Italy was the cradle of the Renaissance – a fitting locale for a workshop that blends writing and photography, practice and theory, a historic city and the latest storytelling techniques ….
Generally class will meet in the morning and afternoon, with time for students to exercise their new skills in between. However, we arranged for two late-start days, so folks can explore the city (the Sistine Chapel, for example, is best visited very early, before the line forms: it’s stretched a mile during high season. Also, note that some museums require reservations, especially for English-language tours).
Sunday April 19
Opening night reception at the classroom in Monti: wine, antipasti and a warm welcome. Light eaters can probably graze dinner from the selection of snacks.
Monday April 20
Discussion: genre overview
Photo seminar: shooting like a pro
Break for lunch (on your own) and exploration
Lecture and in-class writing experience: story pitches
Tuesday April 21
Field reporting: fact-gathering for the afternoon writing clinic. Sleuth down your own topic or chose from our shortlist:
Campo dei Fiori (the famous farmers’ market runs dawn-noon)
The Vatican (go extremely early for the Sistine Chapel. The dome tour is panoramic, but a monster stair workout, even with the elevator).
Trastevere (atmospheric quarter on the west bank of the Tiber)
The Forum (free) and Colosseum (purchase a combination ticket at the Palatine, where lines are much shorter)
The Pantheon and Tor di Nona area
Debrief on morning field work
In-class exercise: a lede, nut graf and two paragraphs based on the morning’s reporting
Photo seminar: travel image tips and techniques
Writing clinic: share and critique
Discussion: self-editing and redrafting
Excursion: Birth of Rome celebration (optional)
Meet in front of the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II ( also know as “the Vittoriano” and “the wedding cake,” this Fascist-built monstrosity dominates Piazza Venezia). We’ll take a short walk to the see the candle-covered Capitoline Hill. Fireworks will explode over the Tiber River later that evening. Feel free to join us or explore alone.
Redraft your in-class exercise
Wednesday April 22
Field assignment: prepare a “front of the book” article of 250-500 words with one accompanying photo. The day excursion includes the Testaccio neighborhood and Ostia Antica: the city’s old port is now the most extensive collection of Roman ruins outside of Pompeii.
We’ll visit the Pyramid of Cestius and the Protestant Cemetery (the final resting place of Keats and Shelley’s heart). At Volpetti, one of Rome’s most famous deli’s, we’ll pick up a picnic lunch (provided by TWC). Time-permitting, we’ll also visit the Testaccio market.
Travel: Catch the Rome-Lido train from Porta San Paolo (30 min)
Explore the ruins of Ostia Antica: streets, temples, baths and forums.
Thursday April 23
Writing time: develop your “front of the book” story
Writing clinic: “front of the book” assignment
Discussion: discovering your voice
Photo seminar: shooting for the web and blogs, magic hour and night photos
6:45–8:30pm Photo safari: We’ll take a stroll from the Capitoline toward the Tiber River to capture the day’s best light. Early birds may enjoy the panorama from the Capitoline Museum Cafè. No admission ticket is required: a separate entrance lies on the left side of the Palazzo dei Conservatori. Dismiss the sensation of sneaking into the museum — it’s truly OK: just clamber up the stairs to the bar.
Friday April 24
Hack skills 101 Interviews, investigations and research
Break for lunch (on your own) and exploration
Plot, structure and pacing tips from narrative nonfiction
• Q&A (photo and text) and final notes. Slide show of student work.
Saturday April 25
Critiques: Private consultations, up to 30 minutes with each instructor, of your photos and text from the week’s work.
Closing dinner at Remo in Testaccio. The pizza’s thin crust peters into charcoal here – the true mark of wood-fired, Roman authenticity. Indeed, Remo is as real as it comes. The hum of happy customers grows loud in this blue-collar neighborhood favorite. Superb produce makes even a simple bruschetta al pomodoro (toast, brushed with garlic and olive oil, topped with tomato and basil) pleasurable. Serious gourmands should sample the eggplant parmesan and filetti di bacalà (salted, battered, deep-fried cod), however. The tablecloths may be paper, but this pizzeria has both class and credibility.
Please note: April 25th is Liberation Day. Museums, businesses, public transportation and government offices may be closed or on Sunday schedule. Don’t attempt any ambitious travel on this holiday.