Aah Venice. Aah travel. Aah culture!!
I feel completely rejuvenated and jubilant after Theo’s and my recent 3-week trip to Italy.
We mostly stayed in Venice but also managed to visit Rome, Cortona, Milan and Verona.
Having a chronic health issue as a life measure is mostly tiring… except when it is used to measure blissful experiences! Then, the bliss manifests because you are so surprised that you could ‘see’, ‘do’, or ‘enjoy.
And the bliss sticks because you remain in disbelief that you saw’, ‘did’ and ‘enjoyed’.
Our Venetian Refuelling was planned as a celebration of 25 years of marriage. In December, Theo and I will have been together for 28 beautiful years – 15 of those weathered a chronic illness.
I feel the last couple of years of the 15 have been significant and positive, though.
Since my spinal cord stim implant, our life and livelihood seachange, and now, with an anti-inflammatory focus, I can feel confident that pain levels will remain right down and my happiness right up.
This is a big announcement for my brain.
Of course, I had my classic moments; a swelling body through the landing in Dubai, feeling like lead weights were strapped to my legs and my insides were growing the whole time we were in Dubai, the impact of fatigue from the sun, rough nights when the stormy weather hit, rising fatigue and pain through the busier days, repercussions as I attempted a few short outings without my trusty seating aid (click on the cushion images a little further down for a video), and more.
But all this while managing to wear sandals (not worn in 15 years), not wearing leggings or firm support around my pelvis and instead enjoying the air and my clothing moving around me, carrying my bag a little more often than usual, being in far less pain, having much less fatigue, being present in the moment and experiencing more moments of happiness than despair.
The issue still directs and impacts life, but we have learned to negotiate the monster, and I am armed to manage it far better.
Our world is opened up again. I’m not entirely free, but I can see I am more able.
Seeing how far I’ve come – from a hardly present state and never out of pain- shows me I can and will continue to progress if I can stick to my current approaches.
I can’t wait for the ‘pain’ years to be outgrown with ‘happy’ years.
With life getting shorter – I’m 53 this year, I’m eager to live as much as possible and make some brilliant memories (and art) before the next health issue kicks in… ageing.
I don’t feel old, but anyone with a health issue will relate to me saying, a lot of living has and is lost on health management.
Our refuelling was nourished by our location – the water, the architecture and through food and art. Italian culture oozes profoundly into both our bodies and minds.
Let me break the experience down for you in the Italian style of ‘uno-due-tre‘:
Uno: Venetian lifestyle
I’ve always said Venice is like a glorious Byzantine stage-set. It’s hard to believe it’s real; experiencing it through summer warmth is so very special.
The element of mystery is ever present because of the narrow walkways. I’m so fabulously (and dangerously) enticed to keep walking forever so I can keep discovering the scenes around the next turn or over the next foot-bridge.
Thank goodness for the lovely Italian custom of the siesta – my daily recovery checkpoint that guided us back to base daily without fail. And always, the bidet is in the ensuite to welcome your boiling hot body parts.
I was thrilled to feel confident enough to be able to enjoy a gondola ride this visit.
Getting around in Venice is so easy for me. We revisit Venice because I manage best in Venice.
To get around, you either walk or hop on the Vaporetto.
You wake to the sound of canal boat deliveries and the Gondolieri starting their day. You begin to hear conversation and dogs barking, and our 7am alarm was the church bells.
You catch the fast trains to get to other Italian towns or cities. In stark contrast to the size of Australia, Italy’s smaller geographical size means you’re in the next beautiful city in just hours.
That meant with careful planning over three weeks, we could visit two other Italian cities. We chose Milan and Verona.
It was a fulfilling trip, having landed in Rome for a night and then training it to stay with dear friends in Cortona for a couple more nights.
Thanks to Dr Valerio Vittone, I’ve learned much about the effect of the food I choose to eat. So it was a bit awkward heading to Venice, knowing pasta, bread, and most charcuterie were mainly off my eating list.
The easing inflammatory response due to the changes I made to my diet has been great. So, I was not about to throw away the hard work and send the bod backward!
However, this was a holiday. And for me, a holiday signifies a measured exception to rules – give me a break, right? It’s ‘only’ been 15 years!
It’s also effortless to order great food in Italy on any diet. I could feel confident eating more, given the extra walking and activity.
Being away from the static computer position and my little insula home setup was bliss. I didn’t have to manage much having Theo by my side, so capacity was up.
I could continue to live this life.
Our daily routine after having breakfast (two hard-boiled eggs for me) was:
- Walk to an inspiring view where I could get comfortable and draw
- Theo carried my light materials and helped me setup
- I would draw while Theo went off looking for the next place to eat/drink
- Theo would come back and take my art gear
- Walk to the following location for a drink/nibble
- Walk back to base for a siesta
- Short stroll to a pre-dinner drink
- Short stroll to dinner
- A short stroll back to base
Just have a look at one of the ways I started my day in the image below…
So Theo accumulated excellent bearings for Venice’s delightful maze, which helped us find the shortest way around the place.
While doing so, he gathered an impressive list of food recommendations, which I have included in a separate post as it’s a bit long, A Venetian Refuelling (part 2) – thanks, Theo!