Sunday, 11 May 2014

It is a house

After some hectic weeks I am having more busyness – this time in Rome. The old sins need sorting out and new plans consolidating, formulating, reformulating and adapting. However, this time around I manage to slip in writing my blog that once again was not my first priority last week.

View of Villa Lante by Teresa Maria (An Amateur's Adventures on Life)

I am staying in a splendid house – a 16th century villa from where I can see all Rome at my feet. This house is Villa Lante, the Finnish Institute, where I am staying once again, since I am just on a short visit the Swedish Institute normally does not accommodate. Since the Finnish Institute celebrated around the May Day, the First of May, its 60th anniversary, it is fitting to laud the place where I have done so much work and that has supported me through the years. The directors come and go, but the house stands firm on the Gianicolo Hill and allows very different scholars and artists come together and exchange ideas. It also allows the Finns an access to the International circle of institutes and the Italian academic landscape.

I first arrived in 1990 and even if I did not expect to return soon, I have stayed here many times over these almost 25 years. I have stayed in every single scholars’ room and the director’s guest room as well. The only place I have not stayed is the director’s flat, but there is a long queue, so I may have to wait for some time. However, as long as I can return and enjoy the friendships and discussions, I can live without. Even if it would be lovely.

No, I was not there (photo by Institutum Romanum Finlandiae)

I have just spent half a week in the house at the same time as the ‘scientific course’ and heard many stories about the 60th anniversary celebrations. Now most of the students have left, but there is another course coming and other lecturers and professors to meet. I can share a glass of wine with the Oxford emerita Margareta Steinby and discuss architecture with the architecture stipendiate. It was also possible to go to the Finnish Embassy for sauna. There is not quite a house like Villa Lante elsewhere (except for the Swedish Institute and the BSR and the American Academy and... if you come from another country).

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