I am so glad that my defense wasn't done in the old Medicine instruction room at the University of Padua. The better part of fifty imposing plush leather armchairs are lined up around a horseshoe-shaped table, each with their own microphone. In the center, at a rickety, tiny wooden desk, stands a single hard chair. Of course, being an Italian university, defenses are also open to the public.
The world's first anatomical theater stands within the walls of the Palazzo Bo, part of the University of Padua, then and now. I hadn't expected it to be so very compact. The theater could hold - at capacity - four hundred people standing, and was designed to do so as expeditiously as possible, to give all standers a good view of the cadaver. There couldn't have been more than a foot-and-a-half of depth in which to stand on each of the six (or seven) oval balconies encircling the space.
My father and I went to the David Chipperfield architectural exhibit currently on in the Palazzo del Giustizio, also in Padua. Slender wires, supporting the informative panels which comprised the bulk of the show, created rows of aerial bars in the air, obscuring the luminous colors of the intensely symbolic medieval frescoes on the walls above. I was surprised by how many of the Chipperfield buildings I've seen, at least under construction: the new BBC Scotland headquarters in Glasgow, just opposite the SECC where Worldcon was held; the new main Des Moines public library building; the new cemetery extension to San Michele here in Venice; a handful of building restorations and additions to the museum island in Berlin.
Of all the carriages on the train to pick, we managed to choose the one on which my mother and C. were riding!
Later yesterday, we drove through the Colli Euganei, old hills, the remnants of a volcano's rim, where thermal waters run deep. The hills are lovely, each a compact mound of trees and walking paths. The setting sun bathed them in pale light, the clouds mounting up spectacularly behind them as flocks of birds wheeled about. The town of Abano was all hotels, everywhere, all there to take advantage of the waters' healing properties.
At the Club Colli Euganei, a physical fitness club, nearly everyone who happened to arrive while we were touring the facility was a friend of my mother's. The club has organized trips to go on RAGBRAI, the annual bike ride accross Iowa, since the mid-90s.
In the evening, we each drank a glass of sparkling wine made by a friend of our host, L.: it had the smooth sweetness of a mellow dessert wine, but with the sparkle of fermentation. We shared one bottle, leaving him only one more left for some other occasion.