Thursday, 8 December 2011

I feel as though I have so much to tell, and so few means by which I can express myself. I'm hopelessly excited with this new world I've discovered, so much less stress and pain than previously. To summarise this year, evaluate it and make changes, I will briefly list the moments that stick out above the rest. I could easily list negative experiences and those which were positive, but I'd rather just mention those which count.

The best day of the year? It's difficult to pinpoint. I have had many little adventures around Edinburgh, besides with friends and my boyfriend in Italy. The day spent in Monteriggioni and Siena :) Or walking up to Loch Brandy and having fun by the lake... More days like that are sure to come.

I've discovered the domestic goddess in me, and achieved a healthy balance between academia, socialising and self maintenance. My flat is almost immaculate and the food I make is very enjoyable, plus healthy! Founding the Italian Undergraduate society, cycling and taking time for walking, cleaning the flat and pampering, besides socialising in many forms, salsa and yoga, I am becoming more and more self-confident. I am also realising what I want from life, even if the same issues are there, I am learning how to deal with them.

Life is no longer a mad rush, sure I can get emotional sometimes, but I am content and have learnt to take things more slowly. Despite this, I am achieving even better results than I have previously. :) Life is becoming interesting again.

...And if I could make a few positive changes for the future?

1. Be there for more people, stop delaying things when good things are offered on a silver plate.

2. Attend yoga more frequently.

3. Opt for a more relaxing holiday...

4. Be even more further ahead with my subjects... That is what the holidays are for, after all.

5. Read more for pleasure during term time. No more needs to be said, just very rewarding.

6. Keep knowing that distance isn't an obstacle forever.

Monday, 28 November 2011

A few important things to consider with relative and interrogative pronouns

The relative and interrogative pronouns often cause a little confusion for foreigners, who find it difficult to distinguish especially between the usage of che, cui and chi. In order to use Italian grammar correctly, and perhaps one day elegantly, the distinction must be made. For those who study or know another Romance language such as French, it can be easy to make mistakes with little details such as pronouns.

  • Chi is commonly found in questions, and, as such, it is an interrogative pronoun. It can function as the subject or as an indirect object or object of the preposition (complement indiretto): e.g. Chi vuole giocare con me? Chi ha fatto il bucato ieri? Da chi andiamo stasera? Con chi ti sei sposato?
  • At this point, it bears much resemblance to French where the interrogative pronoun would be qui, meaning who.
  • How do we know if chi is the subject or the indirect object/object of the preposition:

1.when chi functions as an indirect object/object of the preposition, it will have a preposition before it (di, da, con, etc.).

2. the form of the verb can also be something other than the third person singular . Otherwise, when chi is the subject, the verb is always in the third person singular (see the first two examples above).

  • Chi can join with di + tonic pronoun noi, voi or loro can have the meaning Which of in questions: e.g. Chi di noi e' piu' bravo, chi di loro vuole giocare con me?
  • Chi di me (Which of me…) may be used if you’re being existential or philosophical (more likely to be observed in songs or poetry), but it’s generally used in the plural (noi, voi, loro).
  • Note that chi can also function like this as a relative pronoun: Chi di voi vuole sapere piu' puo' mandarmi un messaggio.
  • Di chi can mean whose when used to form a question: Di chi sono queste cose? Di chi e' questo gatto?
  • NOTE that if there is an antecent, you should use cui. E.g. Alessia, di cui parlo molto, le piace molto i fiori. Elena, da cui sono andata ieri, ha una casa grande. Why? Because we know who the sentence is referring to.

Chi can also be used as a relative pronoun.
  • It appears as a relative pronoun as either the subject OR an indirect object/object.
  • Chi can mean: he person who, the one who
    the man/woman who/whom
    the people/those who/whom
    someone who/somebody who
    anyone who
    (in negative phrases)
  • Chi does not require an antecedent and is often considered a “double pronoun” because it is both the antecedent and the relative pronoun simultaneously. Chi can also be preceded by prepositions in the following combinations: a chi, con chi, per chi, da chi, in chi, su chi, tra chi.
  • The major difference between cui and chi is that chi does not require an antecedent, unlike che and cui. Since chi lacks an antecedent, it usually describes an unknown person or group of people.
  • For example Devo trovare qualcuno chi puo' aiutarmi con questo compito. (qualcuno is somebody, an unknown, non specific person)
  • Alternatively, if the person was known we should use che. Voglio trovare la mia amica Rossana che puo' aiutarmi con questo compito.
  • Chi can also can anyone or whoever. e.g. Sposati chi vuoi, e' la tua vita.
  • Chi can also mean 'some' or others when used like Chi... Chi. E.g. C'e' chi vuole sposarsi, chi vuole lavorare.

Try to avoid confusing the relative pronoun che with the conjunction che.

  • 1. Che as a relative pronoun is used as a the direct object or the subject of the dependent clause: e.g. Hai trovato i guanti che volevo comprare? Hai trovato quelli che hai perso?
  • At this point Italian grammar and French grammar can be easily muddled up. In french, qui is used as the subject whilst que is used as the direct object. We could easily just presume that qui translates literally as chi, que as che, but take care!
  • 2. Che as an interrogative pronoun e.g. Che fai domani?
  • 3. Or che as an interrogative adjective e.g. Che genere di libri preferisci?
  • 4. Che as an indefinite pronoun can sometimes be used as a synonym for qualcosa di or qualche: C'era un che di strano nel bosco quel giorno.
  • 5. Che can also be used as an exclamation: Che stronzo! Che bello! Che meraviglia!
  • 6. Che can be used as a conjunction between comparatives. It is chosen over di when comparing:
    • adjectives referred to a person or thing e.g. E' piu' bello che brutto.
    • infinitives e.g. Correre e' piu' duro che camminare.
    • participles
    • nouns referred to a person or thing e.g. Ho piu' fame che sete.
    • nouns or pronouns preceded by a preposition e.g. Mi sono divertita di piu' a milano che a roma.
  • 7. Che can be used as a conjunction to introduce a consequence. E.g. Faceva cosi' freddo che nessuno voleva uscire.
  • 8. Che can introduce a subjective or object clause. Credo che non ci sia un Dio.
  • Che as a conjunction when it introduces a purpose (you must do something for a reason or to achieve a certain result) e.g. Va’ in macchina che non devi camminare fino al supermercato.
  • 9. Che as a conjunction expresses a clause, as a synonym of perche' e.g. Devo scrivere il saggio che la scadenza e' domani!
  • 10. OR che can act as a synonym for quando, expressing time. Vado a letto che il sole tramonta. Mi sveglio che il sole sorge.

Remember That in Italian relative pronouns are NEVER omitted, unlike in English e.g.

The cat that I like. The cat I bought. Both make sense right? But to make
the frase more sophisticated, we could add that, I like the cat THAT I bought.

Cat is the antecedent in English because it precedes the relative pronoun che. That I bought becomes the relative or dependent clause because the whole sentence is now required to give it meaning.

In Italian...

  • Cui and che require noun antecedents. If there is no antecedent, quello can precede che. E.g. Quello che lei ha detto era la verita'. Also cosa is used without a antecedent. Cosa vuoi da me??

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

I lay in bed last night thinking I wanted to write something down immediately, but I fell asleep and now it is forgotten. I have been a little dizzy recently, overwhelmed in plans and the prospect of intense work. I need to do a class presentation in French next week, I signed up for the first as speaking exercises make me feel physically sick, and if I do it first I won't have to think about it again, not until next semester anyway... The strange thing is that I actually enjoy all this.

Changing to languages was a very wise decision. The most thought'through idea I have had in years perhaps, every idea before that has loosely been based on potential interest. I am actually finding the homework stimulating, making full use of youtube and wordreference and enjoying filling in regularly my vocabulary books. It is so satisfying, honestly.

