The Dante Alighieri Society was and is an international organization intended to promote the spread of the Italian language and culture. The local branch in Athens invited Gilbert to present a public lecture.
Gilbert spoke about his trip in June 1921 to the ancient Greek colony of Cyrene in eastern Libya being excavated by the Italians. Many sculptures had been discovered there including the Three Graces, the subject of one of Gilbert’s papers at the University of Rome. He subsequently though still an undergraduate published an article about “Hellenistic Sculpture from Cyrene” in the Journal of Hellenic Studies. It was a dangerous trip, however, as the local Arabs were still fighting against the Italian invaders. Even as a student, Gilbert was fearless.