Peggy Guggenheim; what a pad and what treasures she had

First time visit to the museum and it was extaordinary. If Venice is on your list I would highly recommend – her place was easy to find, even for me.

Surreal and magical on every level – Paul Klee, Picasso, Kandinsky, Dali and all the rest.

And my goodness, what a home, right there on the Grand Canal.

Because it’s Venice, she makes that last gasp hurt

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Last year I drove, this year I took a train; Venice is located just 2 hrs from Riva del Garda. I stay overnite so it goes by quickly but worth every hour I walk. I am at my leisure and have no destination, taking this time seriously because every minute feels especially precious.

And because she’s hallowed out, because it’s low season and covid, it’s now much easier to see the locals and how they live – there’s only 20,000 residents – and how they love to talk of real estate and their little world.

Here’s the last vid I took. As I lean back and put down my phone, a sigh of contentment, knowing the experience will linger long after I’ve left la serenissima.

The Odyssey: In Venice where time felt pure and present

Now that we live on Lake Garda, just 2 hours west of Venice, it makes sense to visit my prior life as a live-aboard on Madi in Lignano Sabbiadoro. It was a critical part of the odyssey. Not only did I repair Madi’s brightwork and prepare her for market, but I repaired myself.

The year was 2010 and winter was coming to an end. So was my short stay in Geneva. I moved to Lignano and felt rejuvinated for two reasons; Spring was arriving so the weather was only going to get better and I had a major project to complete. Madi had sailed us across the Atlantic in 2002, and now it was time to sell her and leave our nautical life in the review mirror, full of memories.

I found myself living in a marina called Punta Faro full of Swiss, German and Italian boats. I could take the train or go by car and within an hour explore the most artificial and magnificent city called Venice. I bought a collapsable bike with a basket for Colette and Godot in front, and enough room in back to store groceries to last a day or two.

I cycled off the dock in late afternoon and we cruised beneath the pine trees and passed along the beaches full of golden sand. Sometimes we cycled into town and enjoyed a glass of aperol spritz. Because it was Italy this cocktail could be concocted in many ways and because I didn’t insist it leave immediately my own misery was fading away.

Self-pity seemed unnecessary living this close to Venice.

I missed my mother which was natural but what disappointed most; she never came back in my dreams. Apparently I wasn’t ready to assimilate her spirit, as my cousin had suggested, and which would eventually happen in the most surreal way. I just assumed I wasn’t ready because I wasn’t healthy. First came the body, then the mind could follow in its footsteps. I gave mysefl six months to address the challenge, six months until the intense Bora winds arrived, inspiring me to leave my liveaboard lifestyle behind.

Lunch came with salads filled with shrimp or eggs, some bread, butter and jam, and plenty of water throughout the day. At night I tucked into the galley and prepared a piece of fish or slice of meat, and because Madi was no longer at sea, she was no longer dry – there were bottles of various and red and local white wine available on board to enjoy at sunset.

My partner arrived from Geneva on weekends and a friend or two flew in from Seattle to make sure I hadn’t fallen off the face of the earth. Oddly enough I was beginning to feel more centered than ever. Initially it was hard to be alone, until it felt okay, and then I learned to enjoy it. Life was simple but it was surprising the amount of choices I had to make. On a boat you truly learn how to review what you use on a daily basis. Living aboard changed my life and opened me to the magic of mother nature. And it probably was the main reason I moved to Piemonte later on; the secret that needs to be told. And I will tell it – I promise.

When visiting Venice for dinner I got to hang out with the locals. There was great Venetian gossip I share in my book, there were tales and memories to make, and every so often I went to visit Diaghilev’s grave on the island of San Michele. It was a meditative time, but I did start listening to podcasts and could sense the polarization unfolding in my former home. I read allot of Gore Vidal’s essays and learned more about north America’s politics and history than I’d ever known before.

There’s a reason Gore Vidal’s four favorite words were, “I told you so.” He predicted our current predicament. He was prescient for 6 decades and forecasted our denouement. He wrote specifically about how our Empire was running out of gas long ago; people were listening, just not enough.

But the majority can sure feel it now…

The View: Chiesa Santa Barbara overlooking Lake Garda

At night from our bed I can see the lights of Chiesa Santa Barbara. In the distance they appear tiny but bright, always there, attached high up on the side of the mountain.

It’s just about the only light any of us can see from down here on the lake; except for the silvery moon.

In winter, like now, the mist, the nebbia can block her lights for a bit but it rolls off, letting me know ‘someone is watching over me’. My mother’s name was Barbara, by the way, which inspires and proves convenient.

By day, it’s a long hike, but this is an extraordinarily sporty part of Italy and people tell me they can do it in one hour. I take at least two – and my goodness it’s worth it – just look at that view!

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