Sunday, April 14, 2019


Since it was Palm Sunday, I decided to attend a local church. In the absence of any better offers, I went Catholic. And if you’re going to go Catholic, I say go Full Catholic. And so I attended the morning mass at San Michele San Gaetano, which was sung, in Latin, by nearly a dozen priests.

It was performed according to a liturgy, which was given to each person in the congregation in a thick booklet. I managed to periodically follow, since many English words have recognisable roots in Latin, but half of the priests were mumblers, and I’m pretty sure that the other half were deviating from the script. Judging by the way that everyone else seemed to be flicking back and forth in the liturgy booklets, I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t keep up.

But they were all pretty relaxed about it. The beauty of Catholicism is that the congregation’s role in the service is largely ornamental, so while the priests busily hold aloft candles, kiss bibles, swing censers and occasionally get their robes tangled, the congregation holds muted conversations, checks their phones, and keeps an eye on that one nerdy religious guy who is actually following what’s going on to take their cues for standing, kneeling and saying “Amen”.

I must admit that I didn’t stay for the whole thing. I eventually left after about ninety minutes, and they were only up to the Garden of Gethsemane, so they were probably still going by the time I was sitting down to lunch.

After dabbling daringly with Catholicism, I felt emboldened, so when I sat down to lunch and saw that they had steak tartare on the menu, I ordered it. Raw meat and raw egg, together at last. Take that, nanny state! Of course Benny was horrified.

I was fine following my adventures with Not Cooking Things That Probably Should Be Cooked, although throughout the afternoon I had variations of the following conversation with my stomach:

Stomach: What's this thing you've put in me?
Me: It's steak tartare.
Stomach: It's different.
Me: Yes, it is.
Stomach: I don't trust different. I'm unsure about it.
Me: It's fine. It's a delicacy.
Stomach: I don't know about this. It seems wrong.
Me: Is it actually bad? Is it teeming with bacteria or parasites?
Stomach: No.
Me: Well there you go.
Stomach: But it isn't cooked. Meat is always cooked. This isn't. Why isn't it cooked?
Me: *sigh*.

During all of this, Benny just enjoyed the view of the street.

Following lunch, Benny and I headed out to visit some more museums, and we tracked down a modern art exhibition. The Florentines are not much into modern art. I suppose their logic is, why would we want to look at modern art when there’s a Botticelli over there, somewhere behind the wall of Chinese tourists taking photos of it with their Huaweis?

But I’m an Australian, and we Australians like to look to the future, since our past isn’t very plot-driven, and when it is that’s problematic and triggering for the sort of people who get triggered by things.

After a couple of false leads, we stumbled across a hidden gem; a converted cathedral that houses the life work of famed Italian painter and sculptor Marino Marini. He created bold sculptural and painted works that epitomise the mid-century trend towards raw, geometric, abstracted art; the sort of things that the beatniks embraced and the squares made Dad jokes about in the mainstream media. As a geometric and abstracted figure himself, Benny embraced the exhibition.

Sadly there was only one painting worthy of a new title, but it was a doozy.

How to Horrify a Horse, Marino Marini, 1971


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