Entering Venice from the Brenta Canal

A couple of weeks ago I had the immense pleasure of cruising the Brenta Canal from Padua to Venice.  I will be posting about that day soon.  In the meantime: spoiler’s alert! In this post I chronicle our sailing out of the Canal and into the Venetian Lagoon.

I can promise you that everything changes immediately: the scale, the weather, our speed, the traffic, the feeling.

 

 

 

 

 

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Still learning the Italian ropes: the ATM

Even after almost 3 years of full-time life in Italy, I am still learning.  I recently was able to open a kind of bank account here. This means that after 3 years, I can pay my rent online for the first time!  What an accomplishment!  It’s a long story about why it took this long, but most of it is that no Italian friend can truly understand how confusing it is to do something as simple as opening a bank account here for a foreigner.  And, btw, bank accounts are expensive in Italy.  They charge you a lot for holding your money.

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Be all of that as it may, I now have an Italian account that comes with a debit card and the ability to withdraw cash from certain ATMs across the country.

What I didn’t know was the etiquette involved.  Yesterday I went into the small room off a major street, within which I had spotted the correct ATM.  Someone was in the small room (it’s the size of a small walk-in closet), but there was no line, so I entered the room. The man who was already at the machine turned to stare at me, and for a split second, I thought he was offering to let me go in front of him to use the machine.

Then, I realized that he was not happy because I was in the room at all with him.  I found out that entering the closet with another person is not acceptable, even though I was nowhere near him and the machine.  But, at that moment, before the gravity of this sunk it, I just waved at him and said, “go ahead.”  Then I turned completely around and looked out the window so he wouldn’t think I was after his PIN. Ha ha…little did he know that I could watch him from close up and never remember the digits if my life depended on it. Numbers don’t compute in my brain.

The comedy of this situation is that I was lugging 3 large plastic bags full of wet laundry to a nearby laundromat.  I have a washer in my apartment, but nobody has a drier. I was on my way to dry towels and blankets–since fall is setting in–at the laundromat.  I specifically entered the glass bank ATM closet so I could set down these heavy bags.

The man finished his top secret transaction and left. I took my turn at the machine and tried 4 times to withdraw cash and, of course, I couldn’t get the machine to work for me. When I finally accepted defeat (as I have become adept at doing here in fair Italia), I turned to leave, and picked up my 3 heavy laundry bags.  I noted that there were about 4 or 5 relatively patient people waiting just outside the glass door to use the ATM when I finished.  As I left, I wanted to tell them thank you for waiting outside the glass closet, but of course I don’t know the Italian words for any of this.  My baby Italian would not deliver the sarcasm I would have wanted to portray.

Lesson learned: in Italy, where the concept of personal space doesn’t exist in lines at the supermarket, the pharmacy, the airport, the train station…that concept is alive and well at the ATM glass closet.  Silly me.

Giotto, Scrovegni Chapel, Padua; once is never enough

 

I had to go back to Padua to see the masterpiece of Medieval fresco painting and I’m so happy I did.  One, two, even three times in a lifetime is not enough.  I’m now at 4 times and counting.

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Tuscan sculptor, Giovanni Pisano, is also well-represented in the chapel.

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The brochure for the Chapel tells us this about the Scrovegni Chapel: “In 1300, the rich nobleman Enrico Scrovegni acquired the area of the Roman Arena [in Padova], on which he intended to build a fine town house.  Next to it, he had a chapel built and dedicated to the Holy Virgin, for the soul of his father Reginaldo, the usurer mentioned in the 17th canto of Dante’s ‘Inferno.’  Scrovegni commissioned Giotto to decorate the chapel with frescoes which, according to most reliable information, was done between 1303-05. The frescoes cover the interior walls and ceiling of the building completely.  The lower part of the blue star-spangled vaulted ceiling depicts the prophets and the important episodes in the lives of the Holy Virgin and Jesus Christ.  Above the main door is ‘The Last Judgment:’ Christ, as judge, is surrounded by the angels and the apostles; below him, to the right, are the Blessed; to the left, the Damned are depicted as suffering eternal punishment, according to medieval tradition.”

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The Florence of Telemaco Signorini; exhibition at Palazzo Antinori

Lovers of the ottocento and of old Florence will love the current exhibition at the Palazzo Antinori.  Entitled “The Florence of Giovanni and Telemaco Signorini” (father and son), the show runs through 10 November 2019.  For people like me, it is a delightful experience to not only see the show, but to also have a look at the piano nobile of the Antinori Palace.

The exhibition also includes a few paintings by contemporaries of the Signorini father/son painters. It includes: Ruggero Panerai, Luigi Gioli, Francesco Gioli, Giorgio Mignaty, Adolfo Tommasi, and Antonio Puccinelli.  There is also a sculpted bust of Telemaco Signorini by Giovanni Dupre.

Here’s what the brochure announces about this exhibition:

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Regarding the beautiful palazzo itself:

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Allora, now that I am done being a voyeur for the palazzo itself, let us look at some of the paintings in the exhibition: First up, a few paintings by Giovanni Signorini

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Above, Giovanni Signorini, Veduta dell’ Arno da Ponte alla Carraia, 1846

 

And now, for some paintings by Telemaco Signorini

 

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Above: Telemaco Signorini, Mercato Vecchio, 1882-83

 

 

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Above: Telemaco Signorini, Il ponte Vecchio a Firenze, 1880

 

 

 

 

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Some snapshots of Padua in September 2019 and playing around with my new camera

Last weekend I returned to Padua for another opportunity to see the Giotto frescoes at the Scrovegni Chapel.  Since the visits are only 20 minutes long, it takes me more than one trip to Padua to really see the frescoes as I want to see them.

But, I also wanted to return to Padua to enjoy more of the city, now that I have discovered it fully.  I went armed with my new fancy smartphone and its powerful camera.  Some of the pictures below are of pretty Padova and some are just experiments with my camera.

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I love any city with a street named for one of my favorite sculptors, Donatello.

 

The Botanic Garden of Padua dates back to 1545 and is regarded as the most ancient university garden in the world. Founded to foster the growth of medicinal plants, in Italian called semplice, since the remedies were obtained directly from nature without any manipulation. The garden was named Hortus Simplicium. The first keeper of the garden was Luigi Squalermo called Anguillara.

 

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Nymphaea:

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Below, fall blooming crocus:

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More water lilies:

 

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Random plant life:

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Nature with a background of Italian church bells:

 

 

Gigantic lily pads:

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The horticultural complex in Padua is very impressive and state of the art.

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Porta Portello:

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Reminders of the influence of Venice on Padua are everywhere in this city:

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Padova is surrounded by water.  The canals make lovely views. I love to think back to the times when people and goods moved here by gondole, burci and mascarete, all typical boats, along internal canals, following the waterways and floating under bridges.

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Padua has a lot of beautiful architecture.  I want to make another trip there to enjoy and photograph all the great sculptural embellishments on the palazzi.

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