There are a few things I wish I could change, I am doing yoga and salsa to keep my mind at ease, the gym last year was probably a big mistake, it just made me feel that monotonous void. My new choices are relaxing, stimulating, fulfilling. The job front is still failing, I was offered a job at a lovely patisserie way out from the city centre, yet I have now had no response regarding my CV. I should have really claimed a job during the fringe. There is one thing missing which is not my responsibility now to find. Something less physical, more fluid, I promise I have done all I can. No more tears.

I will do that irregular verbs in past remote soon, I just feel like procrastinating.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Il passato remoto (the past historic)

Spiegazione, quando si usa il passato remoto?

Il passato remoto è un tipo di verbo nel tempo passato.. ed è molto remoto! Non è troppo difficile capire il concetto. Non è un passato molto vicino, parla delle cose che sono succese molti anni fa. E' molto comune per esempio nei romanzi, nelle fiabe e nelle favole. Penso che conosciate tutti frase 'c'era una volta', forse è più facile da dire in inglese, 'once upon a time'. Se vuoi leggere l'italiano però, è essenziale di saperlo. Anche alcune persone nel sud lo usano nelle conversazioni. Ma quando il passato diventa remoto? Perché deve diventare il passato remoto? Perché non cambia mai l'imperfetto?

Per capire proprio quando si usa il passato remoto, è importante essere sicuri dall'inizio che si sanno bene i verbi in tempo passato, e quando sono usati.

Voglio concentrarmi su di questi tempi: l'imperfetto ed il passato prossimo.

Da questi, capirete presto perché l'imperfetto non si transforma in un tempo più lontano.

L'imperfetto: Questo tempo descrive la situazione. Cioè, com'è la situazione, fa caldo? Fa freddo? Il clima è bello? Piove? C'è la neve? Sei stanco? La tua zuppa è fredda? Non parliamo di un evento ristretto, come un'azione, un movimento bruscio, parliamo del contesto, qualcosa che non è numerabile. L'imperfetto deve essere usato quando abbiamo bisogno di spiegare com'era qualcosa.

Ho sottolineato i verbi nella frase seguente che sono del tempo imperfetto:

C'era una volta un gatto curiosone che voleva sapere sempre tutto al mondo. Un giorno, mentre il gatto stava in una foresta, vide un leone che parlava con una pecora.

Non ha voluto sapere tutto al mondo per un momento ristretto, voleva sapere tutto al mondo! Questo significa che il gatto aveva un desiderio di sapere molto in generale, descriva la situazione. Perché questa frase è da una favola, c'è l'uso del passato remoto 'vide', terzo persona singolare di vedere. Il passato remoto ha rimpiazzato il passato prossimo perché é nel passato molto lontano da qui. Se l'imperfetto fosse usato invece del passato remoto o il passato prossimo in questo contesto, vorrebe dire, o sembrerebbe che il gatto avesse guardato la pecora per più tempo, o che non poteva smettere di guardarla. Abbiamo la situazione, il gatto voleva sapere sempre tutto al mondo ed un giorno, stava in una foresta. (Ha visto o vide' evento definitivo) un leone che parlava con una pecora. E' un po' difficile all'inizio se come me, non si ha queste diverse coniugazioni nella sua lingua, ma diventa più facile, vi giuro!

Quando ero piccola scrivevo ogni anno le lettere sempre per Babbo Natale. Il Natale scorso era bello, c'era il soggiorno (addobbarto...qualcosa già fatto) e nel camino c'era un fuoco caldo ed accogliente.

Se dicessi che lui scriveva una lettera, potrebbe significare che lui ha scritto molte lettere durante dieci anni, non era un evento particolare, ma uno dei tanti. Potrebbe essere un'abitudine, o semplicemente un modo di descrivere come era la situazione. C'era un camino, non e' stato un camino perché se no, forse un ladro l'ha rubato un secondo dopo!

Il passato prossimo

Come abbiamo visto brevemente, il passato prossimo descriva momenti, azioni, le cose che hanno decisamente finito, come questa frase. Si può ancora capire la differenza?

Ho bevuto un bicchiere d'aqua fresca. L'acqua era buona, perché faceva caldo fuori e prima ho corso per dieci kilometri senza aver bevuto nulla!

Qui, le azione sono chiare, lui ha bevuto il bicchiere d'aqua fresca, perché faceva caldo fuori, e ha corso tanto prima.

Questi eventi hanno finito. E' chiaro.

Cosa succede quando il passato prossimo è molto lontano da qui?

Deve diventare il passato remoto, almeno nei libri, se non nelle conversazione. L'imperfetto non cambia perché continua a descrivere la stessa cosa, la situazione.

Il passato prossimo diventa il passato remoto per spiegare che un evento ha successo nel passato remoto, un passato più lontano. Gli italiani non usano spesso questo tempo ogni giorno, è più importante nella letteratura. Quarda le parole in grassetto:

Come si può vedere, l'imperfetto non cambia nei libri, anche se parlano di un tempo molto remoto. E' solo il passato prossimo che deve cambiare. Sopra ci sono due verbi in passato remoto, la terza persona plurale di 'andare', per fortuna è regolare 'andarono' e la terza persona singolare di 'dire', che è 'disse'. Questo è un po' irregolare, scusatemi.

Prima di spaventarvi troppo, è meglio di imparare le forme regolari dei verbi nel passato remoto. Almeno, da lì si può capire meglio i libri e indovinare come va un verbo irregolare.

Il Passato remoto, Le regole per verbi regolari.



Per esempio:



C'era una volta, quando faceva caldo e lei andò ai campi in bici, non voleva dimenticare il sentimento, e così ebbe (passato remoto di avere-lei) nel suo giornale quello che ebbe fatto quel giorno.



Parlai con lei per un'ora, prima di mettere giù il telefono.



Alternativamente, ci sono queste terminazioni...


Penso che il secondo sia più facile?







Nella prossima lezione parlerò dei verbi nel passato remoto che sono irregolari!

Monday, 19 September 2011

It felt very surreal today attending the introductory class for Italian. In the past I would always look at language students in awe and think, 'gosh, I wish I had the will power to be one of them'. How naive I was. I put so much time and dedication into science, a subject which though interesting does not produce such immediately exciting and useful results for the average person. Languages on the other hand, though often difficult and frustrating, act as a key to another culture, another world.

So often people are under the firm belief they know a culture from having spent a long time in that place or hanging out with locals... But in what language do they speak? Most likely they use the lingua franca English. This is a grave error if you want to understand deeply a culture. Otherwise it greatly hinders your chances of getting the maximum choice of people to talk to, not everyone speaks English. Plus you get the bonus of having a whole new world of literature and film open to you.

Given the enjoyment factor and the exciting possibilities of using of a language, I feel I was very very wrong, like many British people. Language learning takes a lot of effort and commitment, but the enjoyable type, for the simple reason that progress is noticed on many levels of your social and academic life. Learning a language you might feel as if you are becoming a better person, as it teaches you a lot about other cultures and can assist greatly in providing confidence.

Honestly, I can see a long and difficult year ahead of me, I am not going to lie. The most important factor however is that I can foresee myself enjoying just about every minute of it, minus the exams and essay deadlines.

Aside from this... My lovely new flatmate and myself are now the proud owners of a couch available via couchsurfing. Within an hour of registering it I got six requests, it seems as if I am not going to be able to say yes to everyone, though we are likely to have a visitor every so often. I am the proud winner of the title 'president of the Italian society' this year. I now need to start collaborating with other societies and organising events.

Like last year, but even more ferociously I aim to fulfil my goals this year. I am doing a part-time year, which should give me enough time to balance work and play. I am desperately seeking a job to support myself, I was sure they would be in abundance but it seems quite to the contrary. I am planning on taking part with the Italian play again, but also jumping board for the french play. Aside from this there is the french and language society, and I have my own society to run. I am quite urgent to join a sports or music society, though despair at how much it costs. The fencing society is relatively inexpensive, though it costs a lot if you want to avoid having to perspire into the sweaty helmet and kit many other people have used each week. The equitation society is extortionate, the same goes for the dance societies. I really don't want to have to return to the gym as the only method for keeping fit, but right now it seems the only option. Edinburgh doesn't even seem to have enough bikes to go around.

