Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy 2006

Bonne Annee
Buon anno nuovo

Look at the time! I'm once again tired but wired simply because I spent the last few hours until midnight napping on and off, and wouldn't have made it home without the taxi.

Nothing wild, just an evening with Mum at her hotel room, sipping interesting drinks and watching the fireworks.

We saw Chronicles of Narnia today. It is awesome! I could have cried in most of the scenes, don't ask me why.
I love Lucy! She is adorable, her face so well expresses the wonder and awe. Great little actress and I hope to see more of her in future.
And if I were younger I would totally devour the actor who plays Peter. I hope he keeps his classic good looks as he grows up.

My mother leaves on Wednesday so I hope to make her my tangy grapefruit duck breast recipe. I had forgotten she keeps me so busy. I get morning wake-up calls and everything. So perhaps you will hear of my holiday later on.

I am working on my photo captions, but they are online so you will see them soon.

And now I'm hungry...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Verona 2004

In the late summer of 2004, I joined two friends for four nights of opera in the magical city of Verona.
Because the train stopped somewhere between Venice and Verona, we were forced to take a bus that passed through every village, and dropped people off in the middle of cornfields.

I missed the fancy dinner where every lady received a boutonnier and I missed half of the Placido Domingo performance.
At the station, shamefully but at that hour with no hope for food, I grabbed a McD's and took a taxi to the Gabbia d'Oro hotel where I picked up my flowers and my ticket and hoofed it to the Arena.
I arrived just at intermission so they let me in, reproaching me in Italian for being late to such an auspicious performance.

The weather was so hot that we were not interested in taking day trips to Milano or Brescia. On the first day we did a thorough tour of the town and went to the museums and a couple of churches, climbed that hill, ran through the sprinklers...

After that we would just stroll about, watching and being watched. Beautiful people. We would spend hours at one gelateria, chatting, sketching, laughing and eating one gelato after another to stay cool. Tried a granita and was pleased with it. Ate lots of salad.

One afternoon I went clothes and shoe shopping alone for an infusion of Italian chic and I gave the girls a little fashion show back at the hotel.

In the evening we would return to the hotel to freshen up for dinner and go off to the opera.

We saw Aida, La Traviata and Il Trovatore. I saw it as a brief flirt with Verdi, who I will never like. After this I returned home with my heart intact and still in love with my Mozart.
But deep down, I am not all that keen on opera anyway.

Nevertheless, it was a special experience to sit in such a vast arena with thousands of people, thinking about the Romans who built that impressive structure thousands of years ago, and to feel the cool night air caressing my face.

Props for Aida outside the Arena di Verona Posted by Picasa

Serenaded on the train from Verona to Venice by Spanish tuneros from the Universidad de Salamanca Posted by Picasa

Imagine how unnerving it is to be faced with a staring seraphim as you climb in and out of the bath. Posted by Picasa

The little lobby at our hotel suite in a former palazzo (weren't they all?) - Gabbia d'Oro - a real treat. Posted by Picasa

San Giorgio in Briola Posted by Picasa

The River Adige which splits Verona in two. Posted by Picasa

Going to climb this hill. Bottles of water at the ready...The view is always worth it. Posted by Picasa

They responded to "Attention!" At the foot of the hill. Posted by Picasa

After a long climb on a hot day, we were rewarded with a view over the city of Verona Posted by Picasa

A belaboured knight at the Castel Vecchio Posted by Picasa

At the Castel Vecchio, a wonderful museum of Verona's history Posted by Picasa

At the Verona museum of modern art: "Other People's Lives" was a wax goat: hairless, lumpy, beaten and bruised, downtrodden and forlorn. Resigned to his fate. Even a year later I feel heartsick thinking about it. Posted by Picasa

I've never felt sorry for an inanimate object before. I did so want to cry... Posted by Picasa

(phonecam) A lovely curving view of the Arena di Verona Posted by Picasa

Lowering the scary dolly figure into place for the evening's performance of La Traviata. It was a revolving stage tonight. Posted by Picasa

A view from the top of the arena, where we sat sketching and singing in the blazing sun. Posted by Picasa

(phonecam) Set pieces waiting in the piazza for Aida Posted by Picasa

Shiho and me at the special wine restaurant. Watching the waiter serve the wine was like witnessing a beautiful ritual; there was reverence in his hands. Posted by Picasa

Verity and Shiho dodging the giant wineglasses. Every few minutes from the bar: the tinkle of shattering glass. Posted by Picasa

Part of the set for Il Trovatore, in the piazza behind the arena Posted by Picasa

Fibreglass figures for Il Trovatore. Nevertheless when looking at this my mind sings "Donnnn Giovaaaaaaanni!" Posted by Picasa

Building the set for the evening performance of Il Trovatore Posted by Picasa

Il Trovatore - the column opened up to reveal a gothic altarpiece! Posted by Picasa

Fun-loving Verity Posted by Picasa

Shiho savouring a grappa on the last night Posted by Picasa