Friday, June 5, 2009

Soggy Times

The above image of a sullen Oscar pretty much sums up our reaction to the events of the last Sunday in aprile. Trofie Wife had successfully convinced Martello to accompany her to Pavia for a vintage clothing fair (the ads for which were spotted in Genoa the same day as Slow Fish). We reviewed our handy guide books and noted that there were other things to do and see in Pavia aside from vintage clothing, so a good time could be had by all parties.


Although Saturday had been warm, sunny, and generally lovely, Sunday was a soggy mess that grew messier the closer we got to the city. Pavia is in Lombardy, adjacent to Milan. However, not quite as adjacent as to make life easier for us when we slept through our Pavese train stop and disembarked at one of the lesser-known Milanese railway stops (this is where we encountered Oscar). We had to endure a long wait for a return train (to go only one stop) as well as the mysterious locking of all the bathrooms. We finally emerged from the Pavia train station, several hours behind schedule, to buckets of rainfall and none of the signs Trofie Wife assumed would point us to the famed vintage show. Atop our list of non-vintage-clothing things to see was the Certosa di Pavia, a famous monastery on the outskirts of town. We attempted to find the bus headed in that direction, but after a cold and soggy walk and little success, we hopped into a cab, which dropped us off at the monastery door. Built by the Visconti (an illustrious family including the first Duke of Milan) in the 14th century, it is quite a magnificent site:

In order to see the full campus, you must join a tour, given by a monk (they were originally of the Carthusian order, but the tenants switched hands over the centuries, and today's monks are of the Cistercian order) who has been temporarily released from his vow of silence in order to show you around his pad. Of course, he only spoke Italian, but we were able to pick up a few words here and there and just enjoy the art and architecture (Martello was particularly taken with this monk's vocal stylings, thinking he had a future on the big screen, possibly portraying God). The highlight of the tour was getting to walk through an actual (though currently not in use) monk’s quarters. It included several rooms, outside access, a fireplace, and great closet space; Martello and I tried to assess what it would go for on the New York housing market... .

Just as in Disney World, the tour ends by spitting out visitors directly into the gift shop, where a curiously large collection of monks have been released from their vows of silence in order to hawk the merchandise… . In their lovely gardens, they grow herbs that are mixed into teas for different ailments and preventative care (the one I purchased turned out to be so medicinal as to be undrinkable). They also make beer and license candy, imprinted with the façade of the monastery (as Yogurt wisely said in Spaceballs, “Merchandizing! Merchandizing! Merchandizing!"). Once our shopping was complete, we trudged into the rain in hopes of finding a bus back to the center of town, where we would hopefully find the vintage show. It turned out that the bus didn’t quite run on Sundays. 

With the afternoon fading, and no other transit option seemingly in sight, we tried to find help. After several blocks of fretting, we ultimately walked into a sketchy-looking bar (which Trofie Wife believed to be the seat of a major gambling ring; Martello thought that I was overreacting to a few card tables), where the proprietor gave us the number of a cab company. We sipped caffè while waiting for the taxi, which eventually dropped us right in the center of Pavia. We wandered from duomo to duomo, never quite finding either the famous Romanesque one (but stumbling on the tragic site of a tower collapse at the main cathedral, which killed several people about a decade or so ago) or the vintage show, the impetus for this whole soggy adventure. We returned home, defeated.

Of course after we arrived, Trofie Wife returned to the vintage show Web site which noted that a bus was lined up to take people directly (on the half hour) from the train station to the vintage show, which was located on the outskirts of the city. We saw that bus without knowing what it was. Oh well. Looks like they have a fall edition, should we still be around then…(Martello just can’t wait...).

Baci e gelato,

Martello e Trofie Wife 

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