When will I find the time to study? I better do considering I have promised myself to continue the same satisfying practice of completing and handing in coursework a week before the deadline or more, then walking around the library smugly the night before feeling rather happy with myself. I won't miss a single lecture (last year I missed one because I fell asleep at home and never woke up), I will complete exercises before they are requested and give myself enough time to read and attempt to analyse literature pieces. What a beautiful thing, to move away from factual analysis and return to the creative world of fiction!

Friday, 16 September 2011

A summer in Europe

No, there were no promised constant updates of my adventures language learning. I am not as techie as Benny the Irish polygot (, however much I would like to be. Documenting language learning can make it so much fun, especially when one can watch one's progress.

In actual fact, I did a lot this summer to complement and enhance my academic studies. Having studied ancient Rome and history of art as outside courses, I went to revisit many of Rome's ancient ruins, churches and Florence's galleries. Being in Italy of course I could just walk past architectural marvels everyday. A week in Athens and the surrounding areas gave me a taste of the ancient grand tour, whilst staying in Italy for all the summer allowed me to quickly build vocabulary and become more confident at speaking and listening comprehension. Attending the istituto italiano for a month in Florence was a great way for me to study more in depth the grammatical difficulties of the language, besides practising it in day to day life. The 2 week but more intensive Centre international de Antibes was a great starter for learning French. Being a definite elementary level in the language, it enabled me to learn at racing speed. Thank goodness it is so similar to Italian.

With regards to the two schools, whilst the Italiano Istituto was well located and the teachers were kind I would say that the Centre International de Antibes was more professionally run...

The Istituto Italiano

First of all with regards to this school, I got to study for free. Thanks to the Italian institute in Edinburgh the entirety of the course fee was paid for. I did the classic course, four hours a day five days a week. The day I arrived alongside the other new students, we were asked to do a test in both oral and grammar to assess our level. To my surprise, I was in the superior class in the entire school, C1 level. That said, the class was definitely of mixed levels. Whilst one or two had very little prior knowledge of the subjunctive (like myself at the time), others were very confident at using every conjugation. Quickly our levels became more alike, as we reviewed the more difficult aspects of the language for 'stranieri', like verbi pronominali and il congiuntivo. Aside from the very interesting speaking class on dialects and languages, I would say the main fault of the speaking classes was the lack of interesting material. If there is an interesting topic I can speak about it a lot, but debating about single parents or recycling really was not such a stimulating subject. The grammar classes on the other hand were very useful, given that I now feel I can use the past, imperfect and present forms of subjunctive, when I think about it at least!

My one real issue with the school, the false advertising. The website boasts a wide array of free extra curricular activities and cheap additional courses. I would have loved to study Italian literature and cooking but these course prices were ludicrous. There were trips to Assisi and Siena, both of which cost in the vicinity of 90 euros, again crazy when I did the same excursions with public transport for less than 20 and fit more into my day. I decided to go on a tour of the best gelaterias in the city, which turned out to be a joke. We visited three icecream parlours, which I guess had all paid commissions to the school, one of which was the widespread GROM chain, which as good as it is, can not really be considered local. My favourite ice cream parlours were not visited. I would recommended the gelateria neri and fiorentina, cheap considering normal Florentine prices.

The positives, the school was located in the centre right next to the duomo. The staff spoke ONLY in Italian providing a handy immersion and the teachers were very kind. The class sizes were perfect for the first two weeks, 6 people in the class but for the last two weeks rose to 12, too many for an expensive language course I think. The school provided the text books and the notepads, another helping hand. Florence, however touristy it is, is a very beautiful and culturally rich city. Not only that, it is perfect for a central base to explore Tuscany and surrounding areas like Liguria, Umbria, Lazio. One of my favourite days of the summer was spent in the Chianti region with my boyfriend, we went to Monteriggioni and Siena. Monteriggioni is an obscenely cute little medieval hill town, crowned with towers with have unfortunately been damaged. It is less touristy than many other towns like this in Tuscany and surrounded by the famous green rolling Tuscan hills, dotted with vineyards and little idealic farm houses. It is also mentioned by Dante in his Divine Comedy:-

'As with circling round
Of turrets, Monteriggioni crowns his walls;
E’en thus the shore, encompassing the abyss,
Was turreted with giants, half their length
Uprearing, horrible, whom Jove from heaven
Yet threatens, when his muttering thunder rolls.'

After our little mission to Monteriggioni we continued to Siena, city of panforte, the annual horse races (the Palio), and home to a wealth of art and beautiful winding streets. We ate good and cheap pizza whilst enjoying the local atmosphere.

I would love to write in detail about everything I did in detail, but there really is no time. I spent three and a half months away without really writing very much, it was weird, but I felt like neglecting English partially for a bit. Instead I arrived yesterday at Edinburgh airport, and felt a somewhat pleasure in hearing English. I quite like my language really.

Centre International d'Antibes

Issue before I even got there; I booked the trains to arrive there from Italy a day too early and a day too late, due to wrong information from the school. The secretary seemed very angry and said my accommodation was not available then. I rescheduled my trains with the idea in my head I would miss lessons, when I got there it turned out I wouldn't, and they refunded my for the trouble. I was doing the intensive course and the complication was that not enough people signed up to do the intensive weekend courses, so at the last minute they cancelled, and with that my accommodation! I suppose the service at the school after that more than made up for it.

My course was intensive, for two weeks. 30 hours of lessons a week made the structure of the day very much like school, studying from 9-4, though the lunch break was big. Like at the istituto italiano, we did a test on the first day, though unlike the istituto italiano the school took the trouble of taking us on a tour of the city in a coach. My level came out very mixed, due to Italian, I came out at level A2/B1 for the grammar exam, for the oral exam it was a different story. I felt like a rabbit in headlights and barely said anything in response to the little french I could understand, and having just come from Italy, I used too much Italian when speaking french. I got a level A1 for oral! I studied at the port for over three hours in the morning, and walked up the hill to the chateau in the afternoon for a two hour class. The morning classes for the first week were very very good. There were only 5 people in the class including myself, and the teacher provided interesting and various activities. She encouraged oral contribution even from people like myself who had never spoken in Italian before. For the first three days I still felt like that bunny caught in headlights, but after that it became a lot easier and I started to feel more confident that I could learn the language, plus I could understand a lot more. The afternoon classes were absolutely superb, I had the most amazing language teacher ever and the classes were VERY small, 3 people for the first week and only 2 for the second week. We never did the same exercise twice, we played games and I never once felt like I was being rushed. Whilst struggling to speak, the teacher put herself in a relaxed position which made it feel like we were having a slumber party and I was telling stories and gossip to an excited audience. Although the quality of the morning qualities decreased in the second class, the problems being a class of 12 people that was too big considering our level, and a teacher with an old fashioned teaching idea which drove all of us crazy. She was the complete contraire to the wonderful afternoon teacher, she looked impatient for you to finish and often interrupted, she provided activities way too high for our level and constantly handed out lifeless work sheets which we could have done in our own time. That said, by the end my French was still so much better than it was when I started. I feel now confident to form full sentences, use comparatives and express myself even if I didn't know the right word. I came away with an unofficial A2 certificate, though the teacher assured me I was more than capable of receiving that certificate.

Antibes was not my favourite place on earth, but it served as a warm and comfortable place to study. Breakfasts each morning were extroadinary, warm from the oven croissants and pain au chocolats with good coffee. The nearby hill town Saint Paul De Vence was absolutely beautiful, and the sea was very tempting.

