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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Actuaries do Rome

Change is in the air at The Actuary, like the time Bob Dylan went electric or when Picasso discovered cube-like shapes looked pretty decent. Yes, welcome to the all new arts page and our debut as its editors. Neither of us professes to be masters on the subject but we do admire and appreciate the arts because sometimes, as we all know, numbers are just not enough. This month, in our main feature, Finn digresses on the art of travel in the Italian capital.
Matt and Finn

Sitting in the Wetherspoon pub in the North Terminal at Gatwick is an unlikely beginning for my arts page debut. A few months back, however, an actuary colleague of mine decided to throw caution to the wind (yes, you read that correctly) and transfer to our Rome office. Spotting the chance to have a cost-efficient weekend away, I had decided to go and pay her a visit and see the sights along the way.

The Colosseum is breathtaking and must be one of the most iconic buildings of both the ancient Roman empire and Rome today. I was awe-struck by the sheer size of it and what an incredible feat of engineering it must have been. On further reading, I found out that it had a capacity of around 50 000 — bigger than most Premiership grounds. However, the sport that this particular stadium is famous for is somewhat more brutal than most football games.

A trip to the Colosseum’s modern-day equivalent, the Stadio Olympico, home to both AS Roma and Lazio, proved that today’s Romans still enjoy a good gladiatorial battle. Although the stadium was only half full, the chants of the Ultras were deafening. My Italian is fairly shabby but I did make out the fans most repeated chant of “Grazie, grazie Roma” and duly joined in.

Complementing the sound was the sight of huge flags held proudly aloft for the full 90 minutes. A fortunate bounce saw the home crowd go home happy with a well-deserved 1-0 victory. In answer to Russell Crowe’s question in Gladiator, I most certainly was entertained.

The weekend coincided with the Oscars, which brings to mind another famous Italian trait. Walking down via Condotti confirms the country’s love affair with style. To gain an insight into the changing styles of one of Italy’s most renowned fashion houses my colleague invites me to an exhibition Celebrating 45 years of the history of Valentino. After its residence in Rome, the exhibition is taking a short break before moving to the Louvre in July and features, quite simply, a collection of beautiful dresses.

We arrived at the Vatican City just in time to see the Pope address the masses, after which we began our ascent to the top of the cupola, offering a splendid view across Rome. The view inside St Peter’s Basilica is truly sublime and deserves to be described by better words than I can muster. The first burst of the interior, in all its expansive majesty and glory and, most of all, looking up into the Dome is a sensation never to be forgotten. — Charles Dickens, 1846.

Alas a long weekend was not enough to do justice to Rome, sitting in Fiumicino airport I thought to myself: I came, I saw, I want to go back.

Finn Clawson

Recommended author:
Haruki Murakami

Our first recommendation goes out to one of our favourite authors, Haruki Murakami. Surreal and unworldly, incredibly original and thought-provoking, his writing transports you to a dream-like world where the unusual is usual. With, thankfully, a large back catalogue of novels and short stories, some good places to start are Norwegian Wood, Dance Dance Dance, and Kafka on the Shore.

Client entertaining:
Tiroler Hut, London
If you want to provide your clients with a true Austrian experience to (almost) match the Oktoberfest, you can’t go far wrong with Tiroler Hut in London’s Notting Hill. Think lederhosen, beer, sausages and lots of live music and you are there. Not the location if you want to talk serious business but perfect if you want to check your client’s ability to play The Sound of Music’s greatest hits on cow bells.

Art by an actuary
We hope to feature actuarial artworks as often as possible. This inaugural piece (see below) has been created by co-editor, Matt. An excess amount of toilet roll in his flat led him to unleash his repressed creative instincts.

If you are involved in the arts in any way we would be pleased to hear from you at arts@the-actuary.org.uk