remedy: music! And very soon he came across the name of Antonio
Vivaldi. This Maestro di Concerto of the Ospedale della Pietà, famed
composer of countless concerti and much discussed opere was the
very man the prince was looking for.
He knows today’s decision was the right one and pictures
with tender joy the day he will see his children’s faces light up once
more and hear their carefree childish laughter.
The departure from Venice is rushed. Antonio has had no trouble
in obtaining permission to leave the Republic. Deep down he still
longs for someone to beg him to stay, but no such thing happens
and somehow this conﬁrms his feeling that the time has really
come to break the bond with Venice. Antonio does not even glance
back over his shoulder as the ferry casts off from the pier. He has
not taken much with him, just a few bare essentials and his best
violin. His father is to follow in a couple of days, together with
most of the soloists who played in Armidda al Campo d’Egitto. As the
ferry approaches the mainland it seems to rush to meet him with a
bouquet of burgeoning spring. The sweet scent of the land prickles
his nostrils, inviting the priest to take deep breaths of meadow air.
It is as if strength is ﬂowing into him with every inhalation, as if
he could rise, take wing and ﬂy straight to his destination; Mantua,
birthplace of Vergilius, poet of ancient Roman times. It feels like a
rebirth, carte blanche for a new chapter in his life.
Propelled onwards by his fame, Antonio shrugs from his
shoulders the burden of his humble birth and watches it sink like
so much rubbish into the muddy shallows of the lagoon. How could
he have been so naïve as to fester for so long in the land of the Doge?
The light becomes more limpid by the minute and in it he sees the
world lying at his feet. He swears faithfully to himself that he will
return to Venice only when its noblemen, princes and kings regard
him as an equal.
The journey proceeds uneventfully via Padua and Parma,
and he passes through customs without problems. While his fellow
travellers have to dig deep in their purses so as to avoid a time-
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