Saturday, J., C., and I went off to the islands. The weather was gorgeous for the weekend, fortunately, for our wandering among giant glass sculpture installations and poor prepack tramezzi on Murano, the glorious house-colors and trick-or-treaters of Burano, and the quiet expanses of Torcello, including being inside S. Maria Assunta, where I'd not been for years. It's all about St. Heliodorus and the harrow of hell/last judgement shining in gold down the west wall. I've never seen so many keys to hell before.
A note of trick-or-treating: it's a relatively new import and has attached itself more to the festival of St. Martin than anything else. The kids all wore commercial costumes. Every last girl was a witch. The guys were either devils or undead. They went from shop to shop, begging treats from store-owners.
Sunday was a hat trick. We took the train out to Monselice in the Colli Euganei, bizarre, abrupt hills near Padova. Monselice was having its annual Tutti Santi festival; for a harvest festival, it had very little food indeed, more market instead. A local ex-church was having its local funghi club meeting, though, we we admired the bounty of commestibile and non.comm. mushrooms. Walking up the hill over Monselice through medieval and eighteenth century and Roman-recreation parkland extravagances, the views became steadily more spectacular. A Venetian knight owned the villa at the top were a pair of Australians were picknicking. Was the amphitheater above them folly, or ever used? Back at the bottom of the hill, the Botta foundtain was extaordinary, concrete, islands, and a lone tree which reminded C. of the tree of Gondor.
Ten minutes of driving passed us through Arqùa, where Petrarch spent his final years, and then on to an amazing restaurant up in the vineyards. We ate for the rest of the day, first here, then at our host's spacious barn-conversion ouse, and finally at our friend's pizzeria. In between times, we stopped by a franzoio, where olive oil is freshly pressed and saw the machinery demonstrated. Today, some last minute shopping, and meeting up with C., whom I know from the Oxford Food Symposium.
Finally, each night we were there, geesepalace took us rowing. I love the quiet of the city at night, so little traffic, reflections crisp and plastic with the water's movements. The most surrreal moment was rowing out of nighttime and into the enormous Geox advertisement currently overwhelming the little Bridge of Sighs. I have photos.