We had many honored guest speakers and even handed out some ARCA awards for research and dedication to protecting the arts and cultural heritage, and for helping to stop or reduce art crimes. Award winners included:
Vernon Rapley- Director of Scotland Yard's Arts and Antiquities Unit
Norman Palmer- Professor of Art and Law, King's College, London (unable to attend)
Francesco Rutelli- Former Italian Minister of Culture and Mayor of Rome
Colonnello Luigi Cortellesca- Representative of the Carabinieri Division for the Protection of Cultural Heritage
Vernon Rapley was a charming and fun man that I actual had the pleasure of having over to my house for lunch on Sunday. :-) He gave me his card and told me I could contact him at any time with questions, advice, or to set up any kind of introductions I might need. He was wonderful.
Rutelli was outrageously handsome and charming...the kind of leader who must have been very effective politically because he's so smooth and makes everyone fall all over themselves in his precense. He gave a wonderful speech in excellent English!
Colonnello Cortellesca was absolutely hilarious! He didn't speak English, so he had a translator (who used random hand gestures with every word she spoke, whether or not it related to what she was saying, and who apparently left out a lot of the very funny things the Colonnello added). He had everyone laughing and smiling though, and he extended an offer for us to come and see some of the art that had been recovered in the Carabinieri office. An amazing opportunity!! I even stole his hat at the gala afterwards, and started a trend of having everyone get his picture taken with him while wearing the hat! Did you know Armani designs the Carabinieri uniforms? Classy!
We had some other speakers including our teacher Derek Fincham, Arthur Tompkins (a hilarious judge from New Zealand), Bernadine Benson (former component head for Cultural Heritage crimes at the Endangered Species Protection Unit in South Africa), and Virginia Curry (former FBI Art Squad agent).
For the most part, the presentations were very interesting...however, one of these people was completely disappointing and had to be spoken to about being too negative and abrasive towards the students. I will try to not say too many mean things, but if you have seen the new Disney movie Up, you will understand when I say that I feel just like the old man did when he met his hero and the hero turned out to be a major jerk. It definitely put a damper on my weekend.
The conference was generally a good time though other than that, and I got to dress up and play Vanna White and help hand out the awards to the winners while Noah spoke about each one. The gala was delicious, with a fabulous meal in a fancy restaurant with big glass panels on the floor that enable you to see the remains of original Roman roads beneath the floor! I felt like I was going to fall in the whole time! After dinner, Gavino and Gabriella (two friends of Isa and Antonio, my Italian parents) threw a huge party with live music and neverending cocktails and cakes, etc, at their palacial home in Amelia.
The party raged on well into the early morning and I slept for the majority of Sunday, waking up to be lazy with Khoe and Emilia and to head out to a concert by Emilia's friends' band! They are sooo good!!! We sang and danced and had another late night of fun. It's interesting to notice American dancing involves a lot of booty shaking, and Italian dancing is much more jumping and bouncing and frolicking. It was a great time!
Emilia's friends' band performing in the park, with Em and her mom Isa dancing!
Last night I went out again with Emilia and her friends from the band. One of the guys (the one we call "Creepy Guy" because he is 34 and hangs out with 17-20 year olds) makes balloon animals, so we spent the evening trying to figure out how to make balloon crocodiles and elephants and "snake-dogs."
Marco e Marco singing the song they made up, Fantasma Formaggio (The Cheesy Ghost)
Tomorrow I will leave for Rome at 7:00 AM and will meet Todd at the airport! :-D We have a mini vacation planned in which we will stay in Rome and do all sorts of touristy things like visit the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Pompeii, and some museums. It sounds like it will be a good time! We will return to Amelia on Sunday and classes were cancelled on Monday, so we will stay in the area and maybe take a short day trip to Orvieto! Expect a lot of excellent pictures and good stories from that!