My parents spent a week and a half in Italy earlier this summer, and upon their return, I gave them an assignment. I asked them each, independently, to list all the museums they’d seen during their trip.
They immediately asked, “Do churches count?”
I told them each would have to use his or her own definition of “museum.”
- My mother’s list was longer than my father’s, mostly because he worked only from memory, while she made her list based on what she’d written in her journal. Also, she accidentally listed one place twice.
- There was only one location whose museum-ness was disputed. She listed a winery; he said the winery was not a museum because it was “more commercial.” She maintained that the visit to the winery was “seeing something different, not like around here, and you can learn something,” and therefore it was like a museum.
- Both counted the many old churches they saw.
- They both seemed to have a desire to have as long a list as they could. My dad kept calling the exercise a “contest.”
- He noticed that he tended to remember the art museums (which he is more interested in) but not the history museums (which she is more interested in).
Here is their final list (the names of places may not always be the official or correct names):
- Batisteria in Siena
- Cattedrale dei Santi Gervasio e Protasio
- Cattedrale in Siena
- Chiesa di San Francesco (Cortona)
- Church – San Augustino
- Church – San Clemente
- Church – San Luigi dei Fancesi
- Church – Santa Maria in Aracocli
- Church – Santa Maria Sopra Minerva
- Duomo in Citta della Pieve (Chiesa di San Francesco)
- Duomo in Montepulciano
- Duomo in Todi
- Emigration Exhibit
- Etruscan Museum
- Franciscan church (Rome)
- Imperial Forum
- Orvieto caves
- Orvieto Duomo
- Palazzo Piccolomini
- Pienza Duomo
- Pope exhibit
- Roman Forum
- St. Peter’s Basilica
- Torre Argentina (cat sanctuary)
- Winery in Montepulciano
Torre Argentina is a site of ancient Roman ruins, where 250 cats are cared for while they await their forever homes. It is paradise for cats, full of structural relics to climb on and hide behind. This use of ruins may not exactly conform to best practices in conservation, but it’s an example of a historic site making a big difference for creatures in need.