Postcard from Genoa – July 2001

Posted on February 19, 2010

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The sharp-eyed, and philatelists, will have noted that the above postcard was actually mailed from the Vatican.  The guide books tout the Vatican postal service as much more efficient than the Italian.  If I’m in Italy, and passing through Rome, I usually take advantage of the Vatican postal service.

Note the elegant Vatican stamp, featuring a Renaissance painting of the Sistine Chapel.

The demonstrators holding the vigil, I found out later, were doing so in anticipation of an upcoming G8 economic conference.   I think–considering the theme of their vigil–they were more than a little flabbergasted to meet a distant cousin of those people “discovered” by Columbus.  They tried speaking to me in Spanish first, since they quickly discovered that I had no Italian.  The English speaker they found to talk to me was not fluent, but he was able to give me the gist of what they were doing.

By the time the G8 arrived a week or so later, I had moved on, and was already in Syracusa, Italy.  I’m vague about the details, since my sources at the time were newspaper headlines and television news in Italian.  As far as I remember, somebody was killed in clashes between demonstrators and police.  Not the demonstrators I met, I suspect, since people holding silent vigils don’t seem to me to be the type to clash with police.  But then you never know with the police.

The real big news in Sicily, on the day of  the one tv news broadcast I did catch, was an eruption of Mount Etna.  It turns out I had seen that eruption myself that same day, riding into Syracuse in a bus.  Off to the left I saw a huge plume of smoke rising in the sky, from so far away I could hardly make out the landscape from which the plume was rising.  I had no idea what it was when I saw it, although the idea of a volcanic eruption seemed the most likely, and that might have been a mountain from which the plume was rising.  But, as I said, it was happening a long distance away, and plume and mountain merged with each other visually.

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