As I’ve mentioned a few times, I really enjoyed Padua. After visiting Venice, I was glad we weren’t staying there, not just because of the Acqua Alta, but also because Padua was such a lively place, and lively, not with tourists, but with ordinary people. Perhaps too lively the morning we left, but that was…unusual. I also felt a little claustrophobic wandering in those Venetian alleys - they’re narrow the buildings are a few stories high, it’s super quiet because there’s no vehicular traffic, and hardly anyone lives there I’m big on atmosphere, that’s true. I like misty, moody and melancholic – how could I not, since that’s practically a self-description? I thought I was, constitutionally speaking a Venice person before I went there. But as it turned out, I much preferred Padua, where the streets were busy with pedestrians and bicyclists from dawn to late evening, where markets bustled, and where I could see a little bit more of the sky.
Quite honestly, that surprised me. I had assumed that we would stay in Venice for a bit when I started thinking about this trip, but the difference in cost eventually tipped the balance for me. I found myself quite relieved that things had developed that way once I’d spent time in both places.
The only negative about Padua was that the panhandlers – I’m not going to call them beggars – were pretty aggressive. The most aggressive I’ve encountered in Europe. You walk by a guy propped up against a wall and he reaches out and touches you, “Signora, signora….” he says. You stop to look in a store window, and they come right up to you, hands open. They try to sell you small packs of tissue, for some reason. I wasn’t crazy about that. There were times it almost verged on the menacing.
Someone just wrote me that begging is illegal in Assisi, and it struck me that yes, this is the first place I’ve seen on this trip with no beggars…
Home/roadschooling is going fine. I guess. They know a lot about St. Anthony of Padua, St. Francis, the French Revolution and the Roman Empire, and they could give you a tour of Paris on the Metro system unassisted and they could probably figure out a train schedule from point A to point B almost anywhere in western Europe and wouldn’t do too badly on a bus either. So I guess they’ve learned something…
We’re in Assisi now. I re-read Fr. Augustine Thompson’s great biography in preparation, and continue to return to it as we see more of the St. Francis sites. I’m grateful for the opportunity to really deepen my experience of St. Francis. I feel as if I knew nothing about him before, and that was probably almost true.
I will be staging my own anti-austerity protest against this Italian hotel bathroom. I had read reviews of the hotel that praised it in general, but deducted points for this arrangement. I confess that I really didn’t understand the descriptions well enough. I had no idea it was….like this.
I would say that one of the greatest inventions of recent years has been the harnnassing of radio waves or whatever that enable tour guides to speak to their groups via mikes and headphones, greatly reducing the din in major sites. I would say that, and of course I just did, but I do regret the fact this great invention makes it that much more difficult to eavesdrop on college professors speaking in your language who are explaining interesting things, like the frescoes in the Upper Basilica of St. Francis. Thanks for what I heard, Prof!
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