Ho sceso, dandoti il braccio ...

These stairs reminded me of the poem, by Ligurian poet, Eugenio Montale.  I love his poetry, like I love the work of Pablo Neruda, Hone Tuwhare, and Taha Muhammad Ali too.

I even hunted down a book of his poetry, with translations to English.  I've been told it's almost impossible to experience the full depth of meaning in translation but I love what understand of him.

Here's the poem I thought of today, when I looked back up at the stairs I had come down ... Ho sceso, dandoti il braccio… in translation :-)

I descended, with you on my arm…

I descended, with you on my arm, at least a million stairs

and now that you are not here every step is emptiness.

In any case our long journey was too brief.

Mine continues even now, no longer in need

of coincidences, reservations,

ploys, and the scorn of those who believe

that reality is what we perceive.

I descended millions of stairs with you on my arm

not only because four eyes perhaps see more.

With you I descended those stairs because I knew

the only real pupils, although terribly dimmed,

belonged to you.

(from “Satura”, 1971)

Translation by ©Matilda Colarossi

3 beautiful things found + the doctor told me ...

I had a doctor appointment this morning, at 8.48am.  I wondered, later, what drove me to write down such a freakishly incorrect time but on checking the email I realised it was correct.  I think it's all about him having a new appointment every 12 minutes.

I was back for a repeat prescription as well as a blood test.  I can feel my anemia is all but gone however the blood will tell.  I hope it shuts up about me not taking my vitamin D.  I was prescribed 4 different pills and potions, I chose to take 2 initially.  Maybe I regret this ... maybe I don't.

I do understand any consequences are my fault.  Most especially the sadness that comes from being low in vitamin D but I need a change in direction.  Sadness helps focus one on the demands that emerge out of 'changing a life'.  I'll start with it this week, now that the other 2 appear to have worked.  And ummm, it may be that being low vitamin D doesn't really help a soul to make changes... 

I did decide I might adore my doctor.  It became clear when I explained how one of my health challenges had disappeared during my first 3 days in Italy.  He looked up and said, very seriously, 'then you must go to Italy more often'.

'Seriously' but with quite the twinkle in his eye.   Probably knowing there's nothing that sounds so good as being able to say, 'Well ... the doctor told me.  So I must, mustn't I.'

Today, still searching for a particular Istanbul photograph I'd quite like to post, I found another that I remembered loving.  This one was taken inside Dolmabahçe Palace, that fabulous Istanbul palace where Ataturk lived.  The place where I learned that I love a particular shade of red ... the one that's like slightly faded raspberries.

The quote below, from Goethe, seemed like more good advice.

And the song ... Beyond the Blue by Josh Garrels, just really worked for me on this cold grey rainy Belgian day.

Tales to Tell ...

Tiredness continues to be an issue.   I'm doing all that needs done however approximately once every hour, I walk across to my bed and simply fall on it.  I'm exhausted it seems.  The 2 weeks in Italy was intense and my recovery seems to be complicated by 26 celsius nights ... and it's not that I'm complaining about the heat  but it does make the whole sleeping thing quite fraught.

I'm so tired that when I do wake at 5am, it's a simple thing to reason that the sound that woke me was someone walking on a huge dumpster full of wire coat hangers. 

I suspect this may indicate that I'm seriously 'tired'.

There's another huge story I want to tell.  I just need a little more time to sit down with the photographs and stories that unfolded at Palazzo Del Vice Re, located in Lezzeno, on the edge of Lake Como. 

I took the photograph that follows down at the lake edge, below the palazzo, when I slipped out early one morning wanting to capture a slice of the beauty and peace I found there.

Home Again ...

I arrived home late Wednesday night ... exhausted. 

Like so many of the other days, on this particular journey, Wednesday was a huge day.   It was a day where my lost ID card was handed back to me at Milan Airport.  I had been holding my breath a little as I reached check-in.  I had the police report tucked away in my camera bag and my driver's licence, with the photograph to prove I was me, at the ready.

The lovely woman behind the counter saw my name and told me I had 'lost' that ID on the plane coming in and while it was strange that Brussels Airline didn't phone or email me using any of the personal details I have fed into their system so many times, I was grateful.  So grateful to see my ID card again.

I had had this feeling that it might turn up, somehow and as a result I hadn't followed the protocol of blocking my ID.  120euro was saved.  Helen and I did a small happy dance after leaving that counter.

So many beautiful things had been happening along the way however this seemed like a fairly serious slice of 'excellent'. 

