Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ponte Corvo

Just a pic of the canal that runs past Ponte Corvo in full Spring bloom. I am off to the mountains for the weekend. It's Labor Day tomorrow so I am taking advantage of the long weekend. A presto!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Strange Curious Objects

Padua is soon going to trash its public waste and recycling bins. These almost-alien colorful containers that occupy the city sidewalks will be permanently removed by summer, according to the city administration. They will be replaced by house pick-up, a rather American idea.

For some time now, Padua has done away with these big candy-colored mounds in the center of the city, where they just didn't fit in the narrow medieval cobble-stone by-ways, but this phenomenon will soon travel to the city outskirts, too.

I wanted to capture them with a warm sunset light as an "addio".

They are also poignant when thinking about the Naples rubbish dilemma that lasted throughout last summer and the idea that in some places, the trash just never gets taken away properly. Fortunately Padua is not one of them.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Official Club Alpino Italiano (CAI) Member

This document makes my initiation into the Italian mountain system official, I am a CAI member. This little booklet gets stamped and a sticker update every year and offers me discounts on mountain lodging, a subscription to a magazine, makes me part of a local association and, most importantly, guarantees me insurance in case of emergency, if ever I need to use a helicopter to be saved from a precarious position on a dangerous mountainside.

After hiking for about 6 years on high and sometimes dangerous peaks and plodding over glaciers, as well, not to mention the new introduction of rock climbing as a sport activity, I deserve this little "subscription" and testiment.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dedicated to Margaret

Although Margaret will probably not read this blog since she is not part of the Internet generation, I would still like to dedicate this sighting to her.

Today in between spring showers, I saw a little brown and black bunny rabbit munching on grass outside of the hospital which I pass on my way home on the bus from the city center. It's the first time I have ever seen one in Italy "in the wild". I am not even sure if the rabbit was not just a lost pet but it made me think of this women who loves the rabbits that live in her backyard in Baltimore. She has hosted me in her large house for years while I sojourn in my home town. Her generosity can never be repaid. Thank you!

Un grande abbraccio a te, Margaret, or "Margherita" in Italian, which also means "daisy".

The city lights up its past

Padua has started to artistically light some its best monumental features including the old walls, doors to the city and Roman arena. Here is a porta that faces south onto Via Bruno.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The horizon at Padova Est

Waves of white bounce across the horizon and contrast with the deep blue square block in the backround. The waves fade into the light sky. Vertical rises puncture the fluid horizon with their red spikes. There is a deep sense of distance and modernity to this landscape while the curves create a soothing effect on the spirit. These are the emotions of the new "viability" in Padua's landscape.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cuts and "extraneous" expenses?

It's a real shame to realize that this country's politicians and so selfish that this insist on having Italy vote for an electoral reform referendum after the European parliament elections and not at the same time. It is clearly a move on the part of the Lega Nord (Northern League) in the hope that not enough voters will cast their ballot for a referendum alone to make the vote valid. This way, the initiative will not pass, something that could hurt Lega's power as an autonomous party in Italy. The cost of this "extra" referendum day is estimated at between Euro 330m and 400m: closing public schools, paying for everything involved in this kind of vote.

This comes at a time when Italy has passed some critical cuts in school expenditures. The Minister of Education has decided to abolish the second teacher presence in the classroom for elementary school children. The problem is that currently the classes are growing in size and a single teacher will surely struggle at keeping up with the entire class' discipline, let alone be able to teach effectively. The Minister has declared that the savings from this decision will be Euro 287m. Looking at the figures, wouldn't it be smarter to keep the co-presence for the youngsters, maybe even spoiling them with attention to make them a brighter leading body for the future, and unify the referendum vote with an Election Day which is already on the calendar?

