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notes from Milan

Notes on a cold morning in Milan: We’re off soon to the train station but have a bit of time to sit. It has been far colder than I’d imagined so far on my trip; I’ve been wearing all my layers, especially inside. Lynn and Denis’s unheated apartment in Montpellier I found freezing and so too this apartment in Milan; I rise from a nice warm bed and put on a sweater, pants and winter coat over my nightgown before emerging into the hall. At home, it’s cold outside but warm inside; here, it’s just cold. But beautiful.

Rain predicted.

The Italians are the most emphatic people; they speak fast and loudly with flashing eyes and dramatic hands – much noise. There are lots of PDA’s, young people, and not so young, kissing passionately in the streets. I know these are stereotypes, but they are also true. Here’s an excellent article from the Guardian about the rise of the far-right here in Italy and around the world: people’s desire for a strongman.

I marvelled to Bruce yesterday about this era, the Renaissance in Italy – 1300-1600 about – the phenomenal outpouring of art and then it’s over, what do we know about Italian painting since? Not much. We discussed other eras where nations exploded into artistic flowering – music in Germany from Bach to Schumann – opera in Italy in the 1800’s – literature in Britain during Shakespeare’s time – the Impressionists in France – Russia in the 1800’s in literature, drama, dance. Perhaps one genius, encouraged by a timely shift in society, launches and inspires all the others? Or do these eras of national genius just spontaneously arise?

Someone sent me an email: “You are lucky to have a Bruce to show you around.” I certainly am. Especially because this particular Bruce had such a serious health issue that we thought two years ago he might die, and certainly that he’d never travel again. Yet here he is, about the shepherd me to Bologna. I am very lucky to be here with him again.

Despite all, he is made of sterner stuff than I, capable of endless walking and gazing, whereas after a few hours, I get tired. My left eye is bright red for some reason, and I’m feeling bedraggled, especially in comparison with Italian women in their very high heels – on cobblestones! – and the bouncy teenagers with their expensive sneakers. In fact, everyone is in expensive sneakers, some with glitter, except the women in their stilettos. And me with my bright red eye.

I gather the demonstration yesterday in Toronto against cuts to education was vast – wonderful! Who would have thought that years after demonstrating against the destruction of the education system by Mike Harris while my children were in it, we’d need to march again in the streets because another neanderthal, in some ways even worse, if that’s possible, would be smashing schools again – this time while my grandchildren are in it?



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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