Saturday, September 6, 2003

Report from Italia - Travelling and the City

I am currently on the train to Milano, to finally meet Fabio and Molly after a busy first week in Roma. The only available seat was in the smoking section, and I did not know it was possible to smoke as much as the two older gentlemen beside me have been and despite turning up the volume of my music, I cannot seem to block the smoke from my senses. I think it will be a long trip, but out the window I can see rolling hills, old stone houses, vineyards, fields of sunflowers and olive trees...

But what about Roma?

Yesterday at dusk we visited the property of the Knights of Malta - perhaps the world's smallest sovereign state. Surrounded by an imposing wall, you cannot go inside but are able to look through a keyhole in the main doors. Astoundingly, the keyhole offers a direct line of sight to the Vatican, as if to keep an unflinching eye on the Church. Never have I seen such a small design feature embody such history and power, and all while it limits one's gaze. Stunning. And no doubt a bonus for conspiracy theorists.

My hotel is very near to the Roman Temple of Minerva, and in a city where the Empire remains visible at nearly every turn, these ruins do not even show up on maps. We have been so busy, I have seen little else of the city and am looking forward to next Friday and Saturday when I will finally have a chance to explore. In the meantime, I plan to continue to enjoy the wonderful food and wine.

I am sharing a room with two brilliant women: Frederique (from Amsterdam) and Joana (from Lisbon) and I have never been with so many creative, intelligent and diverse people: computer scientists, architects, graphic designers, engineers, anthropologists, cognitive scientists, industrial designers and others from Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Portugal, France, Germany... It's amazing really.

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