Here is one in a very occasional series where I type up one of my journal entries from when I was in Venice. This is from last summer, a Saturday in July when I apparently didn’t know what the date was:
“I’m sitting in the window of my apartment as I write, recuperating after a long day of walking and exploring. Listening to Brazilian music (Tum Tum Tum), eating brie and crackers, and sipping a soave.
I started the day with too much internet and book time in the morning, and then finally got out the door and took the vap to Giardini. Started with S Francesco di Paola and draped a wrap on my shoulders so I could enter. Honestly, I forgot which of the women from my research I was supposed to be looking for, but I knew it was on my list.
Next was the church and ex-convent of Sant’Anna, where Arcangela Tarabotti lived. The church is all sealed up, though through a chink in the door I could see some interior. Not much to see but some rubble and columns. There’s a small corte alongside the church, then a slightly larger area adjacent, with some grass and a tree or two. An elderly woman stood on her balcony in front of her laundry, so I asked her if this was the “ex-convento.” Even though I repeated myself three times (and though my Italian is not great, I’m sure I was intelligible), I don’t think she heard me. Her cat took a look at me and kept going, and I think the lady might have offered me to enter her fence. Sweet, but I had to reason to visit, and the cat who had spurned me had already moved on.
The area of the former convent is now built up into apartments. I think they might have built up the land itself; when I looked at the area in comparison to Barbari’s 1500 map, it now seems bigger. But it looks like the original cloister courtyard is still there. Each archway facing it is bricked up, as are the windows at the back of the church. But they may have been that way during Arcangela’s time.
The thing that struck me was the isolation. In her time, that was a pretty remote corner of Venice, the convent wall and garden facing the canal and S Pietro, which doesn’t have much going on. Then to wall up the windows as well must’ve been like putting a bird in a cage and then covering the cage. Horrid, like she said, unnatural.
I poked around S Pietro a bit until I got hungry. Polenta with gorgonzola on it is pretty yummy. I went over my notes while I rested and digested, then realized there was another site nearby related to my research–a hospice founded by women for women.
Then the long walk back to S Marco. I saw two women coming from the Biennale, wearing their museum tickets as nose guards held in place by their sunglasses.
My street has no name.
But it has a skull. On my first day I looked down to see what I thought was crumpled gray paper but discovered was a tiny, fragile bird’s skull. I placed it in the corner at the base of the door, a talisman. But a couple days later I found it crushed.”