Tuesday, 29 September 2009


Here we are in Brescia, a much larger city than those we have visited, with the obvious exceptions of Rome and Florence. There is a lot of industry here, and a smaller historic centre.
In Italy on Mondays most places are closed, and as Mondays come around every seven days, we have to make do with rather more leisurely rambles. Today we tried churches. The maps we have are not sufficiently detailed, and sometimes it seems that the historic churches are closed, either permanently or for restoration. Nevertheless we have found several churches to wonder at.

We came across one from the back entrance and spent a lot of time in close scrutiny, then came out the front entrance to find ourselves near an absolutely huge hole, immensely deep. We had no idea what it could be but the hotel staff informed us that Brescia is building an extensive metro. Eat your heart out Sydney. In Rovereto there is to be a referendum on whether to construct a ring road. Again, eat your heart out...

This afternoon we spent more time in search of churches but could not find some of them, despite following all the signs. The ones we found seemed permanently closed.

We are very close to the Duomo (cathedral) and last night there was a show of fashion and design in the piazza. We watched for a while and saw children,s wear and then underwear, and the models, as well as walking across the catwalk, had to balance rich and complicated cakes.. We went back to the hotel but the loud compere and the music continued until quite late, but fortunately the drums were not prominent. In order to put this show on the piazza was covered with sand, then turf, and potted plants including quite large trees were put in place to represent a garden. Today we watched it all being dismantled. It must have cost heaps.

Naturally I have taken lots of photos. My new camera seems good although I have not managed yet to take more than a cursory glance at the manual, but I forgot the charger and the battery has now run down yet again. I managed to get it recharged in Florence and then again in Trento, in Florence they charged 8 euros and in Trento nothing. I did take my old camera so can keep taking photos.

In Brescia there are very large numbers of Africans and Middle Eastern people. Many must be refugees or illegal immigrants. Italy has cracked down on the entry of people from Libya, but each year thousands have entered, and it makes the numbers trying to get to Australia seems absolutely minimal. From the little we can see Africans seem to be in menial jobs, and there are many selling illegal copies of bags, etc. There are many families here and we saw children coming out of school this afternoon and there seemed to be more non italians than Italians.

Tomorrow we hope to see the museums, and then on Thursday we go to the Citta Alta of Bergamo, a small and apparently beautiful city, and from there we travel to Milan airport and commence the long trip home, arriving next Monday morning. We have had a most enjoyable and interesting time with no cross words and much to discuss each day. Dr P is well and says he is missing me, but has been well cared for.

Friday, 25 September 2009

From Trento

I am halfway trhough my trip to Italy and it has been so very enjoyable, albeit exhausting. We have had no disasters, and have managed the travelling by train well, get on very well together, and the itinerary is very successful. There has been little free time or internet access, but today we arrived in Trento and are staying in a very attractive hotel with a computer, which, alas in Windows. This, combined with an Italian keyboard, and my very poor typing skills, does not make for efficient use of a computer and I miss my iMac.

So far we have been to Rome, Florence and Ferrara and are now in Trento, a small and busy little city with a large student population. It is very beautiful. we have walked around it to get our bearings and tomorrow intend to visit the historic places thoroughly. This is where the Council of Trent met, over about twenty years. Surprisngly we have seen lots of young babies and children, which makes me wonder whether the Italian birth rate is rising. Lots of African pedlars, even this far north, and even someone selling Peruvian clothing.

The fashionable colour this season is purple and the clothes here are very very stylish. I did some shopping in Florence, and from now on am abstaining from all temptation, except for a particular Italian peppermint, which is to die for. Afer looking for it unsuccesfuuly elsewhere I now find it is available in supermarkets.

Naturally I hace taken lots of photos, which in all probability no one but me will ever look at. I bought new camera, but forgot to take the battery charger with me. I managed to get it charged in Florence and then again in Trento.

As this computer is about to disconnect me, that is all for now. Ciao a tutti.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

The last post (for a while)

Today is the departure day, and I am checking the computer while I wait for the transport to the airport. As far as one can tell, everything is organised. Yesterday I made a cake for Dr P and I have just taken out of the oven a batch of Anzac biscuits, so he can indulge his sweet tooth.

