This was my first time in Rome so it was a great feeling to be there at long last. Ross and I didn't manage to visit much as we were held up by technical problems and lots of hanging around the gallery waiting for things to happen and to be resolved. We stayed at the Swiss Cultural Institute near the via Veneto and the villa Borghese. It is a massive 1906 villa set in a fantastic Italian garden and the view from its tower , second only in height to the top of St Peter's, is magnificent. Set below the garden is the modern gallery. Next door is an Irish Franciscan monastery and church - well it is Rome.
Part of the exhibition was in the Keats - Shelley House which forms the lower right side of the Spanish Steps so that one can look out of the room in which Keats died onto the steps. At the Saturday lunchtime reception there we met the 'great and the good' of the mainly British and American colony including Christine Melia the head of the British Council in Rome. The main opening in the evening went very well and, so different to UK openings, people were very serious about looking at all the works. Ross had composed a short piece of music for the viola which we rehearsed with a young Italian woman, Georgia Franceschi. On the Sunday afternoon she performed the work at Keats' graveside. The music, based on Keats’ last words, ‘Lift me up for I am dying…..’ was very moving.
All dinners seemed to start at 10-00 pm and finish around 1-00 am - not quite my style now! - falling into bed very tired. Maria Theresa and Jimmie were back in Rome and a had some work in the exhibition as well. So it was nice to hang out with them.
Managed a visit to the Pantheon, some churches, Trevi fountain (I guess more people go to sit/stand and look at it than go to the cinema), St Theresa of Avilla (in ecstasy) but not much else except through taxi windows.
We got back from Rome managing to nip past the ash clouds that had affected our outward journey.
david harding 17 May 2010