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Wednesday 11 November

The Ancona train northwards a few minutes after the 1918h departure time; after several days in Rome for the 2d Ostia symposium: with by now tons of catching up to do, of course.

So, back to Saturday 7th: I took the 0731 train, despite the useless 45mn wait in Foligno, to give myself a bit more sleep, and went to meet — finally — Jan-Theo Bakker at his hotel, the Pensione Kristi at via Collina, 24 (not too far from Termini), where I found him just arrived the night before and suffering from a cold or sinusitis or something miserable. We'd originally been scheduled to use a computer at the Dutch Institute, but this turned out to be inconvenient for them: we went to Ostia instead (where else?)

A fair amount of wandering about — Jan-Theo hadn't been back, apparently, since 1996's convegno — and I just tagged along: the highlight of these cow-like meanderings was a fairly intentional on J-Th.'s part meet-up with [. . .] Anyway, the explanations certainly were interesting, and as usual, it looks like another piece of ancient literary source is accurate; I've never understood — I mean apart from obvious fabrications like the SHA — why people constantly insist that ancient authors wrote nothing but lies or stupidities . . .

A bit more wandering but I parted company with Jan-Theo about 2h after this to get to the rink on time: not, however, before I finally saw his bakeries; I'd seen others, but not his: there was a pocket N of the decumanus and just E of the Capitolium that I'd still not seen.

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Jan-Theo focusing on some dolia (storage jars, in this case for wheat I believe) in that little pocket of Ostia the diary just mentioned.

My skate was OK, no stars; blades of course getting duller and duller and absolutely nowhere to get them sharpened reliably: still, a few surprisingly good spins; waltz jumps under control if not past 5½ blades; edge rolls irregular. Lots of people —

Back to Spello, bed at 2350+, as usual.

Sunday 8th, up at 4 and train at 0524 — not much sleep, I was tired in the morning but perked up nicely as the day progressed — with skate and camera bags plus suitcase containing mostly clean clothes; Jan Theo'd arranged to have me housed, for convenience sake, at the same Pensione Kristi, via the Dutch Institute — although I eventually found out that the German Institute picked up the tab. For once I didn't feel guilty about something, since after all I have both a paid house in Spello and a paid abbonamento back and forth to Rome: so that although it cost the German Institute some money, it wasn't saving me any, since my Plan A had been to commute from and to Spello. But I'm very grateful indeed I was able to stay in Rome and get a bit more sleep, and even socialize with quite a few of the other symposium participants.

Anyway, Jan-Theo and I had agreed to meet at 1:30 at the Kristi; but I had to be there before noon to be sure of my room, and I was, around 9. Dropt off heavy stuff, and with my camera bag went to the Porta Flaminia, checked on bus and rail schedules to Rignano — very confusing, but frequent — then walked another section of the Aurelian Walls: unrewarding, as I knew from 1994 it would be — Viale del Muro Torto, whizzing cars, 16″‑wide pedestrian space, really quite dangerous in fact — finally abandoning this for a space, doing a piece of the Pincio to the Pincian Gate then on time to meet Jan-Theo.

Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Rom a few minutes away in the via Sardegna. More help from Michael Heinzelmann; computer in the Photo Library, accessed by going up several floors and back and around and down — such chutzpah on my part to co-present anything at all on the uses of the Internet from this particular location, sitting in one of the premier archaeological libraries of the whole world, a single room of which still — for now — holds more information than the entire Net. . . Acutely aware of it while we were accessing (more or less) our respective websites. My half was definitely less success­ful than Jan-Theo's: for some reason (timeouts seemed to be the cause) UKansas steadily refused to allow me to FTP, at which point I couldn't repair our Ptolemy-West Mediterranean page (despite having carried Ptolemy with me across the bounding main). . . Quite disappointed, but it fits with the perennial bad luck I have with computers in Europe!

P.M. and I was milling about in my best cocktail party mode at the British School at Rome — despite the Brooks Brothers suit, looking my usual ratty self, starting with the damn thing doesn't fit any more, all those dropped inches 'round the waist thank goodness; then with the only clean dry shirt being that dark blue Texan thing with the embroidered edelweiss — masked by my suit jacket, at least until I shed the latter in a restaurant; etc.

Various greetings and an intro to recent goings-on in Ostia from the Soprintendente: very long, if full of capsule info, but causing me to miss any chance of getting to the rink (we got out around 7:30, the rink train is 8:06 for the 9 P.M. session — but we were half an hour's walk from the station, plus my skates at the hotel. . . .)

Hey, meno male: an enjoyable dinner at a restaurant [. . .] — on the Piazza Flaminia, which I viewed as a favorable omen —

. . .] table­ful, at any rate, of interesting and attractive people even if I could be anyone's father (pushing it in Jan-Theo's case, who's 39)! Conversation not mostly archaeological, à bâtons rompus plutôt; poor red, decent white carafe wine, some kind of Frascati; food fine if quite unmemorable: I didn't write it down on the spot, and only 3 days later I find I really can't remember much, 'cept that the pasta asciutta was good, and the dessert, which was supposed to be a Mont Blanc, very low on the chestnuts plus the cream was either artificial or had something added to it.

And thus, at about 11:20 P.M., out with Risto and Jan-Theo to wait for buses in the P.zza Flaminia; purportedly every 5 minutes (which I was quite surprised by) but of course something like 20 minutes; short walk, sleep.

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Page updated: 7 Dec 20