Memories of Perugia

My friend and colleague Vicent Martínez sent me this picture which dates from the spring of 1988.

Picture credit: Vicent Martinez

It took me a while to figure out where it was taken but I finally came to the conclusion that it was in Perugia (the University thereof) in Italy at a small workshop organized there by Silvio Bonometto. If memory serves that room was called the Aula Mussolini

I am on the far left (looking deranged) and talking to Alain Blanchard (with the long black hair). In between us is Vincent Icke. Further along the same row you can see Dennis Sciama, who is sadly no longer with us, and John Miller. In the middle looking at the camera is Rien van de Weijgaert. Just behind me is Bernard Jones. I guess Vicent must have taken the picture!

You can find this and other pictures from this bygone era here.

Yes, I know it’s very white and very male. Meetings tended to be like that in those days.

Incidentally 1988 was the year that I finished my DPhil thesis so I was still a graduate student at the time of this meeting. I think I gave a talk but can’t remember what it was about! In fact I don’t remember much about that meeting except for the splendid lunch that happened at the end. We took a coach trip to a magnificent Castello in the country and were treated to a lavish banquet of many courses. As luck would have it I sat next to Dennis Sciama at the meal, which I enjoyed greatly. Dennis was my academic grandfather (i.e. he supervised my supervisor). He was a lovely gracious man as well as hugely knowledgeable about a wide range of things, wonderful to talk to, and very generous with his time. He was also teetotal, so when they came to fill up his glass he gave it to me so I had a double wine ration, and a single ration would have been a lot!

If I recall correctly the coach trip also took in quick visits to the towns of Cortona and Arezzo.

Anyway, seeing that picture sent me a bit down memory lane during which I opened up a box of old photographs to find some more of Perugia. That meeting in 1988 was the first time I’d visited that ancient and beautiful place but I’ve been back a few times since then and on one occasion took a few snaps as I wandered round. I thought black-and-white would capture the atmosphere of the place. You can decide whether I was right!

The first picture is of the main square (Piazza IV Novembre) and the second the famous Etruscan Arch, which dates from pre-Roman times, emphasizing how ancient this place is! The town is perched on top of a steep-sided hill so it’s quite hard work getting around on foot but well worth exploring.

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