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Date(s) - 20 Marzo 2021
16:00 - 17:30

Poster by Koen Slothouber, graphic design (


For registration click here


The eternal city that is not as eternally accessible as we thought: with travel restrictions, ‘red zones’ and lockdowns, Rome feels much further away than before. Novelists, artists, journalists, scholars and many others have provided audiences both today and in the past with images and stories of the city.

The KNIR Ambassadors invite you to the first meeting of their Online Discussion Series Rome from Afar: Italian cinema & travel literature. Join them and explore the history of Rome through the eyes of early career and established researchers, who will discuss tourism and travel to Rome through various objects.
Klazina Staat (Gent University) and Koen Scholten (Utrecht University) will discuss Medieval and Early Modern travel literature to Rome, and Aimée Plukker (Cornell University) and Silvia Cavalli (Leiden University) will talk about Rome in Italian and Hollywood cinema.



1. The Itinerarium Einsidlense: A Travel Guidebook? Seeing the City from Afar in a Ninth-Century Carolingian Book about Rome

Dr Klazina Staat (Ghent University)

The ninth-century Itinerarium Einsidlense is seen as one of the ‘earliest’ guidebooks about Rome. It contains a collection of Latin walking routes along the most important classical and contemporary monuments in and around the city. But is it really a guidebook? In my talk I argue that it was meant for other aims, fitting the intellectual desires of the Carolingian monks and scholars for whom the Itinerarium was most likely composed. Rather than functioning as a guidebook, the Itinerarium allowed the audience to have an impression of Rome from afar, without ever visiting the city in the physical reality.

The Itinerarium Einsidlense is preserved in a composite manuscript from the Stiftsbibliothek Einsiedeln, cod. 326 (1076), f. 79v-86r. It is accessible here:


Klazina Staat is a postdoctoral researcher in Latin literature at Ghent University, Belgium. She was trained in Greek and Latin Languages and Cultures and Art History at VU University and the University of Amsterdam. She stayed ten weeks at KNIR in the spring of 2019 on a stipend for young scholars. Her research interests include late antique and early medieval Latin literature, especially travel literature of pilgrims and saints’ lives, as well as book history and medieval art.



2. Travelling to Italy for the Sake of Learning: A Seventeenth-Century Travelogue of an Aspiring Dutch Scholar

Koen Scholten (Utrecht University)

Many travelled to Italy on a so-called Grand Tour and some left their traces in travelogues and correspondence. This presentation will describe the Grand Tour to Italy as a rite de passage for learned men based on the intimate travelogue of Joannes Kool (1672–ca. 1708) and those who paved the way for his peregrinatio.


Koen Scholten is a PhD candidate in the ERC Consolidator project ‘Sharing Knowledge in Learned and Literary Networks – The Republic of Letters as a Pan-European Knowledge Society’ (SKILLNET), under the direction of Dr Dirk van Miert. His research interests include the cultural aspects of early modern science, in particular the development and negotiation of scholarly identity and memory, sociability, and credibility. His doctoral research focuses on the development of collective identities of knowledge communities in the early modern learned world by means of scholarly memorials, collections of scholars’ lives, sites of memory, and commemoration.



3. Roman Holiday: Hollywood and Cold War Tourism to the Eternal City

Aimée Plukker (Cornell University)

Roman Holiday (1953) is one of the most famous films about the touristic experience in Rome. This talk will explore the promotion of Rome as a tourist destination in Roman Holiday. How is the presented touristic experience of Rome related to the notion of Rome as “Hollywood on the Tiber”? And what is the link between tourism, glamour, consumerism and the Cold War?


Aimée Plukker is a PhD student in Modern European History at Cornell University (Ithaca, New York).

Her research focuses on post WWII U.S. Tourism to Rome, Berlin and Amsterdam.






4. Rome from Afar: Between Dreams and Illusions

Dr Silvia Cavalli (Catholic University of Milan/Leiden University)

How can we forget Anita Ekberg bathing in the Trevi Fountain? The scene is an icon of the twentieth century, reused several times in other films, and is an emblem of the suspension of reality that Rome represents. La Dolce Vita (1960) seems a modern fairy tale, just like Roman Holiday. Yet there is a distance: in William Wyler’s movie, Rome is where the magic happens and where a girl’s coming-of-age takes place; in Federico Fellini’s film, it is instead the city of unresolved conflicts and worldly perdition. The point of view changes: from abroad and from the inside.


Silvia Cavalli is a research fellow in Contemporary Italian Literature at the Catholic University of Milan. In the current semester, she teaches as a guest lecturer at Leiden University. Her research interests focus on editorial archives and Italian fiction of the 20th century. She published articles in journals and in volumes, compiled the bio-bibliographical apparatus of Fabbrica di carta. I libri che raccontano l’Italia industriale (2013) and edited the correspondence collected in «Il menabò» di Elio Vittorini (1959-1967) (2016). She authored the books Progetto «menabò» (1959-1967) (2017) and Avere ragione avendo torto. La ricerca letteraria di Giancarlo Buzzi (2020).

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