Apparently there are some people in this world who can leave their packing until the last minute, and then fling everything into a bag, and get it exactly right. I am not such a person, so it has been an arduous process, but finally the suitcase is downstairs, the carry on luggage is ready and the documents and finances all set - except that I seem to have mislaid a key card. There is a spare - just as well. Guidebooks are packed, and some fiction, not to mention the iPod for the music and the new camera and its complicated manual. Note to self - don't buy a new anything two days before departure: it is asking for trouble. My will has been updated and revised, and signed. I had to hunt down my neighbours to witness it for me. Obviously this had to be done in case the plane crashes.

My travelling companion says she is a light packer. Obviously she is going to rely on my guidebooks...

When I travel I get twitchy and nervous, and need to arrive in plenty of time. There seems to be much to panic about - will Dr P be all right in my absence and will his family take good care of him? Should I chuck out all the flowers even though they are not dead yet? Will the garden and plants be watered? Will I be able to find things when I return - from past experience the memory of everyday things gets totally displaced by the memory of the travel arrangements?

Nothing is ever totally under control, but as far as possible what should have been done has in fact been done, and soon I will be in the air anticipating the joys of travel.

Monday, 7 September 2009

The trivia of the day

There was a wild storm in the late afternoon - the sort that makes you run around and check all the doors and windows. The rain bashed against the house, coming from the west, and by the time I had closed the windows, lots of water had been driven in underneath the doors to the balcony on the middle level. Three towels got sodden as a result. Lightning flashed and there were some thundery rumbles. Then as we watched the news, the night sky behind the news readers kept showing lightning flashes. Reality as we watched!

When I went outside to close the garage door it would not work. Turned out someone must have reached up and switched off the power to the roller door. Nice! Thanks, mate.

The weekend was spent going through all the things on my desk, sorting them into categories, putting them into folders, and then transferring them upstairs to the new two drawer filing cabinet that I raced out and bought last week. When I got it home I could not find its keys, so had to ring the shop and seek help. Somehow I assumed the keys would be in the lock, but no!
Obviously my eyesight is getting worse, as it transpired that the keys were in a clear plastic envelope stuck with clear tape to the clear plastic wrapping, and thus the dull silver of the keys blended nicely and invisibly with the dull grey of the cabinet. Being told this made me feel like a real dill. Especially since I did the helpless, hopeless little old lady act, evidently with a convincing air of verisimilitude. The cabinet is now in my bedroom cupboard, out of sight.

Part of my daily routine is to revise my travel summary document, which I will then email to myself, replete with scanned copy of passport and travel insurance. The phone card had to be checked. It had expired, but they waved a magic wand and reactivated it. I think I was talking to someone in India but fortunately we could understand each other. Then there is always the packing panic to contend with. I checked the baggage allowance - 40 kg - how can anyone lug that much around with them, especially on the way over, before any shopping can have been done?

However! I really am going to Italy. From the time I studied history at at school and encountered the art and learning of the Renaissance, it has been one of my abiding passions. I started learning the language while still at school, forgot a lot of it, and began again after my divorce. Isn't it interesting how unhappiness and misery manage to stimulate other interests, learning and different activities? And so you manage to heal.

Dr P gave me a trip early in our relationship, and I went with my third sister. We had six weeks away, and went to Paris as well as Italy. I was ecstatic, but my poor sister, who had never been away from home before, was desperately homesick. She cried every day and rang home constantly. I always knew I would love the country, and I did and still do, notwithstanding all its problems. It is so incredibly beautiful, the people are warm, generous and helpful, the history is splendid and fascinating, and so much of our civilisation originated there. Since that first trip Dr P, who is very generous in this way, has given me others, but with his increasing frailty and forgetfulness, I believed that it would not be possible for me to go away again. Even going to see family in Canberra or Melbourne is difficult. When my dearest friend died a year ago I went to her funeral, but had to come rushing home the next day, as Dr P had neglected himself, and was taken to hospital. So to be given the opportunity to have several weeks away is wonderful, and I am truly grateful. I hope he will be all right during my absence. And maybe his family will realise and understand better how much care I give him.

Five days to go! Then that long, long trip, with almost no sleep, and on Sunday afternoon, we arrive. I wish I could take some crochet with me to do on the flight, but apparently plastic crochet hooks are dangerous weapons and are prohibited. Easy to read books will have to suffice.

