceci, carrots, celery, garlic served over stale bread and stuffed artichokes, salad, salami and cheese, wine and blood oranges and apples for dessert

Day 13:
We packed a picnic lunch (a choice of scrambled egg, cheese and salami sandwiches.

Day 14:
pranzo Рrisotto with porcini, saut̩ed cauliflower with fresh tomato, chicken meat, and salad. Artichoke pasta for dinner.

Lunch was delicious. Steve made a vegetable based risotto with cavalo nero (black chard/cabbage), beet greens, and red onions with a few leftover ceci. We also had bread, cheeses (lots of varieties –like 30 or so pecorinos in the cheese section), salad, fruit and wine. We’re really enjoying the cheeses and are starting to be more concerned with getting enough fiber and fresh vegetables, though we are eating them constantly, too, ie we’re getting a little caca-centric. Aging? No just change in eating/food habits and results….

Social Life in Siena (by Sarah)

SIENA (#30)

So, everyone knows about school, and all the cool historic places that we have visited around Siena, but what do I do for fun around here? Read about my friends and late night adventures!

Il "Corso" by night
Saturdays are the big days to go out. The main thing to do on these nights is to walk on the main street – the corso. Since everyone is there, you can meet up with people and then go get dinner.

The first time I went out with my friends was after my first day of school on the 16th a Monday. I didn’t really know anyone yet, but they asked me if I wanted to come out with them. Why not!?! Roberta called me and told me the details. We were going to meet at Piazza della Posta. There were only a few kids there because it was a school night. I could tell the corso was not that busy. I was planning to go home for dinner because dad was cooking. That actually was okay anyways because they had to wait until 9 to eat because they had to wait for some classmates who were playing in a basketball game. The guys that were in our group were very funny. We walked up and down the corso for a while, talking about where to go. I talked to a lot of them about the town and school. Of the kids I was with, practically none of them lived inside the city walls. They were all very impressed when they found out I was living in an apartment in the Duomo! We talked about school, and people and just about everything.