The Glimpse Series: Stephanie Malia Hom Explores Mass Tourism in Rome

The Glimpse Series: Stephanie Malia Hom Explores Mass Tourism in Rome
Stephanie Malia Hom poses with a miniature leaning tower of Pisa at the Italia in Miniatura theme park near Rimini.

Stephanie Malia Hom is the recipient of the 2010-2011 Lily Auchincloss Post-Doctoral Rome Prize in Modern Italian Studies. She arrived in Rome from the University of Oklahoma, where she is Assistant Professor of Italian in the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics. Stephanie’s time in Rome has been spent working on her book manuscript, Destination Italy: Tourism, Nation, Place, which explores how Italy’s identity as a modern nation is intimately bound up with its identity as a mass tourism destination.

A typical week for Stephanie involves researching and writing in the Academy's Arthur & Janet C. Ross Library, while reserving a day or two for going into the field, that is, to observe all things related to mass tourism in Rome. She has interviewed souvenir shop owners near the Trevi Fountain, done the “Caesar shuffle” with the masses from Piazza Venezia to the Colosseum, hunted for old Italian guidebooks, and rode the open-air tour buses around the city. Of the latter, Stephanie argues that these buses—which were inaugurated in 2003—create a new, cinematic mode of viewing the city through travel glances, thus changing the way that Rome has traditionally been seen and experienced.

Stephanie is currently working on a chapter about guidebooks, the origin of which can be traced directly to the pilgrimage manuals for the Holy Land, Santiago de Compostela, and more importantly, Rome. In the Barbara Goldsmith Rare Book Room of the Academy library, Stephanie has had the opportunity to see a copy of the famed ninth-century Einsiedeln itinerary, one of the earliest pilgrimage guides to the city, as well as the famous twelfth-century Mirabilia Urbis Romae, the first true guidebook that outlines touring routes around Rome. For inspiration, she recently traced these routes to four of Rome’s seven pilgrimage churches, for, she notes that pilgrims were very much the ancestors of modern tourists.

Stephanie’s research has also taken her beyond the Roman boundaries. In the fall, she made a trip up to the archives of the Touring Club Italiano in Milan, the primary organization responsible for creating a domestic tourism industry in Italy. This spring, her travels have taken her to Italy’s first seaside resort, Rimini, as well as to the first motels and holiday villages constructed in Puglia (Ostuni) and Calabria (Capo Rizzuto) during the 1950s and ‘60s.

Outside of researching and writing, Stephanie has enjoyed being a tourist with her fellow Fellows, with trips to the Venice Biennale, Florence and Arezzo, and especially on the spring trip to Turkey. She also plays the position of forward for the AARFC (American Academy in Rome Football Club) and is a member of the Club Alpino Italiano, through which she often goes on weekend hikes to explore the wilds of Lazio and beyond.

Press inquiries

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