La Verna in spring

 

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As my stay in Anghiari draws to a close, it feels as if I have been watching spring arrive in slow motion. Shutters and windows are opening, and every day the landscape changes: the greens get greener, and the light brighter; there are ever more birds and flowers and colours. And, now, leaves are appearing on trees. The forests of beech and ash around La Verna were shimmering with new leaves when we visited there yesterday.

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Toppole in spring

 

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Yesterday, it was only by chance that we went to Toppole, a small mediaeval hamlet in the hills above Anghiari. A friend who had been visiting family in Padova was here for just a few days, and, as she has never been to Anghiari before, I’d given some thought to the choice of a nearby walk to do. In a distracted state, however, I drove to Toppole instead of the place I’d planned on. In response to my ‘oh, wrong place’ as we turned the last bend, Marisa said ‘don’t worry, maybe it’ll be the right place.’

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Anghiari flowers

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We returned from a walk in the hills yesterday with bunches of little flowers picked from bedside the path. Every day more flowers are coming out, and, a few days ago, as I walked along the ridge from Anghiari to Il Carmine, I noticed that bright white patches had appeared amongst the brown of oaks and chestnuts in the distant hills. Blossom, I realized! But perhaps even more noticeable is the appearance of flowers throughout the town.

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Tranquillo

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Whilst here, in Anghiari, I have been reading a lovely book called A Philosophy of Walking (by Frédéric Gros). Here are a couple of passages on the experience of time when walking:

Walking is the best way to go more slowly than any other method that has ever been found. To walk, you need to start with two legs. The rest is optional. If you want to go faster, then don’t walk, do something else: drive, slide or fly. Don’t walk. And when you are walking, there is only one sort of performance that counts: the brilliance of the sky, the splendour of the landscape. Walking is not a sport. (2014: 2)

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Chiesa della Propositura

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This is a piece I’ve been meaning to write for a while. Each blog that I have done on arriving in Anghiari over the last couple of years has a reference to bells ringing. I find them such a welcoming sound. And they always seem to be ringing just as I arrive! If you happen to be in the main piazza when they are ringing, they seem to come from a particular direction, you feel certain about it, but, in fact, they are coming from the opposite direction, up the hill behind the piazza, from Chiesa della Propositura, an 18th church, with a lovely Della Robbia behind the alter.

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Easter in Turin

I have returned home to Anghiari from a trip to Turin over Easter (la pasqua). I have never been there before, but Mirella, who is working with me on Anghiari interviews, lives there, and invited me to visit.20180331_112138-1_resized

Turin is an elegant city of Baroque architecture, porticos, arcades, ‘terrazzo’ pavements and floors, bookshops, stylish cafés with waiters who treat their work as a profession, bustling markets with stall after stall of fresh local vegetables and cheeses. And yes, restaurants with great local food and wine (chilometro zero)! I am a tourist here, and there is a lot to see. But, what I find most interesting is the encounters I have, in the street, at the bakery, at the markets, on the tram, in bars, restaurants, at concerts …. Every time I venture out. Continue reading Easter in Turin

Weather, meetings, walking

20180318_022512-1It has turned bitterly cold, with light snow yesterday here in Anghiari, and snow on the mountains across the Tiber valley (Anghiari is located in the foothills of the Apennines, on a ridge between the Sovara and Tiber valleys). While I have been here before when it has snowed, there is something distinctive about the light in the landscape this time. It’s the spring light, I realize, that is giving a particular brightness to what would normally be a wintery view. If you look again at this photo which was at the beginning of my last blog and imagine snow on the mountains, you might get some idea of this view.

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Working with a Transcript

Colleagues of mine recently asked me to ‘teach’ them how to write first-person narratives using interview transcripts. What method did I use? What were the steps I followed? How long should they be? Did I edit out stutters and conversational fillers? Did I correct grammar?

They knew I had written first-person narratives before and knew that I advocated it as a honest and accessible form of sociological writing.  That is true, so I was happy to comply. However, what happened next surprised me. I found it incredibly difficult to describe how I edited a transcript or why I made the editorial decisions I did. Instead of a series of techniques to be learnt,  I found myself coming back to the form of relation I was in when undertaking the editing. What follows is one of  many attempts to describe how and why I work with interview transcripts. Continue reading Working with a Transcript

Welcome back to Anghiari

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Yesterday I arrived in Anghiari, and I found, once again, that there is something about this experience of arrival that makes me want to record it. I’m aware that I will say what I have said on other occasions, but each time is new, each time I reexperience the joys of everyday life in this place. In fact, one of the things that I rediscover is that things don’t change here in the way that they do in Sydney, where I usually live. Here there is a sense of continuity in everyday rituals, over years, generations; the buildings remain over centuries; the same people are in the same shops. But, of course, there is also change, and the most obvious, for me on arrival this time, has been the change in season.

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