Fontainebleau Aldine at the Montefiascone Conservation Project, Part I

Last week Tristram and I were in Montefiascone, Italy, where I took a class taught by Caroline Checkley-Scott, Stephania Signorello, and Julianne Simpson, and Tristram bought large quantities of Parmesan. The town is a beautiful one on the top of a hill; the Montefiascone Conservation Project is situated in the seminary with views over the lake. We're learning about the Aldine press & making a copy of an Aldine book bound à la grecque in Fontainebleau for French king Henri II in 1517. First, some photos to set the scene.

The seminary is at the top of a hill at the edge of town, with a view over the lake

The seminary is at the top of a hill at the edge of town, with a view over the lake

The seminary  

The seminary  

Where the seminary's press used to be

Where the seminary's press used to be

Hall in the seminary with trompe l'oeil marble

Hall in the seminary with trompe l'oeil marble

We had class from about 9–2 each day, then hurried home to hide from the sun and eat lunch. We stayed in an old apartment in the center of town with stone floors and massively high ceilings. Then we had afternoons and evenings to explore the area.

Lake Bolsena from Marta, a caldera formed by the Vulsini volcano complex. I only just discovered that you can take a ferry to one of the islands... maybe next year.

It's only polite, when there are so many flavors of gelato, to try ... most of them. My tally was tiramisu, cantaloupe, hazelnut, & pistachio. I think Tristram had chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, and fruits of the forest. 

Cantaloupe gelato

Orvieto Cathedral (14th century)

Colored stone & glittering mosaic stripes on the Orvieto Cathedral

On Thursday we had a home-cooked candlelit Italian dinner as a class in a beautiful garden. A special bonus in all of this was a surprise reunion with Mariko Watanabe, who studied with me at West Dean & is now a book and paper conservator in Singapore.

The class was a really interesting mix of conservators, binders, and people with absolutely no experience making books. I was really impressed with the latter (everyone was); they did brilliant work, particularly under less-than-ideal forwarding & finishing conditions. And on the last day, we all walked off with some version of a Fontainbleau binding!