The Heart Can Never Have Too Much

Orange on the Vaporetto

Orange on the Vaporetto

Self is back in the apartment in San Toma’.  The trip to Padua was over in the blink of an eye.

Blue on the Express Train (back to Venice From Padua)

Blue on the Express Train (to Venice From Padua)

Here is the thing about Italy:  everything —  and self does mean everything —  is open to negotiation.  In Padua, Margarita and self got on the 11:44 a.m. train back to Venice.  We were informed by a conductor that we were on the wrong train:  the train we had caught was an express; our tickets were for the regular train.  Could we pay the fare difference, self asked?  Si, for 30 more euro was the reply.  You take credit cards, self asked.  Si.  So then Margarita and self began to look for seats.  But the train was absolutely full.  We finally planted ourselves by the entrance to the compartment.  The conductor appeared.  Now, he said, since we hadn’t gotten any seats, we needed to pay him only 16 more euro for the two of us, instead of the 30 euro we’d originally been quoted.  Grazie, grazie!  A few stops later, the train began to empty out.  Margarita and self sat.  Self half-expected the conductor to come back and say, You are sitting!  Now you must pay 14 more euro!  But the man had apparently vanished for good.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Further Peregrinations: Padua

The Eremitani Church

The Eremitani Church

This evening, self is in Padua.  Si, señoras y señores, self has once again ventured beyond La Serenissima.  If you recall, dear blog readers, only yesterday self was in Vicenza (hometown of Antonio de Pigafetta, he the chronicler of The First Voyage Around the World).  Today, she ventured not quite as far:  that is, she and Margarita wound up in Padua.  Which, contrary to what the guidebooks will tell you, is not a little town.  In fact, it has traffic.  And not just one Best Westerns:  two.  Margarita and self are ensconced in the Best Western “Galileo” (Self is quite sure this stay can be added to her points), which is on the route of Padua Bus # 18.

Today, Margarita and self again went separate ways, and somehow self stumbled into a Church in a park, which had a sign right by the entrance that explained all about the 12th century Bakers Code of Conduct.  The church was called “Eremitani.”  Self had never heard of it before, but presumed it had something to do with bakers.  Self is always up for entering a new church because then she gets to make her three wishes all over again (Totalling the number of new churches she’s entered in the past week, she figures she’s been able to make at least 3 dozen wishes.  How fabulous!)

Anyhoo, it was a very beautiful church.

More of the Eremitani Church

More of the Eremitani Church

Today, siyempre, self had many adventures.  Self is like the Don Quijote of Filipina travelers.  She has so many ridiculous adventures, they wouldn’t fit into one book.  Not unless the book had 800 pages.  Suffice it to say, today she traversed the Via Dolorosa of Vio Venezia (or Via Venice, as the Best Western receptionist told self three times over the phone; why she thought self couldn’t handle the Italian pronunciation is beyond her).  In boiling noonday sun.  Poor Margarita!  She certainly didn’t know that having the Big C would not inure her from being subjected to such humiliations!  But, ixnay.  When one travels with self, it is all about endurance.  Which is why The Man very wisely has avoided traveling with self, for the past couple of years.

But it’s OK, dear blog readers!  Margarita is perfectly alive!  For, as they say in some old Hollywood movies, she is “a real trooper”!

Chairs -- Yes, Chairs!  --  in a side chapel of the Eremitani Church

Chairs — Yes, Chairs! — in a side chapel of the Eremitani Church

Self has looked up this church in her DK Eyewitness Guide to Venice & the Veneto (This guidebook is highly recommended.  This and Alexei J. Cohen’s Moon Handbook of Italy), and it was apparently built sometime between 1276 and 1306.  W. O. W.

Self needs to chew on that for a bit.  Ciao for now, dear ones.

Peregrinations, Venice Day 6: The Venetian Lagoon and Vicenza

Today, once again, self had many, many adventures — so many they are impossible to list.

She is still in Venice.

She decided to take a different vaporetto from the one she usually takes going home, and ended up riding all around the Venetian Lagoon. She saw this indescribably gorgeous church (whose name she had to look up in a guidebook after arriving home; unlike Margarita, self is not a Walking Encyclopedia!  The church is San Michele, and the island it’s on is Isola.  Isola, self just learned, is also referred to as “Cemetery Island” — self believes Ezra Pound is buried here.  In fact, the vaporetto stop says simply:  Cemeteria)

Unfortunately, self does not know the name of this church, which she saw from a vaporetto that was en route to Murano.

