Tiddley-Bits tea

Tiddley-Bits tea

Thursday, 29 September 2016

{quotable thursdays}

Hello Blogland!
yes, I'm back in merry England after my three weeks in Napoli. This past week home has been unbelievably busy, with chairing a huge all day meeting this past Saturday...and I hardly have had a chance to catch my breath.
I have so many pictures and posts to share on Italy, I just need to find the time!
It's a pouring day today and I need to head into London to go to the libraries. I really really just feel like curling up with the cat and staying in bed all day.
So today's quote is one for rainy days but also one for life:
{rain is confetti}
Indeed, I'd highly recommend looking at life in a positive way, because if rain becomes confetti, then a rainy day becomes a party.


Sunday, 18 September 2016

{Rainy Sunday in Naples}

{the views from Villa Floridiana}

Hello blogland!
It's a very very rainy thundershowery Sunday in Naples. This morning I climbed the 1000s of steps to Villa Floridiana, a beautiful villa with breathtaking views which also houses the ceramics museum.
{walk up to Villa Floridiana}
On the way down I got caught in a torrential downpour! Now I'm holed up in the flat getting caught up on a bit of work and listening to the thunder and rain outside!
So I thought I'd share a few of my favourite pictures from the last few weeks. On Wednesday I fly home and then have a very busy end of the week/weekend with meetings, chairing debriefings and exam board related stuff...
{miniature presepi sold on a bicycle!}

{shoeshine on via Toledo}

{lovely Procida}

{charming marina on Procida}
{views of Vesuvius}

{stunning library at Museo Filangieri}

{Museo Filangieri}

{the museum of medecine}
so many more photos to come though!

Thursday, 15 September 2016

{quotable thursdays}

Hello from Bella Napoli!
Today is my dear HRH Simla's 3rd birthday!! I have to celebrate from afar, unfortunately, but my parent's friends who are staying in my house are treating her royally today.
I'm very grateful for her constant support and love and her general presence in my life!
So today it is less a quote than a hilarious but poignant image which sums up the fact that my dear Simla is my destresser in life:
{prescription for happiness}
She has apparently taken to her cat sitters and in particular has taken to sitting on her cat sitters' laps, especially Brian's who is also an academic. My Dad then made up this poem:
 There once was a cat named Simla
   Who had tastes quite particular
   If taking a nap
   On somebody's lap
   She preferred academia or similar.

I am currently sitting in my Neapolitan flat, having a glass of wine, & eating chorizo pasta, with my laundry hanging out the window. These past two weeks have been so fantastic! So much to report, but for now, you can check out my instagram for an up-to-date image narrative of my comings & goings and I'll try to do some blog posts soon!

Thursday, 8 September 2016

{quotable thursdays}

Hello Thursday!
How is everyone in blogland? Well, I've been working really really hard in the archives--still  haven't come across anything ground-breaking, but I have discovered a few things that will be useful!
This weekend, my cousins arrive! I'm so looking forward to taking the weekend off and showing them around all the sites and sights that I love!

As I'm in Bella Napoli, today, a quote from Boccaccio on the beauty and wonders of the Amalfi coast:

It is believed that the coast from Reggio to Gaeta is nearly the most delightful part of Italy. Fairly close to Salerno there is a coast that looks out over the sea, which the inhabitants call the Amalfi coast, that is full of small towns, gardens, and fountains, and men rich and proficient like no others in the act of mercatantia

-Bocaccio, Decameron, (Gior. 2, Nov. 4)
{the port at Sorrento}
{the beauty of the Amalfi coast, Positano}
a presto,

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

{postcards from italy-ciao di Napoli}

{boats + Vesuvius}
Hello from Naples!
I’ve spent the last few days in the archives. For those of you who have never done archival research before, it’s a very strange experience. I remember thinking that it would be a constant discovery—every page you’d turn you’d find some hidden gem no one else had published—an undiscovered work by Michelangelo just by turning the page! I soon realised that it was something very different. For one, the writing is often very difficult to read. I remember well my first time ever doing archival research, over 8 years ago now--when I spent my first few weeks in Modena just going over the writing trying to make sense of it. Secondly, archival research is actually often about painstaking days not finding anything…and then piecing together the tiny bits of evidence you do find…or taking down pieces of information that you don’t think are important but that might come in handy in the future. At some points, you just start taking down random things because you feel like you must make some use of your time and all your reading & deciphering!
{a little granita limone today during my break from archival research}
Even worse, is trying to navigate the archive. I spent a few hours yesterday going through the modern inventories, only to come in this morning to find that the buste hadn’t been ordered because no one knew where they were. There were call numbers that were made in the late 20th century that have now been changed, so you don’t order the number that’s listed but another one…So this morning I came in expecting to find my things waiting for me, only to discover that they were nowhere. When I asked they said they didn’t know…so then I did speak to someone who knew the archives & he went off in search. But that lost me the whole morning…
And then when the materials arrive, they just put them on a shelf, but don’t tell you. So you’re waiting for half an hour, and then you’re not sure whether they’re there, unless you keep checking. Then everyone looks at you because you keep getting up to check!
Today I found that the buste  I had ordered weren't delivered to the regular spot, but outside of the study room, somewhere else. thanks for telling me!

