Tiddley-Bits tea

Tiddley-Bits tea

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

{research trip to Modena}

{flying over the Alps}

I returned on Sunday from a quick research trip to Modena--where they hold the archives from the court of Ferrara (15th c). I lived in Modena 7 years ago--in fact I moved there in early January 2007...it seems like yesterday and yet so much has happened since then. I was a novice researcher--I had never used an archive before, I was inexperienced in deciphering fifteenth-century script, and even more inexperienced in figuring out what the words were saying when I did finally decipher the text...I was at the beginning of my PhD, not entirely sure of where I was going or what I was doing or how this large project was going to end up, and yet it consumed my every thought, looming ahead of me like a beast that might never be tamed...a book that might never be written. At the same time, there were so many possibilities. I was meticulous, because I had 6 months in those archives and I didn't know what I might want recorded at a later date. So I recorded almost everything I came across that had some faint relation to my thesis. Good thing I did, because my PhD thesis in the end changed dramatically, and was largely written based on what the archive provided. It was a methodological approach that ended up informing the whole thesis...and indeed, my career.
When I began archival research I thought that it was about big discoveries--finding an undiscovered letter from Mantegna, or a famous artwork by Leonardo... while these things do happen (but only very rarely & only after going through 1000s of letters that aren't relevant) what archival work is really about is the small things--finding traces and bits of info and linking them together to create a whole. It's about hard work, long work, and then some thinking... & more thinking. I take this as a metaphor for life. Life isn't always about the big moments (of course those are important too) but it's also about the everyday--the goodmornings  & the i love yous that you say every day to the people around you. It's about the comforts of a cup of tea...it's also about hard work and perseverance. & to keep with the PhD idea, it's about reading a little every day and writing a little every day to eventually come up with one very big piece of writing!

What was also amazing for me, being back, was to walk those streets of Modena, thinking of all the things that had happened since then--a written thesis, a Dr in front of my name, years of teaching, living in 4 different countries, teaching in 3 different countries & all the people who I have encountered throughout those nomadic years...and finally a permanent position in my dream city. Life has a funny way of sometimes working out for us!
that's not to say there weren't many struggles along the way!
anyway enough contemplation, I know you want to see pics of la bella italia! I ate lots of yummy food, drank plenty of wine, did loads of archival research in just a few days, and saw some sites...
I also managed to buy 3 pairs of gorgeous boots! ha!

{the archives}
{stairs leading up to the archives room}

{beautiful Modenese palazzo}

{the main cathedral (duomo) in Modena}

{Modena cathedral's spire in the background}

{the icon outside my old flat's door}

{a day trip to Bologna}


{Collezioni Communali d'Arte, Bologna}

{had a fabulous lunch here at the Osteria dell'Orsa}

{the results of a good lunch = empty bottle of vino & clean plate!}

{beautiful bologna blue sky!}

{porticoes in Modena}

{Sunday antiques market in the Piazza Grande, Modena}


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