Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 1936: Our Month in Italy - Spring 2011
By Boleskine from NJ, Spring 2011
Page 17 of 30: Giovedi 12 Maggio 2011 - Slow Travel with Pizza and Wine
The Canal Water at Sunset
Today our oldest son, James, is 48 years old. How is this possible? As one friend recently wrote to me, before long our children will be older than we are. Happy Birthday, James - my first and best ever Mother's Day Present.
It was a very warm night and we wake to a hazy morning, but happily it quickly turns into a sunny day. Sarah and Brian sleep in, and Martin and I go for our coffee and kiefers, and the newspaper. We drink our espresso standing at the bar and walk directly home to be there when our guests wake up.
When we turn down our calle, the garage collection cart is blocking it so we decide to stop in to talk to Maria Teresa, but she is not in her shop this morning. There is a souvenir store on the corner of Rio Ter dei Nomboli; it has a display of interesting and expensive looking post cards that are visible from the door.
I used to write cards to our children every single day and send multiple cards to friends, but between cell phones and e-mail it is easy to stay in touch, and the cost of the cards and postage has gotten ridiculous. Were I to send all the people to whom I used to send cards, one or two postcards, I'd have spent the cost of a meal in Venice. This shop has such a high entrance step that with no handholds I don't feel comfortable trying to enter so I walk down to look at the cards in another store. I look at the cards on display there and they are really boring - the most obvious sites taken from the least imaginative angle with not very good color quality. I am not impressed nor inspired; they are not worth the cost of the postage it would take to send them. Dimitri is not in his shop either, but by now we are able to walk down our calle, so we go home.
Sarah and Brian are awake. We read the paper while they get showered and dressed and go out for coffee. Then they decide to go down to Piazzale Roma and renew their iMob cards, which they successfully manage on their own with only one or two text messages asking for help or really clarification.
I make gnocchi con salsa di pomodoro for lunch; we share our last pear, and then Martin cleans up. Sarah and I read, and then she decides to nap along with Brian, who has already gone back to their room. Martin conks out too leaving me to finish a not very good hard cover book a friend had given me. It is sweet and silly, and I will have no qualms about leaving it behind.
The sun is dazzling now and the flotillas of gondolas are picking up and dropping off passengers at the traghetto stop on San Angelo side of the canal. I think they are all prearranged tours, because almost everyone has an accordion player and a singer. Everyone seems to enjoy them, and I like getting little snippets of Italian songs.
Later Shannon and some of the people on her and Kim's Grape Hops tour will be stopping by for a glass of wine before we all walk up to the Birraria for dinner. I am torn between getting outside for a while and doing something - anything just to be out on such a lovely day, and giving in to my natural laziness and taking a nap myself. The problem is if I do nap, I will wake up feeling like zombie for hours, and then probably sleep poorly tonight. How lucky I am to have this be the big decision of my day. I finally walk outside and stand in the garden and on the dock for a little while, but not even Ulise or Calypso is around to play with.
With the big green door leading to the courtyard and garden open, we get an interesting reflection on the glass doors of the room holding the inside well head and a lot of the electrical equipment and pipes for the building. It looks as though the garden is on the far side of that room instead of behind me; I fool around trying to get a picture of that optical illusion and then go back inside.
Not long after 6:30 our Slowtravel/GrapeHops friends arrive. We already know Shannon and Kim, although this is the first time we've met Kim in Venice; usually we see her in New Jersey were we both live. Nancy is also there, and Kevin and his wife, who have come from Australia. They will be moving across the hall from us in a few days after the tour is over.
After we've all settled down to exchanging Venice stories, Nan arrives with a bottle of Spilari Bianco Rugoli 2009, which is considered an experimental wine because it is fermented with wild yeast, which is whatever yeast is in the air. This makes the finished product less easily controlled. We all sample that because it is something new and different - at least to a few of us.
We are paid an impromptu visit from little Ulise, who has grown very attached to a woman from Japan who is currently renting the studio apartment. He often comes to visit us, and he is a sweet little guy. Just before everyone arrives we had tried to call James to say Happy Birthday, but he had left the Princeton Record Exchange to go buy bread. We will try later, but he is a hard man to catch.
Eventually make our way to Campo San Polo and Antica Birraria. We choose to sit inside to avoid the smokers, and are shown to a long table at the back. It doesn't take very long for everyone to choose his or her pizza. Brian orders a red and a white wine: a Dei Rosso di Montepulciano and a Ribolla Gialla. Shannon looks over the wine list too and finds a wine from the Vallee d'Astea of which she is very fond. It is so close to France the wine is labeled a Pinot Noir instead of a Pinot Nero. Shannon raves about it so much that we order it too especially when we learn how hard to find it is. The Dei Rosso that Brian has ordered is an ideal pairing with the salty meats that are on so many of our pizzas.
We spend a very enjoyable couple of hours over pizza and wine, discussing our previous Venice and travel, and our plans for an upcoming get together of Slow Travel people. We all kick in €20 which includes an unnecessary but hopefully appreciated cash tip for our waitress. Everyone seems happy with their meal and everyone thinks the price is a good one.
We all saunter back across the large Campo and then Martin, Sarah, Brian and I turn right to cross the bridge over the Rio San Polo and head home, We left the mosquito coils burning the whole time we were away so the apartment smells little smoky, but with luck we will be able to sleep with the windows open and not provide a feast for Venice's mosquitoes.
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