Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Addio Italia - ma non per sempre!

La Galleria di Milano

  After a while I realized that there was no future for me at Mila Schon in Milan. I was too young to be given a more important position and my knowledge of the language was a problem. All I was asked to do was sketch and sketch and sketch. I was there to give ideas and that was it. After a while it was not enough to keep me excited. I came to Europe to learn and here I was not given the opportunity to learn anything- and it was very frustrating. All I was there for was to drain my brain for ideas. Life in Italy was also very lonely and I felt cut off from civilization while I was in one of Italy's most important cities!  I did communicate, but not good enough for me to make more friends , and have a life after work.

Franco Iadarola ,Alexandra Mecarelli, Henry Verona 1971

Signora Castiglione introduced me to a Professor Mecarelli and his wife. She did alterations for Signora Mecarelli. Their daughter Allesandra, was my age and they were very friendly .She introduce me to her friend Franco and we all became friends. When Neil came for a visit from London they took us to the Arena di Verona  where we saw "Nabucco" in the Roman Amphitheatre .The opera was a wonderful experience with hundreds of candles lit while the overture was played. Verona is also the city where Romeo and Juliette lived here .

Juliette's balcony.

Arena di Verona.

We also saw the America Soprano Martina Arroyo in the street.
She was there to sing in "Aida" the following night  .

Martina Arroyo and Deborah Voigt

We also visited Padua where Allesandra's father was a professor. They were very kind and made my life less lonely.

University of Padua

Neil bought a car in London and decided to drive to Milan for a summer vacation.  Signora Castiglione told me that she would cook for us and that Neil could share my room for a small extra fee. This way we could save some money as poor students. I remember buying some veal for her to prepare one evening. She was shocked that I bought some much meat. We ate for a week on what I bought for one dinner. She hammered the veal  until it was paper thin and then rolled it in breadcrumbs to make the famous Cotoletto di Milanese .

Henry, Signora Castiglione, Neil

Cotoletto di Milanese

She also taught me to make a pasta dish with a raw egg on the plate. When one  loaded the warm pasta onto the egg, it cooked it and also made a creamy sauce. That was topped with pieces  of ham fried in butter. Very rich  but delicious .Spaghetti alla Carbonara!

 It was time for me to decide what to do about working in Milan with Mila Schon. I went in and spoke to Loris Abate. I told him that I needed a living wage as well as a position with a future. He assured me that as much as they liked me, they could not offer me anything more at that stage. I was very sad to leave but I also felt that I went as far as they would allow me to go ,and that it was time to move on.

Map of Italy

Neil and I decided that we would travel through Italy by car for two weeks before I would return with him to London. We started by driving to Venice ,via Verona where we stayed on the Lido. Venice looked like set of an opera to me. Around every corner was a little bridge and one expected the gondoliers to start singing an aria any minute and a few times they did!
Henry  in Verona


The Lido in Venice

 Neil and Henry in Venice.

Neil bought a Volkswagen Station Wagon in London. He also bought  a foam mattress for the back of the car to sleep on . What we did not anticipate ,with the engine at the back, was having to put the mattress on top of a hot engine at night and with Italy's summer heat and humidity it was not very pleasant. We did not get much sleep. Only in the early hours of the morning the engine would cool off and we could get some sleep ,but soon it was time to get up and start the day. The camping sites were rather primitive, so it did not take much for us to look for a cheap hotel every now and then, just to get a good night's rest.
Henry in Rimini

Shopping in Florence.
From Venice we drove  via Rimini to Florence, where we stood on long lines to get into the museums and art galleries. History came alive and it was a wonderful experience to see paintings that we studied at Art School.

In Sienna we went to the Palio ,that famous horse race in the town square ,and stood in the center of the square in  the blazing sun for hours until the horses eventually thundered past us .It was such a beautiful old walled town and we were transported back into the middle ages.


Our view of the Palio in Sienna.
Neil in the ancient streets of Sienna.
We realized we had enough time to drive to Rome as well. To drive in Rome in those narrow streets was nerve-wrecking, and poor Neil had to keep his wits about to get us safely from A to B.

Rome- Coliseum

Castello di St Angelo in Rome where "TOSCA" ended her life.

Neil in  Roman Forum.

Tivoli Gardens.
On the Lido Beach in Venice.

Levanto Beach 

San Remo
After Rome we drove via Genoa , La Spezia and Levanto  to San Remo. We spent a few days on the beach at Levanto. At San Remo we crossed the border into France.




First we visited  Monaco, the principality located  in the South of France that was the tax haven and playground of the rich and famous.


Prince Rainier of Monaco married Grace Kelly the Hollywood movie star 15 years before and they were the golden couple, playing host to Aristotle Onassis and Maria Callas amongst other famous jet setters. Monaco was the place to be during the summer months. The casino was packed as well as the beaches.


Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco

Maria Callas, Elizabeth Taylor and Aristotle Onassis
We drove along the coast visiting Nice and Cannes, as well as St Topez, famous for its topless beaches .It was also the hometown of Brigitte Bardot.

Harbor of St Tropez.

Brigitte Bardot on the beach in St Tropez.

Bridgette Bardot.
The yachts in the harbor of St Tropez were parked like limos along the boardwalk. Their owners sitting on their back decks having brunch and watching the passing parade of the "beautiful people" .
I have never seen so many good looking people in one spot!

After tiring of all the good lookers and rich people on the beaches, we turned inland and drove via Grenoble, Lyon and Orleans to Paris.

Grenoble .
Grenoble, a beautiful city, was close to the border of Italy and located on the foot of the Alps. Here we  slept in a pensione that had round  boulders as pillows. We also saw people carrying the long French  loaves of bread under their arms.


Driving in Paris was another nightmare and one just has to keep going ,never slow down .The French drove with their signal lights. They felt as long as they signaled  other drivers it was OK to do whatever they liked behind the wheel of a car. They drove mostly Renaults, the French version of the  Italian Fiat.
Henry with the Arc de Triomphe in the background.


Renault 1971
After a few days in Paris we drove to Calais to catch  the ferry over the English Channel ,back to London. I was getting anxious about my future and wanted to get to London ASAP to see where destiny was going to lead me.


Ferry Back to London..


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