Passo del Tonale Winter School 2012

I’m having a restful morning at home because (a) it was our Departmental Christmas Lunch yesterday meaning that I’m feeling a bit fragile and (b) there’s a planned electrical shutdown in our building this morning meaning that there’s not much point going in until it’s all back up anyway.

Anyway, since various people made the odd facetious comment accusing me of skiving off last week, I thought I’d take the opportunity to reflect a little on the Winter School that I was lecturing at last week. This took place at Passo del Tonale, in the Italian Alps and was the Sixth in a series of schools for graduate students and postdocs held there annually. When I was invited to take part, I was asked to give five lectures as a sort of overview of the current state of cosmology. Subsequently one of the other speakers dropped out so instead of inviting a replacement, the remaining four were given an extra lecture each. Then one of those was taken ill during the summer school so I stepped in at short notice to give another one. And so it came to pass that I gave seven lectures altogether, in the space of five days. That’s considerably more lecturing than I would have done had I stayed in Cardiff.

Anyway, here’s a picture of me during one of the lectures (taken by one of the participants, Chris Crowe).


Afternoons were kept free for skiing and snowboarding, but my dodgy knees don’t allow me to participate in such activities. I am not shap’d for sportive tricks nor made to court an amorous looking-glass. I had lectures to prepare anyway.

However the hosts looked after us well and there was a fine conference dinner on Wednesday evening,


the main course featuring a roast pig brought into the room by the chefs with some aplomb:


Everything was eaten. I was given the honour of having one of the ears, in fact. A bit chewy, but quite tasty in case you were wondering. I don’t know what the vegetarians did.


Anyway, at the end of the school the lecturers were presented with bottles of fine Grappa. I’ll no doubt be sampling mine over the Christmas vacation!


9 Responses to “Passo del Tonale Winter School 2012”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    “a roast pig brought into the room by the chefs with some aplomb”

    I hope the aplomb sauce tasted good. but was there really no internet there, as you said on Dec 8?

    • In fact there was WIFI in the hotel, but it was very flaky and so frustrating to use I didn’t bother. Plus, it was a good excuse not to read my work email for a week. I could keep up with things using my phone, but that’s no good for writing blog pieces.

  2. “Anyway, since various people made the odd facetious comment accusing me of skiving off last week”

    Skiing off, surely. 🙂

    “Then one of those was taken ill during the summer school”

    Must be serious if he is still ill now. 🙂

  3. I used to love going to winter conferences with my Dad. Years later, I discovered that the work he and his cronies did before hitting the slopes was quite important. I guess all that mountain air is good for creativity..

    • I’ve been to several Moriond conferences where there is time for skiing in the afternoon. It might sound like the conference is just a smokescreen for some fun on the slopes, but (although skiing is nice) the time for talks is about the same as for other conferences because after the afternoon break there is a second session from 4 until 8 P.M. or so. Also, there are usually (always) talks on Sunday as well, so 6 days instead of 5. And practically everyone is back in time for the late session. In addition, quite a bit of conversation goes on in the ski lifts, in restaurants up on the mountain (one can get coupons if one would rather go up the mountain before lunch so that one can get a nice lunch on the slopes) etc. For a given number of hours of talks, I think two sessions with a long break in-between is better than just a short break and finishing earlier in the day.

      • Yes, I agree. And if there is fresh air and excercise involved during the break, the sky is the limit. or so I tell myself…

  4. […] organisers were amazingly good at arranging fun and engaging activities for the participants (as Peter Coles over at Telescoper eloquently remarked last year), who found themselves skiing, hiking through the night in snow shows, getting guided tours of the […]

  5. […] Passo del Tonale Winter School 2012 […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: