July 12, 2018
English Professor Alan Weltzien was awarded a grant for “Visiting Professors and Scholars” at the University of Bergamo located in Bergamo, Italy where he taught and explored the entire month of May 2018 and into the first week of June.
The grant was made possible by his good friend Stefano Rosso, an Italian professor, long-time member of the Western American Literature Association, and according to Weltzien, an expert on Italy in the West.
Weltzien stayed in a small Airbnb in Città Alta, the upper city nestled in the hills of Bergamo, roughly 100 feet from main street.
He reminisced on the Campanone bell tower, the largest bell in Lombardy. “I want to write a poem about the big bell,” said Weltzien.
The university he taught at was merely two decades old, fairly new compared to the surrounding architecture. “Institute culture is much different than schools in the states, especially compared to a smaller school like Montana Western,” Weltzien said.
Classes were sometimes held in a cloister, an open courtyard or garden, with roughly 50 students in each session.
Weltzien also attended sessions including one he sat in on regarding American poet Emily Dickinson. He participated in many conferences as both an educator and student.
“I like to bring the world to Montana Western as much as I can. It’s good to bring in experience from the big broad world,” he said in an earlier interview about the residency.
He was also able to experience the local culture and cuisine, and raved about Casoncelli ravioli, a Bergamo original of meat-filled noodles often served with butter and sage leaves.
Inspired by rural western novelist Thomas Savage, who wrote about life in the American West from the mid 1940’s into the late 1980’s, Weltzien spent much of his time during his residency researching the relationship between the American West and Italy. Weltzien is currently writing a biography on Savage, hoping to share his story with the world.