My accommodation was another story however. Castel Arabel, affiliated with the school and offering cheap accommodation to students, was very beautiful as a building with a nice clean pool. Horror stories quickly leaked out however. There was a rat sighted several times in the very dirty kitchen and many reports of theft in bedrooms. Two girls were robbed of all money, passports and valuables one night whilst sleeping, the scary aspect is that these things were right next to their heads. It is a shame given the nice location of the place and the atmosphere. Evenings were always enjoyable, meeting friends on the terraces and speaking in English, Italian and a splash of French.

Summer is over, I am back in Scotland and preparing to start university. It has been a very useful and fun experience though. I miss the heat, the language, the landscapes and the food. I became addicted to peaches there... Yesterday I bought one here and it was just not the same. Tomorrow I will buy a bike and tonight I will order all my books. The temperatures are around 12 degrees celcius which is way too cold considering I was recently in Italy where the temperatures were always above 30. It is raining to, I haven't seen rain for a long while.

I have a feeling I will post more here soon. Cold weather makes me want to write, I suppose this is a positive thing, as I absolutely must be ready to start hardcore essay writing again soon.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Why is the first thing I write, every time I write this blog, 'such a long time', 'apologies, I have been too busy to write'? During the initial days of summer I imagined and indeed expected a detailed, almost daily account of my travels, an exploration into language learning and daily reflections. I was apparently mislead by the vacuous transition between the end of university and travelling.

I should have kept up writing, peut-être. My mind now is at a strange decisive moment, I think in both Italian and English, especially for the mundane thoughts that glide through my mind every day. My intense french studies have not been so intense, though with the little that I have done I have remembered a rather large chunk.

I passed a rather enthralling month in Florence, though the tourists from time to time brought me down. The course was not so intense, though enough to teach me much of the Italian language. By the end, I at least could conjugate subjunctive verbs in the present, past perfect and imperfect tenses. I came away with a certificate evidencing that I am at a C1 level. Florence was a perfect base from which to see other Tuscan beauties which in the past I have only skimmed the surface of...

Monteriggioni, a Chianti site referenced in Dante's the divine comedy, a beautiful medieval hill town, 20th birthday spent in the medieval hill town San Gimignano with my parents and boyfriend, a fresher look at Siena, tanning on the coast at Califuria with it's crystal clear waters near Viareggio, cycling around the walls of Lucca after spending time with fellow classmates who were working abroad, viewing the Roman and Etruscan ruins in Fiesole and seeing Florence from the high hills there, drinking Chianti wine whilst looking out at the vineyards scattered across the rolling landscape. I also had the pleasure of visiting Umbria, Asissi for narrow, quiant alleyways embellished with flowers and tiny indications of religious faith in Jesus, strangozzi al tartufo e funghi porcini (long pasta with truffles and mushrooms) in a trattoria with an amazing views of the mountains, green and forested, onto Perugia for the quirky means of transport for entering the city, technology in the minimetro and escalators which bring you back in time to a hill city which hasn't changed much aesthetically, apart from the temporary jazz festival which gave the city an absolute buzz, beside the obvious eyecandy in the area!

In Florence itself I enjoyed visiting gli Uffizi, I need not say more, Palazzo Vecchio, i giardini di Boboli, watching the last Harry Potter film in English with Italian subtitles, discovering where the best gelaterias and vegetarians restaurants were.

Now comfortable in Cremona, I can't provide a long list of the activities I am doing constantly, because I am living life in a manner more Italian I guess... Well, more like my boyfriend. I have completed pokemon nero in Italian, got a little done in the way of French, plus learned the basic regular conjugations of past historic in Italian. I had lunch at the english teacher's house on a terrace adorned with flowers and typically Italian with grape vines above us, an afternoon at the medieval town Soncino in the province of Cremona, with it's well preserved castle and eery torture chamber, another hidden jewel from the tourists who don't dare to tread beyond the confines of Florence, Venice, Rome etc.

My very inexpensive train is booked for France, which means i guess that I should learn the imperfect tense and a little more vocabulary during the next two weeks. I honestly cannot believe how quickly this summer is passing, at least I have not got a hell to return to eventually, Edinburgh is a beautiful city and I am sure my new flat and flatmate will make it all the better. That said, I could easily go on living this continental lifestyle forever, thanks to the sleep, the food, the surplus sunshine and the wee bit of peace.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Lingue, amici, temperatura calda, greek rather than turkish delights and the eternal city...

Yes, it has been almost a month since I have written anything. I believe a month of insect bites, sunburn, hot afternoons sightseeing and flights, train and bus journeys has finally resulted in the peak of my month-long illness. Today I woke up with a backache, headache, dodgy stomach and fever, and that dizzy sensation where you feel 3 inches higher than you actually are!

Rome was amazing, after repeating all the tourist sites, slightly more knowledgable than I was when I was eleven and fourteen, I took great pleasure in exploring the old vintage bookshops full of dusty hardbacks, watching a jack sparrow look alike dressed in full atire running off with Maki's hat, eating gelato at every occasion, finding myself capable of informal conversational skills in Italian. Italy is far more interesting when you know a little of the language! The last day in Rome was spent lying on a bench in the pantheon, watching the clouds from the open circle at the top of the dome, strolling around the centre and local neighbourhood area of our hostel, and dreading leaving Rome.

We 'slept' at the airport the night before setting off for Athens. There was an intense storm in the early morning which kept me awake for most of the night. I drank coffee, listened to french dialogues on my ipod and watched the people coming and going, whilst listening to the thunder. Six days in Athens was certainly enough, especially given the current protest campaigns occuring in the city because of the financial situation at the present time. The first taxi driver was pleasant but uncomfortably blunt. He asked us how long we were spending in Athens, after our reply of 6 days he said "six days is too much! I hate Athens, one day would be enough". Of course, I asked why, "People just drink and sleep all day, they are lazy, the city is too busy. I hate Greece". I soon discovered this was the general opinion of the public. A taxi driver even shouted abuse at me for asking for the fair price, to reduce what he said to something more tolerable and polite "what the ***, you english come here and expect a 5 euro trip, what the ***". I hastily got out of the damn taxi and found someone more fair. That said, the ruins themselves were spectacular, the temple of Poseidon (I met Poseidon himself there in the form of a tortoise), Delphi, Agora and the parthenon standing out as highlights. Contrary to what I expected, Greece is not ideal for vegetarians and the diet is not that diverse. The baklavas were too sticky and sweet, as was the coffee. I found Italian restaurants there to be more appealing. For veggies, there is Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts and greek salad with feta. For vegans there is... fruit :( The climate was almost unbearable, though it did allow me to return to the hostel and rest in the afternoons, a luxury I never feel need of when in Scotland.

The sea in Greece is beautiful, the land a little too arid for my liking and the people a little too pessimistic. I would love to return to visit the Greek islands, just at a time when Greece is more prosperous. The day we left there was a strike so we had to take a taxi instead of the bus or train. This time, I was relieved to return to Italy though having enjoyed my short time there for the most part.

The final day together with Dorothy and Maki was spent travelling; Athens to Rome in the early morning, pasta for lunch in Roma prior to taking the express train to Milan. There I left the others and met up with Roberto. Together we took the more familiar train to Cremona. I was to return to Milan the following day to meet up with the others after Robbie's english exam. How I was happy to be back in North Italy! I certainly enjoyed the previous two weeks, but for once in my life I had need of something comfortable and familiar. We briefly strolled around the university of Milan, the duomo square and Castello Sforzesco, ate pizza and said goodbye. Fortunately Maki was to stay with us in Cremona the following night, she got a taste for the city and Italian life before heading back to Milan, to continue with her travels in Northern Italy. I was pleased to hear that Dorothy's aupair job was going well, the family were nice and it seems she's going to have a lot of great opportunities handed to her on a golden plate. I have spent the last two weeks lazing, watching movies, eating good food, studying French and Italian, baking Norwegian and English traditional cakes, walking and cycling. There are fireflies near here and last night there was a massive storm, an exciting spectacle, especially when the lights are all turned off. Yesterday I also went the province of Como and met up with a university friend of Robbie's.

