Upon returning to Athens from Santorini, Gilbert had to find accommodations. 

“We were practically in despair when [Olga Koundouriotis] thought of going to the Pension Merlin [on Merlin St. opposite the Royal Palace], between the Brit School and the Gr. Bretagne, a very good position. We had been there when I arrived and they said it was hopeless. This time the woman told us that in a few days the best room in the house would be free but that they wanted 75 dr a day for it but breakfast included. In the afternoon I went to see it and found it to be so attractive that I engaged it at once managing to beat down the price to 60 dr a day. … On Friday morn [19] yesterday moved into my new abode which is really delightful. I have a really big cupboard in which I can hang all my clothes & plenty of furniture of all sorts. It is a very high room & must be fully as big as the [Millers’] drawing room. It is in fact the best hotel bedroom I have ever had.”

The sudden influx of refugees into Athens raised similar challenges at the other foreign schools. The emergency compelled the Managing Committee of the American School reluctantly to allow female students to live in the same dormitory facilities with their male counterparts. The British School had already dealt with the advent of having to accommodate female students in 1920.

Almost invisible in Gilbert’s letters were three female students also studying at the Italian School that same year: Gina Reggiani, Emilia Zalapy, and Maria Caianiello, born respectively in 1896, 1895, and 1893. The families of the young women had entrusted the safety of their daughters to the protection of the Director, and the women were expected to be content with study in libraries and not to participate in excursions or excavations. Gilbert rarely refers to them at all, let alone as individuals, and seems to have had very little interaction with them, at least partly because the ‘girls are not in a convent but are staying in the school and that is why I have to clear out.’ (Thursday, 25 January 1923) Their presence was a distinct inconvenience to Gilbert, forcing him to move out of the School. In addition, the young women were all older than Gilbert and in fact he was the youngest of all of the students despite it being his second year in Greece. That he was so dismissive of the female academics reflects more widespread patronizing attitudes of that era in Italy generally.