It’s been a wonderful (almost) two weeks at the American Academy in Rome. Meta has been with me here for ten days but returns home tomorrow morning. I am here for another week.
Today we are celebrating her birthday. May Day is a national holiday in Italy and as a result most of the stores and some of the restaurants are closed today.
We have been staying in an apartment at the American Academy on the Janiculum Hill in Trastevere overlooking Rome. The fellows, scholars, artists here are wonderful company. At dinner here we have had many delightful conversations with folks from all over the United States and from other countries. It is quite a community.
This week I have been working on two writing projects: an article on Giorgio Agamben that I hope to publish as a journal article later this year and a paper on Walter Benjamin that I will present next week at the 8th International Critical Theory Conference of Rome, held at the John Felice Rome Center of Loyola University Chicago.
This week I also visited the Centro pro Unione, a major library and center for Roman Catholic ecumenical dialogue, where I met the director. It is located on the beautiful Piazza Navona. Earlier in the week Meta and I met a friend who works at Vatican Radio and she showed us around the studios there. Next Monday I plan to do some research in the Vatican Library and may also visit the Patristic Institute “Augustinianum,” a Roman Catholic Church institution of higher education in Rome responsible for the study of patristic theology (the history and theology of Church Fathers.)
Yesterday, Meta and I went shopping in Central Rome and after lunch visited the Ara Pacis, a beautiful 1st century marble altar, housed in a modern glass building on the Tiber next to the ruins of the tomb of the Emperor Augustus. From there we walked to the Castel Sant’Angelo where we picked up the bus to head back up the Janiculum to our welcoming community.