What do you teach at Ca’ Foscari? What are your main research interests?
I was born and lived in Genoa, la Superba, until 1999, but I now feel half-Genoese and half-Venetian, although I only moved to Venice, la Serenissima, in 2014. I am a Byzantinist, a scholar who studies the mediaeval period in the geographical space of Italy, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, that is, I specifically study the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire (330-1453 AD), its history, its society, its culture. My research is devoted to the division of mediaeval Christianity between what we now call the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. I am especially interested in the complex theological discussion on the procession of the Holy Spirit, a topic that was much debated at the time, and in ecdotics, or textual criticism, i.e. the art of reconstructing and making texts that are still preserved only in mediaeval manuscripts accessible. At Ca' Foscari I teach Byzantine history and literature, a basic introductory course in Greek, and a course on mediaeval Mediterranean environmental history.
What led you to pursue a research career?
I studied in Genoa, where I graduated in Classical Literature, then in London at King's College to specialise in Late Antiquity and Byzantine Studies, and finally for my PhD at St John's College, Oxford. After my PhD I worked for a couple of years in a land development agency among the Langhe, Monferrato and Roero vineyards in Piedmont and then returned to the academic world with a research grant from Dumbarton Oaks, Trustee for Harvard University (the most important centre for Byzantine studies in the United States in Washington), then I worked in Sweden at Stockholms universitet and, finally, again in London as a researcher at King's College, where I had studied 10 years earlier. In 2014 I returned to Italy thanks to a grant from the Ministry of University and Research called FIR (Futuro in Ricerca - Future in Research).
Have you always known that this was going to be your path?
I have always thought that I would have liked to work with young people, teach and be involved in cultural projects, but I have also always kept my options open and had a 'plan B' ready in my pocket. I discovered my passion for research while working on my dissertation, and from then on I have always worked to turn my passion for studying into a job. I lived abroad for many years and this long journey, which was extraordinary but also extremely unstable, difficult and tiring, taught me to adapt and appreciate every job I had and every role I held, from the humblest to the most prestigious.