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Archive for May, 2009

Still in Italy

Hi, everyone. Still in Italy. I know. It’s tough. I wanted to let you know there is a new post about our trip at my other, more personal blog, http://www.kimberlyscraftini.wordpress.com.

We are in Rome at the moment and it is nothing if not overwhelming. I have made it to St. Peter’s Basilica. Wow. Saw several people there walking around and praying their rosaries at the same time. Went to the Vatican Museums. Wow. It did make me stop and think, maybe they could sell a gold reliquary or two and feed some poor or save a few closing American parishes? Now don’t all write in mad at me, I am just sayin’ it was a bit overwhelming. Of all the places we have been Rome is my least favorite – dirty and chaotic, but the sites are awesome. Went to the Borghese Gallery, too. Holy mamma!

I’ll be back at my desk on Tuesday next and will tell you about some prayer beads and prayer places I saw. Not the least among them will be the sanctuary holding St. Catherine’s mummified head.

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In Venice

I just posted an account of our time in Venice at my other blog, http://www.kimberlyscraftini.wordpress.com. I have seen much to write about here on prayer and contemplation and prayer beads, but have such limited internet time it may have to wait til I get home. let me tell you one thing – last night, here in Moneglia, Terry and I wandered into a local church and a choir of one man and several women were performing an eveningsong in Latin. They were somewhere we could not see them and we had the sanctuary to ourselves. Magical!

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Trento

Go to my other blog, http://www.kimberlyscraftini.wordpress.com to see a new blog entry about this city.

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We have been here three days and have decided to stay. Sorry, everyone, never coming back. Okay, coming back when the $$$ runs out. Maybe.

Yes, I am here, on the River Po

Yes, I am here, on the River Po

We spent our first three days in the city of Torino where Terry gave a talk about some program he does with Lawrence Berkeley called “Chombo.” I don’t know what it is, but I know the astrophysicists in Torino were very excited about it. Terry’s talk on the subject, delivered at Torino’s university on Tuesday, was a success. Everyone was very happy he had come – especially us.

While we were here we were hosted about town by an Italian astrophysicist named Andrea who really made us feel very welcome. He picked us up at our hotel on Sunday night – our first night – and took us out nearby for some great pizza, vino and limoncello. The next day, he and Terry went to the university to meet the bigwigs and I was off on my own in Torino.

Which is a lovely city, let me tell you. Rick Steves does not even mention it in his guide, and he should. Everywhere I went, my eyes found something wondrous to look at. I walked miles and miles, down a major street called the Via Madama Cristina and came upon an open air market with fruit, veggies, meats, cheeses, clothes jewelry. I did not buy a thing, but I loved taking pictures. From there I walked to the old downtown area in search of some lunch. Along the way I took pictures of balconies – every apartment and house in Torino has at least one and they seem to be part backyard, part living room, part clothes dryer. The majority have potted plants and flowers and some even had dogs and cats hanging out of them! The lucky ones have views of the Po River, which runs through town, or of the Alps, which ring the city on three sides. Gorgeous!

Market on Via Madama Cristina

Market on Via Madama Cristina

I was also struck by the doors of the city, which are very large and usually wooden. Some were so ornately carved I could just stand there and admire the craftsmanship. Generally, these are the front doors to apartment buildings, not offices. They are gorgeous, and several times I saw people – perhaps what we in NYC would call “the super” – polishing the brass and wood. So far we have not had too much sticker shock, as the dolloor is pretty good against the Euro. After lunch, I walked back to our hotel taking a long route along the Po, which is flanked by a lovely greeway and park, which kinda reminds me of Central Park.

For dinner that night, Andrea took us to a meat restaurant which is the Italian word for “butcher.” We had veal carpaccio (!!!) and the men had this giant t-bone for two and I had liver and onions that had been cooked a la Torinese in red wine. There was dessert and limoncello, of course.

Terry stayed up way too late this night to finish work on his talk, which he was delivering the next day, Tuesday, at 3. But both of us were up at 6 – jetlag! – and decided to talk a walk along the Po. We camre across this wonderful old palace called Palazzo Valentino, which was once a royal residence and is now home of the university’s architecture school. Imagine havin an office here! I suppose it is cold in the winter.

Andrea picked us up and drove us up to a small town in the hills above Torino where the university’s observatory sits. The first thing the astrophysicists did was escort us to the roof so we could see the view of the Alps. We were also treated to special seats in the new planetarium where we watched a show called “Maravellioso del Universo” – or something like that. We were the only people over 10 in the room – expect for a couple of teachers. The children were super well-behaved and when the host at the front gave an introduction to the movie in Italian, she said something that made all the little heads in the room turn around to look at us in the back row! We were celebrities.

In the Piazza Reale, on the border of the Quadirilateral section

In the Piazza Reale, on the border of the Quadirilateral section

Later that day, while Terry gave his talk, I went to the Quadrilateral section of town – the oldest section – and looked for the Shroud of Turnin. I finally found it in an old church – the Duomo – and let me tell you it was totally anti-climactic. First off, the church is a bit dumpy and gaudy. You walk in and see a touched-up large photo of the shroud. Then you walk to the back of the church where the “true shroud” is kept on a large table, under a cover and behind glass. In short, you never see the shroud. Which I knew – nonetheless, it was super –anti-climactic. I was lookin at a table I was not aloud to photograph. So I sat for a while and watched other people look at the shroud. One woman – I think a local – was praying to it, her lips moving silently and for a long time, as she stood right in front of the glass. Then a busload of old Germans came in to have a look and stayed maybe two minutes and left. I followed soon.

Then I went to the Piazza Castello in search of the entrance to the Gates of hell, which are supposedly under this square, in the sewer. I found the sewer. That’s about all. I grabbed some gelato – my first in Italia – and then just as I was wishing I could find a yarn store, I FOUND A YARN STORE. They are nothing like we know them – a colorful jumble of skeins you can fondle and hold. Here, they have very few yarns in the store and they are arranged in orderly rows behind glass. The proprietor pulls them out for you one at a time and tells you about their qualities. I lucked upon a lovely store with equally lovely people in it. As I was deciding on a purchase, I heard a chain jingle and asked if there was a dog behind the counter. Si – Camilla, a golden cocker spaniel, just like my first dog, Roxie. There were many doggie kisses on either side of the counter and soon pictures of both of our pets were coming out. We didn’t speak each other’s language, but since we both loved dogs and knitting, we were fast friends.

In the knitting store

In the knitting store

Dinner that night was out in the open on the Piazza San Carlos, just in front of the Museo of the Risorgiamento. Andrea brought several colleagues, plus his girlfriend, Claudia, and her two darling daughters, Lucia (5) and Anna (10). The kids and I sat together for our pizza and we had a ball. Afterwards, we went running around on the plaza chasing after dogs. They love them as much as I do. I hope they come and visit us soon.

This morning we hopped the train for Trento, which is where I am writing this from. What scenery! I’ll have more soon.p5050068

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