Yet again, the politicians are looking out for themselves and not the good of the country.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Wisteria Lane, Italian style

That time has come where the wisteria are blooming. Their honey scents are dripping from every fence and house. No one looks desperate in these houses, some of the most expensive real estate in town.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I caught a glimpse of yet another demolition site. At first I thought of how similar it looked to Aquila and the earthquake but I had to remember that I am in Padua. I may be living in a city that calmly complains about fog and doesn't have to worry about mass destruction on Abruzzo's level because we're not on a fault line, yet I have watched plenty of destruction lately. 3 buildings have been torn down within 1/2 a mile of my house:
1. the complex across the street
2. a house 2 doors down
3. today's house, basically around the bend from mine
Everyday there are trucks and crews and new cement and bricks and wires that are transported, arranged and set into place. Sundays have become surreal in their silence while the crews stay at home for a day of rest. I don't know what to do with the quiet anymore. It's been 2 1/2 yrs of this.

A scene from our honeymoon

Now my husband and I relive our honeymoon moments through our monitor's desktop display. Here we can remember the sunset in Isla Holbox, Mexico after a long day of driving through incredibly desolate roads full of butterflies, heat and tiny villages in the middle of the jungle.

It's been just over 6 months since we came back.

I can still feel the torid heat and humidity and sweat sometimes. Padua will have us sweating soon again.

Spring Melancholy

Kenny Random in Piazza Capitaniato

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ode to my bicycle

Her name is "Atala". She is a little small for me and red like a Ferrari. She is not particularly fast but I love using her to get around town. It's the only practical way to do it here in Padua, where bus service is awkward, car parking is impossible and walking can be somewhat long and tiring, considering my house is outside of the old city walls.

She's just fast enough to get me to work on time but slow enough that I can look at things along the way and enjoy the ride. I keep up with my window shopping this way.

The trick is having a bike that is old and ugly enough not to be stolen and resold for next-to-nothing but be useful enough to do its job. Some university students are riding around in squeeky messes with wobbling wheels which can be ridiculous to watch. The other version is to cycle on a "Graziella" that is so small the burly male students look like they will fall off it at any minute.

I want to thank my Atala for almost 5 years of faithful service. Grasie vecia mia (in local dialect for Thank you good ol' girl!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Earthquake outside of Aquila

For a week now, the province of Aquila has been digging itself out of devastating earthquake activity that first rocked everything on Sunday night, listed as a 5.8 on the Richter scale. The body count is up to 287 today.

These people know they live on a fault line and feel seismic activity on a regular basis but they continue to live there. It's part of their ancestory. They feel tied to the land. It's a horrible tragedy but they are just the unlucky generation. These shocks hit very hard occassionally and the inhabitants have to bow to the power of Mother Earth as she moves. Sometimes she swallows up buildings and people along the way.

It's been impressive to watch the emergency system of fire fighters, civil servants, rescue teams and first aid agencies coordinate rapidly and effectively on a national level to help the local victims immediately. Italy is a country that is usually a disorganized mess yet they show they can move better than Americans in real time of need. I am referencing New Orleans' after Hurricane Katrina and the US's sloppy effort.

Kudos to Italy on this point.

Unfortunately experts predict a decade of reconstruction to restore what was lost. There is also a lot of speculation that many recently built structures were constructed without respecting building norms in the pursuit of saving a buck or related to mafia construction companies. Those buildings were the ones that possibly crushed most of the victims.

I had never been to Aquila and now the art works are destroyed, in many cases. I wonder what will be salvaged and how.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A sign of the times?

While racing to Media World for another pack of CDs and DVDs, I had to stop and admire this timeless and typical site: a soccer field being bordered by Padua's old city wall. It puts into perspective my desire to buy technology that is a decade old or so with a sport that boasts just over a century of fans and athletes and the walls that delineate its fields. Those stones have seen it all, including dozens of wars, not to mention hundreds of years.


Usually Fall has the fog roll into town but tonight it is the beginning of Spring and its humid blanket has wrapped up the area. Tonight repeats yesterday. I woke up to a fog which did not burn off until late morning, much like San Francisco.

There's almost a full moon tonight, too, for Easter. It's trying to whiten the night sky which is yellow from this foggy paste of a street lamp.