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Inspiring Collections on tour in Europe!

May 31, 2013
The theatre at Fiesole

The theatre at Fiesole

I have just come back from a week in Tuscany, and very nice it was too. The weather made sure I didn’t feel homesick as it resembled a British summer, wet with sunny interludes and mild temperatures. Italy is blessed with an extraordinary cultural heritage. Travelling with a toddler did reduce my time in museums and churches (which have collections that are just as rich as the largest museums), but I did visit a handful.

In particular my experience in Fiesole was a bitter sweet one. For those of you who don’t know Fiesole its a small town in the hills above Florence. The place has been inhabited for centuries and was an Etruscan town before the Romans. As it happens we decided to enjoy the dry spell by visiting the Archaelogical museum which includes an outdoor archaeological site boasted the ruins of a 3000 seater Roman theatre, public baths and temple complex. The setting was majestic and the site was physically accessible with ramped pathways and lifts. Something few UK outdoor archaeological sites can rival. However the interpretation was not so enticing. Much of it was in English (again top marks) but it seemed to replicate the Italian text which focused on archaeological jargon rather than explaining the site to the layman. The attached museum was filled with artefacts from the site spanning 3000 years. Again English text was available but it was densely written and focusing on the individual objects with little or no context. Where were these objects? What sort of people used them? Why are they significant? Unfortunately I left with no answers to these questions. At this point I was starting to glaze over and my accompanying toddler was too, unfortunately his reaction was to reach for one of the 5 foot tall slabs (I think a late Etruscan door post) at that point the room steward leapt out and warned me that this was strictly forbidden. Although entirely reasonable it was the only contact I had with the staff. Unfortunately there was no child friendly activities or interpretation (in any language). So what began as a wonderful encounter finished with a slightly bitter end.

Maybe some lessons we can use back home?

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