Then ... my bankcard wouldn't allow me to withdraw the money I knew was in it, in Italy, but I could buy lunch using it directly.  So that was grand. 

We flew ... still working, making new plans for other New Way of Seeing workshops and arrived, after an hour and 15 minutes, in Brussels.  We made our way to the luggage claim area and began waiting.  Helen's suitcase arrived.  The clock ticked.  Soon it became clear I was going to miss my 'once on the hour, every hour' bus back to Antwerp. 

My suitcase never arrived.  I recognised 'the look' on the faces of others waiting there.  Their luggage hadn't arrived either.  But on asking, I learned they'd just come from Florence.  I was the only one missing my luggage from Milan.

I was tired and a little bit grouchy perhaps.  We walked the length of the luggage claim hall until we found the queue at the Brussels Airlines missing luggage office.  We were walking towards it when I noticed my bag, standing all alone in the middle of nowhere ...

I checked it for bombs and for drugs.  It seemed fine.  I imagine someone had taken my bag by accident and abandoned it there in the hall when they realised.  Thank goodness the police hadn't wondered about it. So we left.  Wondering whether it wasn't time to purchase some kind of lottery ticket.

I strolled over to the bankcard machine, wanting to access my money for a train ticket.  Helen had decided she wasn't leaving until she was sure I wouldn't be walking to Antwerp. 

My bankcard didn't work.  I was tired.  Disbelieving.  I knew I had money there.

Helen reminded me that my money had been accessible directly in Milan so, we wandered on down to the trains level of the airport.  Voila, I was able to use the card to purchase a ticket from the machine.  A big thank you to you, BNP Paribas Fortis, what was that all about?

Finally, an hour and a half after landing, I was on a train heading directly for Antwerp.  Windows down as we screamed our way through that hot summer's night.   Gert met me at the bottom of the stairs in the station. 

Note: why don't European train stations have escalators on every platform?  What wrong-headed thinking leaves travelers almost destroying themselves carrying luggage up and down them?  I pack as lightly as possible knowing this thing but it seems not very 'first world'. Belgium and Italy both fail in this respect and the men have long ago learned to look the other way when there's a women struggling up those stairs with her suitcase.  No one but no one wants to help anyone else with their luggage.  It has made me appreciate Kiwi blokes because I know they'd be there in a flash.  But never mind ... I can do it.  I pack lightly.

And so I am home.  Yesterday looked and felt remarkably like a road smash.  I had this idea that I've spent these past two weeks traveling at 100km p/h and that yesterday I hit the wall.  I did laundry, I cleaned the house, I shopped for supplies, I cooked ... falling on the bed in-between times or working here at my computer.

Never mind.  Whiny moment over, I'll leave you with a photograph I took back in Lezzeno in Italy.  I have so many stories to tell about the exquisite palazzo located on the edge of Lake Como.  That exquisite palazzo where Helen and I spent those last two nights in Italy.

Those Stairs, That Light, Genova

Sometimes I see the light, try to capture it, and a kind of alchemy happens so that I end up with an unexpected result.

I was on the stairs between Righi and the city, heading for the Sanctuary of Madonnetta, up there on the side of one of those steep Genovese hills when I saw the light.  And it seemed beautiful.

My day had begun at 10am.  I had the pleasure of spending two hours working with the lovely Beatrice.  I watched as she used my camera, understanding my instructions so very quickly.  I was impressed.  Her English was good but even better she could understand my New Zealand English.  It might be news to some but NZ English isn't always the simplest English to follow.

I had lunch down at Porto Antico with Barbara and we talked,  as we do, until it was time to meet up with Alessandra, Federico and Davide.  And they took us wandering, with Davide gifting me a portion of this ancient city's history as we went.  The Davide who looks so remarkably like John Lennon.

We walked along Via Garibaldi, catching the Righi Funicular to the top of one of the hills that surround Genova, and then we walked some more. 

I found the photograph when we were on the way down, using the ancient pathway to reach the Sanctuary of Madonnetta.


One of the things I love about Genova is the fact that mass tourism hasn't decimated her soul.

The Genovese go about their lives in a way that feels like forever and familiar .  And there is the sacred and the profane out there as you wander.  The exquisite and the run-down stand side by side.  Take a few steps and you're some place else.

There is ancient grandeur and there are the wilder streets.  Those streets that inspire caution when you consider exploring them. 

Genova is as She is.  There is no pretence.  Grandeur and grittiness co-exist.  You can love her ... or not.  She will not bow or preen for you.

I love that.