This week I find myself in the Northern mountains of Italy.
I left Rome a few days ago, sad to say goodbye to my new friends there (Elisabetta, Maria, and Christiana- you were such nice hosts!) and got a lift to Verona with some Rugby fans I met via Blabla car. They had been to see the Italy v. Scotland match in Rome (apparently Scotland won so they were a little down-in-the-mouth, but still very friendly).
I then spent a couple of days in Verona. After Rome, it felt relievably manageable and not too overwhelming (top tip- if you ever fancy a trip to the Vatican Museums in Rome, don’t go on a Saturday morning unless you like playing sardines).
The first morning I was there, I wandered around in the rain and popped into a church with a winged cow on the ceiling…
…eventually ending up in the deserted and genteel Natural History Museum of Verona where I saw some weird and wonderful things, including a squatina squatina:
a three headed goat:
and a weasel-fish-boat….(?)
I think that last one is an example of how the Victorians liked to spend their evenings stitching dead animals together to make mythical beasts. However, I can’t find any information out about this, so your guess is as good as mine!
Of course, they also had bugs and skulls and frogs:
The next day, I saw a few more places, including the Roman arena and some Renaissance gardens.
On Tuesday evening, I played at a bar called Malacarne. There was a small but appreciative audience and I got to play without any amplification in a tiny side room with nice acoustics. It took me a while to warm up as people kept coming and going, which made me wonder if I was doing something awful. However, there was a small knot of people who stayed throughout and I played to them, eventually enjoying myself, especially when everyone joined in with a song.
In the audience was a very funny and warm woman from London called Charlie (hi Charlie!) who I got chatting to afterwards. She told me her life story (which she assured me was boring, but was actually very interesting, involving flunking fashion school and then getting a job in Louis Vuitton in Dubai for three years before falling in love and arriving in Italy with her partner and no plan).
I then came to stay for a few days in a village called San Rocco, about 25 km from Verona, with Enrico, who organised the concert. He has been very kind, showing me the best bars and cafes in Verona (he is a beer and wine agent) and feeding me delicious food. He also took me hiking today into the mountains, which were full of snow.
Thankfully, he didn’t make me walk too fast as I kept falling into snow holes made by someone with much longer legs who had walked that path before us. My new favourite Italian word is ‘spluga’, which is used to describe a natural chute that forms in limestone rock. Apparently, there was a 1000m deep spluga on our route today, but luckily I didn’t fall into that.
So, on Friday it is on to Venice, where I will play two shows, and then to Bergamo, where I will play the final show of the tour on Sunday morning as part of Bergamo Film Meeting. The guys who put it on have done me a really nice write-up here. I might have to translate and nick it.