Over the last few weeks I have also been reading a lot, I finished l'etranger (in English, I don't know enough French...yet!) which was beautiful until the end, an unpredictably tragic ending. I have been working my way through classic fairytales, finally got round to reading crime and punishment and am currently reading il gattopardo (the leopard). I was disappointed to find my Italian couldn't stretch to reading the book in its original language, so I am reading it first in English. There are elaborate descriptions of the vivid life in Sicily, and the events surrounding the unification of Italy.

I have another recommendation for fellow language learners, buy pokemon for nintendo DS in your target language! I feel I have effortly learned sooo much and became faster at reading in Italian, having Pokemon Nero for nintendo DS. It is dangerously addictive, so take care. I should do the same with French really, for now I am still working on the present tense...

I need not say that which I enjoyed the most. ;)

Friday, 27 May 2011

So I'm finally beginning to tackle the subjunctive, it has been a while...

So what is the subjunctive? To put it simply, it is a verb tense which suggests a certain degree of uncertainty. In English, it's very rarely used. We have 'be it' but use it rarely. A common use of the subjunctive in English is 'If I were you'. This exists in Italian, 'se fossi in te'. 'Fossi' may strike those, like myself until recently, as a surprise. Why not 'Se ero in te'? Because Romance language like Italian like to keep this tense very much alive. Unfortunately for English speakers, it means another set of verb conjugations to learn if we don't wish to sound like a moron.

So when to use the subjunctive? I have already mentioned uncertainty, but what context infers uncertainty? For starters, phrases which begin like this probably call for the subjunctive:-

Credo che... (I believe that...)
Suppongo che... (I suppose that...)
Immagino che... ( i imagine that..)
E' Neccesario che... (it's neccesary that...)
Non vale la pena che... (it's not worth it that...)
Penso che... (I think that...)

Can you see that all of these are slightly dubious phrases? It can express hope, fear, possibility. Penso che sia buono. (I think that it's good). It is very easy to get it wrong and think it could be used in place of the conditional. It can never be used to convey the same meaning as the conditional. Penso che sarebbe buono. (I think that it would be good).

There are also some linking words which are never present unless attached to a subjunctive verb, such as malgrado, nonostante, sebbene (despite/although).

Starting with regularities, it always makes you (and to be honest, myself) feel more confident.

ARE verbs

Example: Parlare

Io- parli

So as to retain knowledge and not just replace every acquired tense with a new one, I find it most useful to compare the different tenses continuously. The rule for imperative verbs for example, requires a slightly opposite approach:-

Whilst with the subjunctive -ARE becomes I, with the imperative ARE is also an exception to the rule, as the informal and formal forms of the verb mix up, i.e. LEI conjugations become TU and vice versa. So instead of the way we'd address a professor in a statement-> Parla lentamente prof! (you speak slowy=statement) we say Parli lentamente prof! (speak slowly! imperative!). In the opposite case, if making a statement to a friend->Parli lentamente. (you speak slowly) --->becomes> Parla lentamente! If using an IRE or ERE verb which is irregular when imperative, thankfully it does not do this and maintains the normal method of conjugation, though obviously with more intonation E.g. Rimani con me (you remain/stay with me). Rimani con me! (stay with me!).

The three endings are so much easier when they stay the same, though it would seem for many tenses they like to part ways, even when conjugated regularly. Take the future and conditional tenses. Whilst -ARE and -ERE take an E before each ending such as Prenderò (Prendere, future first person singular), Lascerò (Lasciare, future first personal singular) whilst here -IRE decides to be the stubborn non-conformist one: Partirò (Partire, future first person singular). In past perfect tense -ERE gets a turn to be oh so rebellious, Credere (ho creduto) whilst -ARE and -IRE verbs are usually predictable: Sono andato (Past perfect, andare) and Sono uscito (past perfect, uscire). Naughty endings! Conform!

Back to the subjunctive, we can see that for the first three singular forms of the -ARE verbs take an i at the end if regular. Now let's take a look at -ERE and -IRE.


Noi-Crediamo (at least NOI and VOI know the subjunctive law!)

Example-Pulire (keep in mind that this is one of those verbs, like finire and capire which takes on SC... It keeps it with the subjunctive but keeps to the subjunctive rule)


Right, I shall start on irregular subjunctive tomorrow!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Michel Thomas method

So desperately in need of reviving my long dead French, I headed to the local library to pick up some beginners level books and audio CDS, and by luck came across the 'Michel Thomas method', a two hour audio CD which loudly proclaims on the box 'No memorising, no writing, no reading'. For someone who loves grammar, this did not sound so appealing, even if the 'no memorising' was tempting, beside a little unbelievable. After all, learning involves memorising things, right? I have heard good things about this course and have been recommended it by various forums, even if I was a little sceptical. Whatever the outcome, I appreciated that any spoken French would be invaluable in building a strong foundation for listening and speaking skills, two of the hardest skills for new linguists.

So what makes this distinct from other methods? Michel Thomas is a polygot originally from Poland, who lived in France, Germany and the United States. He continuously emphasises his main selling point: 'there is no such thing as a bad student, only a bad teacher'. True I guess, even if some students do make teaching difficult! Initially, Thomas talks through the basics using repetition as a means to make us learn. There are two students, a female and a male whom he asks to repeat certain words, and gradually he asks them to construct larger more complex sentences, whilst instructing them on every occasion 'stop trying to remember!'. The students are (most likely purposefully) quite atrocious, the man pronounces the more soft mangER with a strong, very intrusive AY sound, like in the English word SAY. The lady did not seem to be able to grasp the difference between AVEZ vous and AVEC. This deliberately atrocious French was however an intelligent and well considered device, by hearing many errors in comparison to the correct French of Michel Thomas, I am sure ANYONE would be able to say the words as they are supposed to sound.

Another positive aspect to this method, the teacher is constantly very calm and assuring. In the first five minutes, he speaks of a French writer who came to England and read an English book. The writer was surprised to see so many 'French words' and announced that English was just French incorrectly pronounced. Thomas then adds that it's no surprise, given that at least 60% of our vocabulary is from French (due to the Norman conquest, no?), meaning that we already know many French words. Of course, this is a rule which is invaluable to a linguist, and means we need not learn everyone of these similar words individually, we just need to know the rule. This applies to all the romance languages. E.g. English: Station French:station (with a different pronunciation). Italian: Stazione. English: Philosophy. French:la philosophie Italian: la filosofia. This I can imagine would make the learning process a lot less daunting to complete beginners, or those scared of long long vocabulary lists (Vocabulary, Vocabolario, Vocabulaire).

Without directly explaining grammatical rules as being grammatical rules, he manages to make them concrete in your mind. After an hour (more like half an hour given the amount of jokes and gaps) you do feel like you could construct a few useful sentences. You also feel able to conjugate the simple verbs 'faire', 'venir', 'manger', 'passer', 'vouloir', 'savoir', use masculine and feminine definite and indefinite articles and construct positive and negative sentences. Pretty good, considering that it felt effortless and really, I didn't feel as if I tried to memorise the words. It was very relaxed and thus an comfortable learning atmosphere. I would however suggest that for a speedy learner this pace would be too slow, even if I thought the two slow students helped in the learning process; the more errors they made the more concrete the correct construction became. Another slightly negative aspect, though a very good teacher, Michel Thomas' English pronunciation was not optimum, and thus I worry slightly for his French. That said, he is teaching the basic and at least saying the words as they should be said, in terms of the phonetic pronunciation. The real strength of this method is the gradual construction of sentences, without being thrown into the deep end with too much grammar to keep up with at square one. For a beginner, it provides a useful and informative way of getting to grips with the rules of the French language. I look forward to trying out a slightly higher level Italian programme as well, besides also testing the pimsleur method, another much raved about language learning programme.