She met a friendly dog in a park (in Vicenza, only a short train ride from Venice).  Margarita has been taking photograph after photograph of The Dogs of Venice.  There are so many.  Well, now self can tell Margarita that Venice isn’t the only Italian city with splendiferous dogs!  Because today, in Vicenza, self saw many many characters of the canine variety, of which the below was possibly the cutest (It was peeing in front of the monument to Antonio de Pigafetta, chronicler of “the first voyage around the world.”  If self hadn’t decided to take a shortcut to the train station through a park, she would never have encountered it/them:  either the Pigafetta monument, or the dog)

A New Friend (A Resident of Vicenza)

A New Friend (A Resident of Vicenza)

Self walked all around the city of Vicenza today.  She entered the cathedral but was a little disappointed.  It was only yesterday, after all, that she had been stunned by the Tintorettos in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco (San Rocco, or Saint Roch, self is proud to tell dear blog readers, is the Patron Saint of Contagious Diseases), and it was a bit disconcerting to discover that the large bouquets of flowers in front of the main altar of the cathedral in Vicenza were plastic.

But in one of the side altars nearest the entrance, there was a very interesting display:

An interesting exhibit in the Vicenza cathedral.

An interesting exhibit in the Vicenza cathedral.

For a while self almost convinced herself that she was gazing at the Shroud of Turin.  But she remembered (after a minute or so) that she was in Vicenza, not Turin.  So this display had to be of another shroud, one whose existence she had not heretofore been aware of!  And since the only signs underneath the display were in Italian, self could not decipher their meaning.  But here is the first half of the sign in Italian:

Ecco L’Uomo dei Dolori!  La Sindone e Testimone della Passione del Redentore.  Volgi Lo Squardo Fidente A Colui che hanno trafitto.

Margarita does not speak Italian, but she is fluent in Spanish, and while self knows very well that Spanish and Italian are not the same language, Margarita can figure out much of the import of Italian signs.  Only, today, Margarita went to explore the Jewish Quarter of Venice, and self went to Vicenza.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Evening, Venice Day 5

Evening on the Grand Canal

Evening on the Grand Canal

Saw three churches today. At each one, self made the requisite three wishes (a Filipino practice, Margarita never heard of it).

In the wee hours of the morning, self put out the garbage, then distinctly heard the voices of two men discussing the garbage, poking around in it, etc. Self assumed they were the garbage pick-up men, but a few hours later, saw everyone’s garbage still on the street. Was there a strike? So who were those two men? What a mess the streets are today: the garbage seems to have been picked over, perhaps by birds.

This evening, went with Margarita to a talk on the Vatican by a retired BBC reporter. Very interesting. The retired BBC reporter maintained that the new pope, Francis, was as surprised as everyone about his election. No, his spontaneity is not part of some “grand plan,” it is simply a manifestation of his more open nature.  The previous pope had a butler with delusions of grandeur, who eavesdropped on his conversations and illegally downloaded copies of sensitive Vatican documents, then stored the printouts in a cabinet in his house.  He was transferred to an administrative position in a hospital.

After the talk and a small reception, we took the vaporetto home. They are crowded at this time of day.  But, ah, how beautiful the light is over the water.

Taking the Vaporetto Home to San Toma

Taking the Vaporetto Home to San Toma

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Venice Day 4

Signed up for Very Very Expensive Tour of Doge’s Palace, referred by another writer from Hawthornden.

Tour met at 8:45 a.m. (Absolutely no stragglers! warned the tour brochure). Set alarm for 6 a.m.

Slept at 1 a.m., but new cell phone (bought while on stopover at Frankfurt, instructions are in German, very confusing) woke her right on time!

She made it. Walk only took her about 20 minutes!

What was hard was finding the Doge’s Palace. YOU JUST TRY it after being sleep-deprived, dear blog readers!

Where Self and Margarita Are Staying at the Moment

Where Self and Margarita Are Staying at the Moment

View from the Ponte del Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs), the Bridge That Led From the Doge's Palace to the Prisons

View from the Ponte del Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs), the Bridge That Led From the Doge’s Palace to the Prisons

Self took this picture of San Marco Cathedral while waiting for the rest of her tour group to arrive.

Self took this picture of San Marco Cathedral while waiting for the rest of her tour group to arrive.

Venice Day 3: Cloudy

The Lion of Venice in San Marco Square

The Lion of Venice in San Marco Square

Self thinks this young graduate rocks the grey suit/ grey sneakers!

Self thinks this young graduate rocks the grey suit/ grey sneakers!

It was graduation day. The streets and squares were crowded with young people wearing crowns of laurel leaves and bearing armloads of congratulatory flowers.  “DoctoreDoctore!”  chanted crowds of well-wishers.  Very exciting.  Somehow, Margarita and self got pushed along by the throng towards San Marco Square, and suddenly there we were, in an unimaginably open space, facing the sea.

