This week we finished our three weeks of Italian lessons, so now…— we get our mornings back (!) but miss Valeria, our teacher, and must try to consolidate what we have learned on our own. Moreover, the more we learned it seemed the less we knew; I realized I learn language from writing and reading. Then again, the Italians speak faster than I read: total run-on and hearing the words even when I was reading the text was difficult. For our final effort we sang pop songs ‘”tutta mia la citta” where the guy is crying for his love who is with “lui” –the other man. Now-to see if studying on my own will help abbastanza (enough).
For complex shopping I admit I am still using Babel fish—quite handy.
One of the painters bought 2500E (that’s $3500 US!) worth of linen canvases and when all were delivered, another fellow asked if he had performance anxiety. His answer:
“My life is performance anxiety.” And then…that he felt “a genius growing, the hubris of ambition.” I think here we are all in that state.
Two nights ago, Adele gave a lecture about the place and though perhaps we originally brought a skepticism, by the end we were amazed—how to follow in the steps of Cy Twombly, Frank Stella, Aaron Copeland, Ralph Ellison et al? Of course I notice there is not a single famous woman from the past. I am ready for a different future…
This week I finished casting—a not so difficult segue. A tremendous set of faces. I think there will be good resonances between the cast, even as the more I read about Shelley’s radical community the more I come to think of him as a cad, not even the “ineffectual angel” in Matthew Arnold’s judgment (then again I never read Matthew Arnold). Although to s’s defense, he is thrown out of college for writing a text on Atheism and in Queen Mab (his long poem) sided with the working class. I would like to emphasize that end of his radicalism, though the melodrama and romance of his love affairs and Mary’s strange tolerance of it all—a homage to her mother perhaps?—complicates making of her the feminist heroine. I will have to go back to 80 AD and Queen Boudicca, an English queen who waged guerilla warfare against the Roman invasion under Claudius. That will be my next feature, with historical costumes out of Xenia, Warrior Queen! Always wanted a bit of the kitsch of Wonder Woman in my films!
We walked last Sunday across the entire town, encountering walls popping out of houses (or rather houses popping out of walls), all the way to the Villa Borghese Gardens where we stopped for iced tea and a rest, and found the edges littered with condoms---clearly a gay meeting place in the eternal city. We walked back as the light sank in the sky. We had stopped along the way at the Church of Minerva, with an incredible Fra Lippi set of frescos---very magnificent late 1400 painting with softness and sweetness of its era. A full figure Michelangelo that is not so exceptional and has a weird almost iron looking cloth round his loins. Turns out my eyes were accurate and this bronze drapery was added at a later date. The photos show how odd it is. Then a magnificent secular bust by Bernini which is sharp and alive.
Later in the week in between casting we went to the pantheon—amazing space. I have to go when it rains — the rain falls direct into its marble interior. Built in 25BC burned and rebuilt in 75 AD, it remained until recently the largest dome shaped building expanse. Once covered in bronze (I think) plates that have been removed. We got permission to go inside the back and see a beautiful rough Madonna and child on wood from Constantinople and see the back buildings which were originally baths. The interior seems so baroque to me and indeed it has been a church for hundreds of years but one realized that the so-called classic buildings were covered with polychrome— either marble or frescos and perhaps not the sere classical buildings we think of. We also went below the plaza navona—I talked about this place earlier: the stadium---here we were among the bleachers so to speak---a magnificent setting for a play I thought since everywhere you looked were half walls that people could come in and out of appearing and disappearing. Playwrights this is for you! We also climbed the Marcus Aurelius Tower (similar to hadrian) with a great view --not particularly claustrophobic to climb but dizzying as it circled up 80 feet. At the top we were told not to take pictures to the east which was Berlasconi's palace! funny to think he told the tourists not to peek! We have an 87 year old visiting scholar who made it up to the top and followed all of us for the afternoon. She is amazing--truly an inspiration. She is a costume designer and work a place mat on her head but it was cool; later she bought a table runner from the old jewish quarter and sewed it together to be a blouse. playful and energized!
Weve been up to the roof single-framing skies and moons and clouds, including one day this weekend when there was a protest so the helicopters kept circling---annoying. usually we just see the green parrots that have escaped and made home in the park pamphilli next to us.
We’ve been doing yoga regularly and tasting gelato and eating well and cooking communally Sunday. Just to give you a taste or rather a sense of mouth-watering amazement; I cooked stuffed squash blossoms zucco di flori or maybe flori di zucco?; someone else did veal chops rare, another a piquant chicken; another a pasta with basil and fresh parmigiano reggiano. Someone else made half tomatoes with blue cheese on them and sauted sage leaves on top of that. Yummy. You should all try it!
For now—the dinner bell calls!