Petrarch and the places he lived

Venice to Padua

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To Francesco Petrarca,

Vaucluse could not contain your genius forever, and your thirst for the pure Italian air overcame the comfort you found in your hidden valley. I followed the path you chose in your mature years, and visited the glamorous city of Venice, where you had once planned to leave your bones with your beloved books. More than the stench of this seafaring town, your betrayal by your young friends eventually drove you away, as you recount in On His Own Ignorance and that of Many Others. 

You describe mastering the Po with wind and oar, but I chose to rent a power boat to follow in your wake. Although I was unable to find the correct canal to reach Padua, the desolate marshes outside of the city made me think of the desolate tone in which you described being forsaken by those you thought were your friends. As I sailed farther inland, en route to Padua, that city of studies, I found the channel come alive with trees and birds, and found a calmness in the clearly defined banks, so different from the ambiguous marshes.

The sinking city of Venice was a sinkhole of morality for you as well, and your writings seem more cheerful after you had reached Padua. You were never one to tolerate a city for long, however, and soon found a plot of land in the nearby Eugenean Hills, in the town of Arqua.

Written by my hand, on a boat, in the middle of a river probably not the Po.