Day 3 (Sat, May 5): Orientation, Neighborhood Walk, Renaissance Sculpture

Comune di Montecatini TermeProvincia di Pistoia
ProvincePistoia (PT)
Elevation 29 m
Area 17 km²
Population ('01) 20,024
Time zone CET, UTC+1
Coordinates 43°56' 10°46'
Dialing code 0572
Postal code 51016
Patron S. Barbara, 4 Dec
I was up around 5:00 and it was raining. By the time Karen got out of her shower (she had finally figured out how that contrivance worked - to me it remained Poseidon's Iron Maiden), the rain had stopped. We took an exploratory walk during which we found a tabacchi (tobacconist - in Italy the source of many services: phone cards, bus tickets, candy, etc.), cash machine and pharmacy.

Our companions for breakfast were Dick and Edna Neal (CA), Bill and Carol McCarty (ID), Brooks and Linda McDaniel (IL).

At 9:00 we had an orientation talk from our co-coordinator Christine DeMelo (shown talking to "the other Karen" in the first photo below). After that our other co-cordinator Sabrina Berent (center photo, pointing) took us for a walk around the neighborhood. Montecatini isn't that big a place and is easy to get familiar with quickly. From the Hotel Reale (red block on the green/yellow map above) we walked up Viale Giuseppe Verdi, then back down as far as the Piazza del Popolo (the town square), then along the Corso Matteoti to the farmacia (map: green block with white cross) at via Martino and back to the hotel. There were high fashion shops everywhere -- Montecatini is the "Rodeo Drive" of Italy, apparently. As with anything new, it seemed much longer the first time we walked it.

Courtyard prior to our walk

Carousel in the park, Viale Verdi

Excelsior Spa & Concert Hall

ever-jubilant Merlo on antenna

Sunset of our first full day

Our luncheon companions included John and Susan Jewett (VT) and Kjeld and Karen Husebye (MN), and Dick and Joyce Hall (CA). After lunch we sat out in the courtyard with Joyce. Joyce is a reference librarian and an avid birder; she showed us, in an Italian bird book, that the continuously delightful singer across the street was a "Merlo" (like the wine without the 't') - it's got to be the equivalent of an English "merl" or thrush (Turdus merula). Wonder of wonders ... the sun was out!

Afternoon and Evening Lectures

The rest of the day was occupied with lectures. At 3:00 Kevin Murphy gave an excellent "double lecture" on renaissance architecture and Michelangelo. A native of Liverpool, England, Dr. Kevin J.F. Murphy has made Tuscany his home since 1997. He has taught a full-range of art history courses for several universities with programs in Florence, including Syracuse University, The British Institute of Florence (where he is academic coordinator of art history), University of Michigan and Miami University (Ohio), to name a few. Dr. Murphy's research interests focus on the Renaissance patronage and architecture. His several publications include the most recent, A chapter on nineteenth-century representations of the Italian renaissance in the first volume of Il Rinascimento É L'europa published in 2005 by the Fondazione Cassamarca, Treviso. Among his more unusual experiences was a welcome lecture in Art History for HRH Prince of Wales on a visit to the British Institute of Florence in 2002, and in that same year he was featured on a BBC Radio 3 programme conducted by Terry Jones (of Monty Python fame) entitled The Anti-Renaissance Show. Dr. Murphy earned his Ph.D. and M.A. in Renaissance Art History from the University of London's Courtauld Institute of Art. His B.A. is from the University of Essex (England) in Art History and Theory.

At 6:15 Kim Williams gave an excellent talk on Relics and Reliquaries. She is an American architect living and working in Italy. She received her degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Texas in Austin, and is licensed as an architect in New York State. She became interested in mathematics and architecture while writing Italian Pavements: Patterns in Space (Houston: Anchorage Press, 1997) about the role of decorated pavements in the history of Italian architecture. In 1996 she began the international conference series "Nexus: Architecture and Mathematics." In 1999 she founded the Nexus Network Journal to provide a dedicated venue for scholarly research in architecture and mathematics. In 2000 she founded Kim Williams Books, an independent press for books about architecture and mathematics. Kim has published many articles in scholarly journals on the use of mathematical principles in architecture, including Mathematical Intelligencer and Leonardo. Her drawings have been displayed in both group and solo exhibits. She has participated in numerous international conferences, and regularly lectures on architecture and mathematics. Her latest book is The Villas of Palladio (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2003). After dinner we had another lecture from Kim Williams, this about Leonardo da Vinci and Art. There's some more background work on Kim here.

We had a spritz at the bar before dinner. I didn't realize how localized that drink was to the Veneto; had to teach Piero-Luigi the bartender how a Spritz is made. The fine dinner featured salmon. Our dinner companions were Dick and Joyce Hall (CA), Howard Meeks (FL), and Susan Degan and Joan Rearick (both IN).

Went to bed around 9:30. I woke up again at 11:30 and about every half hour after that.