If you are interested, take a wee look here:

Given the price, I would not pay for it as there as so many free resources out there, but every library I have been to seems to have a copy. Think of all the time you could spend wasting time in traffic when you could be learning a language!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

So my language learning is going well, though it does not yet seem likely to reach my goals by the end of the summer, so need to get a move on. Due to the inconsistencies of French pronunciation, I have put considerable effort into listening to French on Youtube, CDs and music with subtitles in order to get a clearer idea of how to pronounce words. As for Italian, I'm trying to read some books and I have a new idea to try and write a diary in Italian AND French every day. I can never start making errors in the latter until I actually try and write something, even if I barely know any verbs! It will be a good method to acquire some vocabulary. Of course, the French 'diary' will begin with basic phrases, hopefully some day I will instead write about philosophical thoughts, gossip and be able to express myself, even if through a less expressive medium.

One week til Rome, three months in Italy and just over two weeks in France; I'm so unbelievably hyper, titillated one might say! It has been so cold here in the past week; I continuously shiver and reynaulds has effected me in a harsh manner, the climate has been inconsistent and by and large, unsympathetic. I am sure the 'zanzare' will feel in an equally charitable mood when I set foot in Italia very soon... That is to say, IF I do. Edinburgh airport is closed thanks to another large gust of volcanic ash blown over from Iceland. BE OPEN next week.

Aside from holidays and languages, I watched a film today entitled NEDS. The film takes place in some dodgy suburb in Glasgow, where a bunch of NEDS get involved in gang crime. It is a film which really shows to the audience scenes of social realism, stabbings, alcoholism and drug abuse. It also conjures up the atmosphere of a place that seems so full of hopelessness, we could associate with the french idea of enui. To those who do not know what a NED is, I suppose the closest equivalent I am familiar with is the chav. NED stands for 'non educated delinquent', obviously a derogative term for those in lower classes who never had access to a proper education, or just became involved in rebellious activities and gang culture. Despite having said that the film tackles a high degree of social realism, I feel very much that it highlighted the wrong motives as to why someone would take up a life like this. Though coming out with some scenes of extreme brutality, it was somewhat unbelievable that the protagonist became entangled and so engrossed in this lifestyle.

That said, go see it. If you are not an English mother tongue (or even if you are...), you are likely to encounter some difficulties understanding the thick Glaswegian accent which is in just about every other scene. This is a reason for which I would compare NEDs with Gomorrah. Also, like Gomorrah, NEDs is not really a film one would watch for pleasure. Rather, it is a film we are compelled to watch through curiosity, with hope of a real but safe glimpse into another social context.

Ora un po' di pratica...Maintenant un peu de pratique.

Cher lecteur,

ça va? ça va très bien, merci. Je m'appelle Elizabeth, e toi? Comment tu t'appelles? Qui est ta mère? Ceci est ma mère. Elle s'appelle Jacqueline. Ceci est mon père. Il s'appelle Jonathan. Mon amie s'appelle Klara, tandis mon ami s'appelle Roberto. Qui sont'ils? Sont mes frères, ils s'appellent Mark et Craig. Sont de Payes de Galles. Je suis anglais, signifie que je suis de l'Angleterre. J'ai dixneuf ans. Tu as quel âges? Qu'est ce que c'est chose en anglais ou italienne? A thing o una cosa. Aujourd'hui, je fais mes devoirs per les langues français et italienne. Je ne suis pas allè à l'université parce que elle est fermé.

C'est un chien, comme en italienne, le mot est masculin. Cependant, le mot 'mot' est masculin en français (un mot), à moin que en italienne, ou est un mot femelle (una parola).

Quel dommage que les mots ne sont pas le mêmes! Infatti, sarebbe molto più facile per noi! Communque, penso che dopo tre mesi, poterò fare qualche frase semplice, ma con una grammatica corretta. Penso che la conoscenza della lingua italiana (anche se molto limitata) e il fatto che studiavo il francese quando ero più giovane mi aiuteranno. Ho molto tempo comunque, e posso divertirlo con i film, la musica (questa mattina ho cantato 'la complainte de la butte' in francese, ma anche 'scale e arpeggi' dagli aristogatti in italiano, sembra decisamente come un buon modo da imparare una lingua).

à bientôt!
Ciao, mon petit chou! SI AMO questa espressione =)

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

One more day of doom and gloom, a morning of suspense and anticipation and probably two more sleepless nights...

Then I will be free. Strange concept, freedom, and four months of it. I seriously can't wait for this to be over!! In one day I've made an attempt to cover the renaissance period and about 800 years of Islam! Whilst ensuring I'm keeping in my head for information for early medieval and Netherlandish. It's crazy.

Still, studying certain aspects is making me excited for studying them in my own time, avoiding the boring bits and skipping to the best bits. Fresh on Roman, medieval, and baroque history will certainly allow me a slightly more knowledgeable trip to Italy this summer, Florence and in the North. That said, I can't imagine myself ever taking the role of a pretentious art historian, explaining to people about the personification of justice, the attributes of tridents or the much debated theories of symbolism. If I know a fact sure I'll comment on it if asked, but why intellectually masturbate yourself for the sake of it? Yes after studying history of art, I've grown to realise how much bull*** goes into history of art, well, I knew it anyway but having not studied it would have been called ignorant. To say that is only for a very, umm...elite circle.

I can't wait to start learning French and have the time to better my Italian, foreign films, books, a bit of Wikipedia. To sleep in late without guilt will be a nice experience. I'm going to bake some bread so good that it will probably break my mum's diet (not difficult I confess), watch doctor who and enjoy reading a very inconsequential novel. Very good motivation indeed.

Bring on the day after tomorrow (here we should adopt an Italian word, dopodomani, it would save precious time, unlike I'm doing here).

Anyway, off to bed to do yet more cramming.
I look forward to a peaceful night of sleep, I really really do. If you can sleep well at the moment, you're very very lucky. Count yourself lucky.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Potential essay questions

Yes, another return to accademia. To those who have long ago stopped reading and who are returning for a glimpse, or if you are on the brink of leaving, please, stop! Exams finish 20/5/11, so from then I will be back to reviewing, rambling, talking about languages, travels, showing you photos of things from my personal world.

For now, I want to discuss and consider potential themes for essay topics, not including those which have already been integral to essay questions. I'm also ditching Chinese art and Baroque, not for the key image study, but instead for the in depth lecture learning. Chinese, not because I don't find the work beautiful but because I thought the lectures were disorganised and I feel I too much lack the background to study it, including aspects of Chinese philosophy, religion, ideology. Baroque because, with some exceptions, I find it not to my taste. Thus I will be studying in depth Early Christian, Islamic, Netherlandish and Italian renaissance.

Potential themes.

Semester 1.

Early Christian

The development of the artist

Nicola Pisano. Classical virtues in Pisa baptisery, inscription tells us artist appreciated himself as a highly skillful artist.

Giovanni Pisano. Son of Nicola Pisano. Also inscribed works refers to himself as the best artist that had ever been, that would ever be.

Also signs of artist recognition-Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.

Renewed Interest in antiquity, triumpth of the old over the new, bringing forth a new cultural identity whilst preserving the past, continuity. Also other themes including church authority.

5th century Jerome, interest in restoring antiquity.

