Here are some drawings from our trip a few days ago to Parma, Vernio, and Prato. We were invited to come to Vernio (Val Bisenzio, provincia di Prato) for the dedication of the town's new museum of historic textile machinery (museo di macchine tessili, or MUMAT) on Saturday morning, and then to continue to Prato to see the Museum of Textile (Museo del Tessuto). We decided to combine this with a trip to Parma to see the Correggio exhibition. We would spend the night with friends in Montepiano, in the mountains above Vernio. We departed Venice this past Friday morning by train to Bologna, with a change in Parma. Total trip should normally take 3 hours.
Train to Bologna on the way to Parma
A delay in the system into Bologna meant that all trains were running late, so that trip was nearly three hours instead of 1 h 40m. So after we made our train connection in Bologna, we finally arrived in Parma about an hour late. We went right to the Palazzo del Pilota, got our tickets for the exhibition for 1:15 pm, grabbed a quick lunch in a bar (risotto with radicchio and provolo), spent two hours in the museum part of the exhibition, and then had our timed ticket at 3:15 pm for the ascent on scaffolding to the cupola of the Duomo to see Correggio's fresco of the assumption of the Virgin very close. Wonderful exhibition, major, major paintings on view, and I loved seeing the frescoes in the cupola, but I will leave that for someone else to write about. Our train was scheduled to leave Parma at 16,33, so we had little time to waste. Just enough to find an alimentari (grocery store) and buy a kg of aged Parmegiano Reggiano to bring to our friends.
When we boarded the train back to Bologna, there came an announcement that due to an accident, all trains between Parma and Bologna were blocked for at least 2 hours. So the entire main line of the Italian system was shut down. Our train would have a 120 min delay. General consternation, lots of making alternate We just remained in our seats. This is where drawing is a great advantage. It is easy to pass the time, and with all the travel I do, I am used to delays and endless waiting. So I ate my clementine and drew it too. Here you can see that geesepalace and I have very different peeling styles. Raggedy starburst vs. elegant spiral.
Eating Clementini while stuck on the train at Parma
Clementini on train to Bologna
After two hours, we did indeed proceed to Bologna. By then, I had drawn enough orange peels and trains that it was time to merge the two themes.
At Bologna, we found sheer chaos. I have never seen so many people crammed together in an underpass between train platforms. Thousands and thousands of people stranded at Bologna waiting for their delayed or cancelled trains. It far exceeded any crowds I've seen in the NYC or Tokyo subways. It was simply and horribly dangerous.
Train to Vernio
We missed our connection to the local train through the Appenines to Vernio, but there was a last train at 20,30, so we eventually boarded that. A hyperactive father too enthusiastically playing wit his 3 year old daughter were seated near us, and it was a relief when they arrived at their destination. We finally arrived at Vernio, after what turned out to be a five-hour trip from Parma. Our friends met us, and we had a great dinner at Renzino's, a trattoria near the train station, before driving up into the mountains and to Montepiano, and to bed.
Museo del Tessuto, Vernio
Next morning, we came back down to Vernio, attended the opening of the museum, built in an old textile factory. (Historians of textile technology, take note!). After the speeches, and during the tour, I made a few quick sketches of old machinery, and learned a lot about reprocessing (regenerating) used wool clothing into new thread. A lovely buffet with drinks and local specialties, including crostini and zuccherini. After that, we departed with a friend from Prato, ate lunch (back at Renzino's) and went to see the Museo del Tessuto. Very impressive museum of the history of textiles, with, I must say, an excellent didactic program as well. Nice museum shop too, and I found a series of lace letters and bought an R to give to give as a birthday present later that evening. Nice evening walk around Prato before taking the train - 35 minute delay - back to Venice. The trip back was ok, but we got back too late to make a dash to the restaurant near the Arsenale for our friend Richard's 80th birthday party.