But I am enjoying it! When my stuff finally arrived, I managed to look through various customs registers. Fascinating stuff!
When I haven't been in the archive, I've been taking every opportunity just to wander the streets. My favourite thing to do in Naples. On the weekend, I wandered and wandered & wandered... and stopped in a few churches. A gem hidden off the normal trodden path is Sant'Anna dei Lombardi, which is still fairly well preserved and survived most of the bombing that destroyed a lot of Naples in WWII. Here you will find the amazing sculptural work of the da Maiano brothers and the breathtaking tableau by Guido Mazzoni as well as frescoes by none other than the father of Art History, Giorgio Vasari.
A few pics from my iphone--I took more on my canon but those will have to wait until I'm home and I've uploaded them on my imac.
{Mazzoni's tableau in Sant'Anna dei Lombardi}
{the fantastic Magdalene from Mazzoni's Lamentation}

{nuns chatting in the street}

{a walk to Castel d'ovo}

{San Domenico Maggiore}

{fantastic tiles in Sant'Anna dei Lombardi}

{love the votives everywhere!}

Thursday, 1 September 2016

{postcards from italy--first days in Napoli}

Hello Blogland!
I arrived in Naples yesterday morning. After a very early morning rise (230am!) I caught my plane and arrived in the marvellous city of Naples. 8 years ago I lived here for three months and in some ways it feels a bit like coming home. I’ll never feel like I’m a local, but there’s something about returning to a city where you once lived—you know the streets, the shops, the neighbourhoods. It’s fantastic!

This morning I dragged myself to the archive, which I knew was going to be a bit of an ordeal. 
The walk there was lovely-I passed old haunts, such as the church of the Gesu, piazza San Domenico Maggiore, and enjoyed walking in Spaccanapoli. 

{Il Gesu}
{beautiful diamond corrugations}
 I love doing archival research, but I hate the process. I hate asking people for things, and this is what you have to do.  My Italian is really really rusty too (let alone trying to understand thick Neapolitan accents), and trying to explain my academic research in a foreign tongue is also a bit difficult. Even worse is not knowing exactly what you’re trying to find. There hasn’t been much research done on Naples, especially fifteenth-century Naples, because a lot of the archives were blown up in WWII. It means there is much less secondary sources you can rely on, even as a starting point to start looking in the archives. My particular type of research also usually means calling up random account books from merchants in hopes that I might find something useful to my overall project. Every Italian archive is organised differently as well, so it doesn’t help if you’ve worked in one in another city—every archive is a bit different. The procedures are also all different for even getting registered and you usually have to show your passport a number of times, fill out a variety of forms, and in my case, when they ask my name they all look at me and then just ask me to spell it out. You’d think they’d never heard of Clark Kent! The other problem with the Neapolitan archive is that they’ve tried to organise it and the inventories of the archive seem straightforward, but they’re not. Although they now have the list of the inventory online, it’s not very clear from looking at it what’s actually in the different fondi.
{the archives}
{piazzetta del grande archivio}
So I arrived in good time to be able to make the 1130 order (there are select times you can order archival materials), but of course I was told to wait before I could see someone to discuss the inventories of the archives with me, and I waited, and waited, and waited (for about an hour). I was introduced as the ‘ragazza straniera’ the ‘foreign girl’—you’d think I didn’t hold a PhD & was in my teens!  And so I waited and waited and watched the 1130 order time pass before my eyes….
Finally the dottore who was supposed to help me continued to yap to someone much more important than me, and another dottore, who was very helpful and kind came to my rescue. He tried to explain how the various inventories were organised…and pulled out large inventory books that listed what was in the archive. These, however, unfortunately, were all written by hand many moons ago and then photocopied, so even though these are modern inventories, no one has bothered to print them up so that even trying to find what you might want to find in the archive proves difficult. No wonder very few people do research here!
In the end, I didn’t make an 1130 ordering, but had to wait until 1315. I’ve started with accounts of merchant-bankers. There are none surviving from the fifteenth century, but some from the very early sixteenth century, so when I finally got to sit down, I had in front of me a merchant’s account book from 1507. It’s sometimes hard to actually think that it’s THAT old… you have in front of you writing that’s rather illegible, in ink that looks old, in a book that has traces of use over time—water damage, blackened pages, etc… but it’s pretty neat, if you stop to think that you’re looking at something someone wrote over 500 years ago! On paper. And it still exists! It really makes you think what will survive of our correspondence and accounts when the digital version we use today are no longer compatible with the digital literacy of the future.
Naples is much the same, but I would say, it’s a bit more modern—some slicker cafes have opened up, but it is still the chaotic city that I love. It’s also cleaner, as when I was here there were the rubbish wars going on and nothing was being collected!

My flat is absolutely lovely—it’s in a beautiful old 18th-century palazzo, and it is tastefully renovated. It looks down onto a courtyard where numerous Neapolitan families hang their laundry from their balcony. I can hear mobile phones ring to funny tunes and people answering them with the typical ‘pronto!’…I hear babies crying, floors being washed, food being prepared. It’s lovely!
{shopping for veg}
{view from my room onto typical Neapolitan flats}

{the grand staircase belonging to my building!}
 stay tuned for more!
ps: these pics were taken on my iphone so apologies if they're not as good as my normal Canon!