-Increase of pagan elite, converting to christianity. Church gains more riches and capital.
-Casa dei Crescenzi, by Nicola Crescenzi. Spolia, for house.
-313-edict of Constantine. Tolerance toward christianity throughout empire.
-Major church building phase, Constantine builds St John the lateran, the basilica of Constantine, old st Peters. 4th century. Spolia used in buildings.
-Arch of Constantine-models himself upon better considered emperors Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius and Trajan. Use of spolia, continuity and yet triumpth of Christianity over past.
-figural representatives and Christ and related figures appear e.g. Mosaic of Santa Pudenziana late 4th century (site of previous 2nd century house of Pius), sarcophagus of Junius Bassus (baptised on death bed, Roman elite who died Christian-relief suggests triumph of christianity over paganism, christ being held up by Caelus, god of the heavens).
-Late 4th century, Paganism banned. Conversion forced, cryptopagans existance likely. Christianity made official religion
-Under Theodosius, christianity made state religion, last ruler to rule over eastern and western halves of empire.
-6th century Goth raids in Rome, emperors instead in Ravenna and Constantinople. To Christians-sign of sins and too much tolerance of paganism.
-incoporated pagan symbols, void of meaning.
-6th century Justinian, byzantine Ravenna-Maximian added Justinian panels, empress theodora opposite.
-Sant'Appolinare-Theodoric 6th century Ravenna.
-darker hughs, more solemn time? Repenting for sins of the past. Pope became a more prominant figure, sign of hope and redemption. Santa Cosma e damiano, Pope Felix IV. Donated portion of temple of peace and library to Pope. Depicted as a favour.
-Parousia, common and popular theme, repeated centuries later 9th century Santa Prassede also in Rome. Now Pope has a square halo, connecting him to earth=mediator. Representing the people. Pope Paschal I.
-Common theme, also same composition at Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. Both these 9th century mosaics use Spolia, as told to use by Titelus.
-Portunus temple 9th century and pantheon (now st Mary and martyrs, previously Julius Caesar) 7th century-rededication.
-pagan elements still used, though lifelike depiction replaced with need to evoke the immaterial. Flat images, encrusted with jewels, evoking bible to the illiterate. Other worldly.

Theodoric king of the Ostrogoths-pillaged spolia from Rome, took it to Ravenna. Sant'apollinare.

Charlemagne 8th-9th century -Carolingian king, King of the franks. Augustine coin. Bronze statuette, similar to 2nd century Marcus Aurelius statue. Globe, world domination. Given pallium, depicted with it in lateran by Pope Leo III. 800, declared holy Roman emperor. Pillaged spolia from Ravenna and from for his palace chapel at Aachen. Lorsch abbey, capitals similar to those in time of Septimus severus, 3rd century. Aachen, bronze door, door knob reminiscent of bronze Etruscan she wolf. Main shape of dome based on San Vitale.
Period also known as the carolingian renaissance.
-Einhard-biographer of Charlemagne, also artist. Base of a cross, triumphal arch sketch but replacing idea of emperor with ideology of christian empire.
-major period of translation of old texts
-Same aspirations. Testiment to greatness of roman empire, that so many intellectuals during the middle ages wanted to emulate it.

11th century so called lothar cross of emperor Otto 3rd
Spolia, cameo of Augustus (with eagle) and intralgio of Lothar.
-eagle and augustus retranslated to mean christ. Amathysts, emeraulds, saphires, spolia from previous empires. Succession of a whole over componant parts. Cross, as described by Constantine. Jewell encrusted.
-at aachen

12th century Casa dei Cascenze
Spolia, house in Rome built near ruins.

12th century
eagle vase of abbot Suger of st Denis.
-Porphyry amphora from ancient Egypt or Rome.
-wings, head and claws of an eagle added-gold-revelations-celestial city built of gold and jewels. Evokes Christ.
-Purple or porphyry used to be considered an imperial colour to Romans.
-Now blood of Christ?
-Eagle-empire, set free during apotheosis of a well considered emperor.
-Now eagle=Christ-thus Christian empire.

Ambrogio Lorenzetti-13th century.
Allegory of a good government.
Civic scene, fresco, classifying images and drapery.
-roman civic position-again testiment to continuity, civilisation based upon Ancient Rome.
-Christianised, angels.
-promising securitas, this is what you'll get if you're faithful and good citizens.
Frescos popular in Siena.

Nicola Pisano
baptisery, Piso pulpit.
Clasical virtues. Marriage of gothic and classical. International gothic arches, classifying image of fortitude. Inspired Michelangelo's David, Bacchus in 16th century.
-inscribed work, appreciation of skill.
-his son giovanni also inscribed a work 'highly skillful' no mention to artistic creativity or personality.

Frederick II-Coin in style of Augustus, Cappuan gates, statue of self, likeness to 1st century statues of Jupiter. Busts-immortality. Castel del monte-classical and contemporary influences-sought eastern influence. 13 century king of sicily, crowned as holy Roman emperor.

Next to plan...


Artist as an individual

Increasing naturalism-the importance of sight

Albrecht Durer

The Ghent Alterpiece

Patronage, courtly, private, personal.

Symbolism, attributes, personification

Society, heraldry, women in society, position of artist and patron in society.

Identifying artists.


A case study on Michelangelo or Leonardo. Cult of personality, fame.


Again, women's position in society. Not likely though as there was an essay based on society.

The human body, ignudi, images evoking spirituality such as Giovanni Busi's a portrait of a woman in the guise of st agatha 16th century. venus-venus or urbino and birth of venus, and a need to enforce social ideal that women should be obedient and chaste.

Christianity VS classics... what was acceptable? what was considered too much? Nudity, in a classical and then in a domestic context.

Material culture...

This section is too ecclectic too really define a subject for the exam. Hmpth.


Multicultural influences



Islam disapproves of human or animal representation in a religious context. Qur'ans are never illustrated; the ultimate artistic expression is to be found in sacred calligraphy and illumination, such as in the magnificent 'carpet pages' of the royal Qur'ans.

However, the image of the Prophet's ascension to heaven is often depicted in religious Islamic painting, particularly in Persian manuscripts. It is also often found in secular literature, as in this manuscript of the poems of the celebrated Persian poet Nizami.

According to tradition, the face of the Prophet Muhammad has been whitened out.

Friday, 13 May 2011

It's just when you're about to leave a place for a bit that you realise how much you appreciate it. Oh so damn cliche', but it's true. When I left the south west I wasn't sorry, I had too many bad associations with it. Now that I'm about to leave for an almost four month summer away from this city, I've realised how much I'll miss it. Though I may have exams at the moment and be stressed beyond belief, yesterday after some last day revision for the Roman World, I decided to take a walk.

It was sunny, a week of hardcore study, I was certainly deserved. After curving my way through the discovery centre, strolling path Hollyrood palace I continued to ascend the Salisbury crags. With a panoramic view of the city, my mind was temporarily taken away from my anxious head space. Spanish tourists stood holding onto the crags to prevent themselves being blown away, whilst look mesmerised by the view before them. That kind of face expression which defined my emotion as I arrived in the amazon rainforest, saw fireflies and stars in Kerala, or looked out over the vast emptiness of death valley. As I proceeded along the narrow walkway, feeling as though I might have blown away at any moment, I thought to myself, 'I am really lucky, to be here'. At the furthest edge of the crag I looked down, at that point feeling a tremendous sense of vertigo (occasionally clinging to tough deep rooted weeds when a massive gust of wind passed my way!), and saw my future home.

Yes, I have a flat for next year, and I forgot to mention it. It's a comfortable flat, pine wooden flooring, two double bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom, large enough living room. The balcony is the real thing that sealed the deal. There is the most astounding view in Edinburgh, I'm sure, a colourful composition including Arthurs seat and Salisbury crags. My dad will also be relieved, there is a lift! The only issue is the distance from the city, I will undoubtedly need a bike next year. I suppose my new shopping centre will also be morningside, which suits me better anyway, I will just have to avoid spending money on food!

So in a week's time I'll be free. That's an exciting thought, yet disturbing at the same time. Learning has become such an ecstatic pleasure for me, I don't want to stop. But I won't, I have 4 months, for almost two of those months I'll be in enrolled in summer schools to learn French and Italian in Florence and Antibes. Besides travelling and spending precious time with my anima gemella, I will be most certainly reading and studying of my own accord, beside seeing some of the things I have studied this year. Childish as it may seem, I strongly associate my spontaneous and half-thought-out trip to Athens with the the great tours of members of the Roman elite, such as Nero and Hadrian. I feel I am returning to this continent after a while of neglecting it, and need to sharpen up on my culture.