Dr P keeps asking me why I don't try another country, and the answer is that I have not finished Italy yet.

The weekend was spent going through all th

Friday, 4 September 2009

Looming touring

I, Persiflage, am going to Italy with a friend for three weeks from next Saturday night - barring disasters - and thus my mind is not totally focussed on my blog. Instead it is making lists, and working towards getting everything organised. Some of the work is being done very systematically, others rather haphazardly, a tiny bit at a time, or as I think of them. Naturally the best laid plans of mice and Persiflage are subject to disruption by unplanned events. Far be it from me to complain - but:

The printer broke down. The ink carriage would not move, and made a fearfully alarming and horrid rattle. I sought help from my local Cartridgeworks shop, which is run by a couple of very helpful blokes. They have a man on call who mends printers, and so I heaved it down the stairs, out to the car, drove around desperately seeking a parking spot and dropped it off, and some days later got it back, all nicely mended. Somehow we managed not to need to print anything in the meantime. All was well, or so I thought.

Next it stopped printing in all colours despite the ink tanks still containing ink, so the nice men said they would clean it out for me by soaking it in some goop. (That's what they said.) It took three days, and as I had to print out my argomento for the Italian class, I connected the other printer, which is really intended for the computer I discarded when I turned to the iMac, and which Dr P uses for his card games. I felt quite techno-accomplished, despite the fact that the printer did not come with a printed cheat sheet and I had to insert a CD into the computer and follow the instructions that way. Naturally the CD did not tell me how to insert the ink tanks so that took several precious minutes. Eventually all was working, I printed the argomento, and rushed off to the class, which was the last of the series, due to the travel plans of three quarters of the class members. This class was a one-off evening class and we had a light meal, and talked so much about life, the universe, etcetera, that we never got around to my argomento, which suited me fine as it really was a rushed job.

In between usual domestic tasks and doing all my fun things (I went gathering cumquats again and made more marmalade) I am trying to pack, and to make sure everything is organised, like getting currency, making sure all my prescriptions are filled, and typing the details of the trip - the flights, the hotels and the contacts.

My new iPod needs to be filled with music and podcasts. A week went by without my using it, and then when I got it out the other day I noted the battery was low. When I tried to charge it later that day nothing happened: not a flicker of a response. I read the manual, I plugged it in and out, I jiggled it, and beat my brains out, all to no avail. My mind willow-walied about how I had only had it for five weeks and surely it could not be broken already??? Into my crowded schedule I squeezed in an appointment with a Genius at the Apple shop in the city, where the device was tested, found to be OK, got partially charged, and I was recommended to re-download iTunes. Having done that, at home, the iPod then accepted recharging. It is all very puzzling. And all these little hitches just gobble precious time.

Inspired by all this techno-success, I went to upload my latest photos. My Canberra daughter and her children came to stay last weekend (involving babysitting, making fruit and vegetable juice in my juice machine, carefully tossing a coin to determine which child had first go at inserting fruit, and then allowing four pieces per child per go before switching turns, sternly quelling incipient tantrums, joint cake and biscuit making so as to celebrate my daughter's birthday, and lots of time at the parks).

Where was I? The camera! It seemed most reluctant to upload anything, and went into total go-slow mode, before suddenly seething with activity and loading, much to my surprise, lots of old black and white baby photos which had been copied and put on a CD. Apart from the alarm it caused me, it was delightful to see all these baby photos on the computer screen and to remark upon how totally beautiful all my babies were.

The trip to Italy is happening because SD3 offered to look after her father to enable me to go, which is very kind of her. She won't be here for the entire duration, so extra help is being given by SD1 and her older son. I am trying not to panic about how they will cope as once I am on the plane there is nothing I can do about anything. The freezer is full, lots of shopping has been done, the beds will have clean sheets on them, and I will leave behind me a clean and tidy house.

Part of my preparations include visits to various physiotherapists, for my neck and head, my feet and legs and my back. In fact, there does not seem to be much of me which does not require regular treatment! Packing takes forever. I am not a light packer, and the decision making process can only be described as protracted. My mind envisages endless weather possibilities. Guidebooks must be selected, the dictionary packed, entertaining but disposable novels chosen.

I'm so excited! So much so that I am contemplating buying a new camera next week! I bet I can cope with one more techno-marvel!