I just came back from a week on the Italian island of Ventotene, where I participated in a very nice conference on “Manifolds and groups”. This is of course not my usual topic, and besides giving a minicourse on expanders and coverings (with a focus on geometric applications of expanders having to do with coverings…), I learnt a lot of interesting things. I particularly enjoyed the other two minicourses, by T. Gelander on invariant random subgroups and by R. Sauer on Lücks’s Approximation Theorem. (For both of these, as well as for a number of other talks, the slides are available on the conference web page; my own — handwritten — notes on my course should appear there soon, after I scan them).
Being an island, Ventotene is reached by boat. One of the interesting things about the trip to Ventotene was to observe how birds
would follow us until a very definite point, and then suddenly disappear.
Also, the instructions to launch a lifeboat are rather daunting…
The organizers had scheduled a lot of free time during the conference besides the scientific programme. I was therefore able to take a few pictures, such as some of the local lizards,
and some of the wonderful local cats.
The end of the week also coincided with the beginning of the ten-day long celebration of the island’s patron saint, Santa Candida. Among the festivities were the evening launches
(over a week) of huge hot-air balloons (“Mongolfieri”), with some fireworks
(note the amusing effects of my camera’s fireworks scene setting without tripod…). Some Galois-theoretic persiflage was also notable…
Update The scans of my lectures can be found here.