San Marco Square on a Cloudy Afternoon

San Marco Square on a Cloudy Afternoon

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


Venice Day 2

Fashionable Flood Boots!

Fashionable Flood Boots!

We were somewhere by the Rialto.  Self has been very good and not gone into a single store, not even a grocery.  Well, she and Margarita did wander into Flavia’s, which sells costumes, but were just extremely nosy and pried into everything and tried on masks.  We will return to buy, because Flavia herself was at the store and was the soul of graciousness!

Anyhoo, self could not resist posting at least one picture from today’s adventures, and this is a picture of a store window display.  Note the extremely super-tall boots!  Self thought at first they were made for a giant, but Margarita (who knows everything) said they needed them here because of the floods.  But, being Italian boots, they must be in fashionable lime green.

The women here are so beautiful.  As beautiful as the women self saw in India last year.  But with the added “zing” of flaunting the skinniest jeans self has ever seen a woman wriggling into.  Italian women have such style.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Venice Day 1

Interior:  Santa Maria Gloriosa del Frari

Little Bridge, vicinity of Campiello S. Toma

Margarita and I had very fine Turkish dinner (dolmas, spanakopita, and couscous with lamb and vegetables.)  Our waiter told us that the restaurant was the only dining establishment in Venice to offer couscous with lamb.  Dee-lish!  Afterward, the management sent out two complimentary glasses of limoncello (Very good; probably, addictive) for us, and Margarita and self tossed our very enjoyable first night in Venice.

Self's Partner in Crime:  Margarita Donnelly, Looking Radiant!

Self’s Partner in Crime: Margarita Donnelly, Looking Radiant!

The Campo San Toma.  We barely saw any tourist wandering our neighbordhood.

The Campo San Toma. We barely saw any tourists wandering our neighbordhood.

Detail of tomb of  (Goldoni?) in the Church of Santa Maris

Detail of tomb of (Goldoni?) in the Church of Santa Maria

This Virgin Mary, of aof somewaht more modern visage tha the rest of the Church Figures.  Notice the piles of photograph at her feet.  Wonder what they're for?

This Virgin Mary, of of somewaht more modern visage than the rest of the
Church Figures. Notice the piles of photographs at her feet. Wonder what they’re for?

And now, to bed, as it has been a very, very long and exciting day.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Beginning: OUT STEALING HORSES, by Per Petterson, Anne Born, Translator

p. 13:

At some point while I was asleep it started to snow; and I am sure I was aware of it, in my sleep, that the weather changed and grew colder, and I knew I feared the winter, and I feared the snow if there was too much of it, and the fact that I had put myself in an impossible position, moving here.  So then I dreamt fiercely about summer and it was still in my head when I woke up.  I could have dreamt of any summer at all, but I did not.  It turned out to be a very special summer, and I still think of it now when I sit at the kitchen table watching the light spread above the trees by the lake.  Nothing looks as it did last night . . .

There is such a beautiful and evocative stillness in this passage!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


There are things she has to decide:

  • Should she bring a pound of Peet’s coffee, because Margarita said it would be nice to be able to make coffee in the apartment and her supply is getting low?
  • Should she forget toting along a few of her favorite magazines:  One Story and The New Yorker?
  • Should she bring along Traveler’s Tales:  Italy?

Here are the books she is definitely bringing with her:

  • Alexei J. Cohen’s Moon Handbook of Italy
  • DK Eyewitness Guide to Venice
  • Per Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses (She began it last night:  yes, she did indeed read to the very last page of Don Quijote)
  • Little Heathens:  Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm in the Great Depression, by Mildred Armstrong Kalish (The book title is almost as long as the book!)

She’s also bringing a print-out of all the movie locations used in the Nicolas Roeg movie Don’t Look Now (Just to show you the difference in approach:  Margarita’s all-important print-out is of the walks taken by Donna Leon’s Inspector Bruni!)

There are the directions to the apartment where Margarita will be waiting:  Vaporetto to San Toma, Stop # 2.  At end of calle, make a right.  Continue towards Campiello S. Toma.  Pass a bar (Ciak Uno).  Pass a little bridge.  Pass Casa Goldoni. Pass Nomboli Café.  Follow calle all the way down to the water, then make a right.  Look for apartment.  (Margarita’s directions read, verbatim:  “There is a right turn that needs to be made after the Casa Goldoni, but no street appears on the map, so the line running through the map just ends on the street Goldoni is on —  but there’s a right turn there somewhere!”)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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