Dieci cose che faro' quando saro' libera.

1. Get started with learning French

2. Concentrate more on Italian. I have been too distracted by history of art.

3. Read books for next year. Okay this isn't really appearing to be a list of freedom, but I will read books for pleasure as well.

4. Get ready for the summer, have a week in Rome, racing around seeing as much as possible, this time visiting Tivoli and Ostia Antica. Do the same in Greece, but in a slightly more Hellenistic manner... Speak Italian with as many people as possible.

5. Try out some amateur theatre company in Florence, if there's anything going on when I'm there.

6. Have a day in pyjamas, eating cake, drinking coffee, reading novels, watching foreign films. All without necessity.

7. Try and bake some Italian foccacia bread, that type which they sell in Italy covered with salt and rosemary, which NEVER seems to come that way here, even in the best of shops.

8. Spend a lot of time on wikipedia, playing pokemon in Italian and not really understanding what moves I am making until it's too late.

9. Catch up on the doctor who series I'll have missed, I'll ask dad to mail the series to Italy, even if that does mean inflicting it upon Roberto...

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Sono scesa alla stazione ferroviaria vicino a princes street. La donna era li', sul margine della piattaforma, vestita in modo elegante, il pallone mostrato che lei ha vinto la competizione, e non ero sorpresa...

Ho sopravvissuta il soggiorno da mia nonna! Sono invincibile!

Ti piace il corpo nudo? Si, perche' no?
Poi, la donna ha togliato tutti dei vestiti.

Ho buttato un sasso, si e' approdato sulla testa della mia insegnante, l'ho uccisa.

Ho bisogno di una spada. Te lo comprata, non ne servi? Si ne servo, ma voglio una spada piu' grande e uno punto piu' nitide.

Mi sento indifesa. Non posso controllare niente della mia vita.

Ti piace giocare a pallavolo? Non davvero, preferisco fare l'equistrazione o il pattinaggio.

MERDA! Ti sei dimenticato di portare i passaporti?? No, sono qui, non preoccuparti. Che sollievo!!!

Il prato e' molto scarico, perfetto per construire un grattacielo.

Puoi passarmi il cavo? Si, certo, eccolo.

Mi stufo. Ho perso la gara, una ragazza mi ha sorpassata durante gli ultimi due minuti.

Il percorso/sentiero per raggiungere l'illimunazione e' probabilmente, piuttosto di preghiera, ad essere simpatico, onesto, gentile, perdonando, saggio.

La fiabia si svogle nell'epoca medievale, un castello in un posto remoto tra le colli in germania. La principessa fu maledetto a dormire semrpe, fino a quando un bacio vero ha rotto l'incantesimo.

Ennesimo- si toglia la parte della parola 'Enne' e si mette invece- Centesimo. Significa 'th' in inglese, come quando si dice 100th. Centesimo vuol dire 100th. Millesimo vuol dire, naturalmente, 1000th. Millionesimo.... Indovina? Non e' molto difficile. Decimo, 10th. Ventesimo. 20th. Trentesimo. Quarantesimo. Cinquantesimo. Sessantesimo. settantesimo. Ottantesimo. Novantesimo.

Come vai all'universita? Vado normalmente a piedi, ma quando ero piu' giovane, vivevo in campagna, e cosi' dovevo andare a scuola in macchina.

E' un grande successo! Come lo sai? Non hai letto le recensioni??? Dicono che il regista e' molto portato, la recitazione era superba, specialmente il protagonista che recita Julietta, e la orchestra ha ricevuto una standing ovation!

La trama si svogle/e' ambientata nel 1910 a londra e nella foresta amazzonica. Le descrizioni dei posto sono bellissime, e per tutta la vita ho voluto andare nei posti del romanzo. Quindi, l'estate scorsa, ci sono stata per quasi tre mesi. E' stata' un'esperienza meravigliosa!

Ogni volta che mi dici lo scherzo, mi metto a ridere.

Seneca ha scritto l'Apocolocyntosis di Claudio perche' Claudio ha mandato in esilio Seneca. L'apocolyocyntosis e' probabilmente una satira di l'apotheosis.

Quando la cinema da' l'ultimo film di harry potter? Il tredicesimo Luglio.

Puoi cucire? No... Ma posso fare un tentativo...

Le rovine di Roma sono scavata, ma c'e' molto di piu' che deve essere trovato.

C'e' una diceria da Suetonius che Claudius ha nascosto dietro una tenda. Ma e' probabilmente solo una diceria. Suetonius e' qualche volta utile, ma era un pettegola propria.

Non l'ho fatto! Ti giuro! Quello era svelto, non ti ho ancoraa accusato.

Non si preoccupo molto per apple, ma vuole comunque un ipad perche' ama i congegni nuovi.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Wonderful things in Edinburgh

So when I was admitted to the university, I had all these big ideas at to what I'd do when I came here: go to Portabello beach, take a day trip out to Melrose abbey, hang out on the royal mile and have picnics in the botanical gardens, take regular ryanair trips to Paris, Rome, Prague etc. So I didn't do that... However, I have had an incredible year...

1. Sometimes when I've had something of major importance to do, and I MUST stay in to do it, i.e. write an essay, the more appealing option on a sunny day has been to discover a new part of the city. In one particularly wonderful day I walked down through new town, past queensferry and through the impressive crescents, discovered both the national gallery of modern art and the french institute. The walk includes a tranquil footpath along the river. Another day I continued walking until I discovered the trendy suburb of Stockbridge, which is completely like another town, really beautiful buildings, the river, and my favourite patisserie in town, patisserie madeleine. Salted caramel and apple torte, very small but satisfying. To ease the essay pressure, I also used the opportunity to get a hair cut.

2. Aimless wondering, then discovering something interesting, yes this is kind of like the first, but I was amazed when I first ventured through the meadows to discover bruntsfield, marchmont and morningside. It's making me realise, I desperately need a bike.

3. Being in a cosmopolitan town is awesome. I walk down the street and so often hear a multitude of different accents and languages. Sometimes, I must admit, I discretely stalk Italians so I can listen to their conversation, not to be nosy, to learn! :P The Italian and French institutes are also really useful resources, with fully stocked libraries and language lessons on offer, besides ongoing cultural events.

4. Usher hall. Since I discovered the free voucher which allows students tickets anywhere in the theatre for £5, I have been a regular. The acoustics are amazing, and the touring orchestras are usually top notch. Festival theatre was also a great surprise, unlike usher hall the exterior is very modern, though when I went in I discovered a preserved theatre hall, and stay there for around four hours to watch the marriage of Figaro. Next year I will definitely take advantage of this place.

5. Farmers market breakfasts. I might as well say Falko breakfasts, as that is the only stall I buy from. Falko is actually a German bakery over in Bruntsfield, they have been reknowned as the best bakery in Edinburgh, for their fine yeasty breads, prestals, sacher torte and enticing range in the patisserie. I have only once been to the caffe', as it's a little expensive. My parents and I had breakfast there on my dad's birthday. Needless to say he, like many, loved the cinnamon swirl and the freshly ground coffee. It's probably one of the best pastries available. Beside the taste, what I like most about this place is the freshness, the fact that the cakes weren't made via a mass production line, but rather handmade, and with local ingredients.

6. The jazz bar. Now I seldom go out to bars or pubs, but this place is rather special. The prices are extortionate, but the atmosphere cannot be beaten. The small stage is underground and the entrance fee is about £4 for students, slightly more for those without concessions. The Jazz musicians make this place feel like a step into the past. Darkness, jazz music, tables in close vicinity to one another so you can make small talk. It's more like an informal concert hall than a gig, there is no one wildly dancing or standing up clapping. The wine list is extensive, though for me it's more of a place to have Pimms.