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Report 1936: Our Month in Italy - Spring 2011

By Boleskine from NJ, Spring 2011

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Page 21 of 30: Lunedi 16 Maggio 2011 - The Wandering Women and The Wobbly Model

photo by Ruth Edenbaum

The "Street" where We live in Venice. The Pisani Moretta is the Gorgeous Pink Palazzo

Happily we awaken to sunny skies; every place needs rain, but when it rains in Venice, it seems wetter than when it rains in most other places. I have the same feeling when it rains at the beach. I guess it is because there is already so much water all around us.

As we leave Ciak's, we run into two young women with huge back packs, who are very lost. They are looking for a B&B in San Polo; but no one seems to know where it is. The building number starts with a 27 which means it should be near us, but we cannot figure out exactly where it is nor can "i ragazzi" at Ciak's. Martin even calls the place on our cell phone, but we still cannot make sense out what we are told.

The man on the phone told the young women and also tells us that his B&B is just before the San Polo Church, but there doesn't seem to be any place just before the San Polo Church unless it is on our side of the San Polo Bridge. I know there is at least one B&B in the Campo San Polo, but he says he is not located in the Campo. He keeps talking about the big white marble bridge, which must be the bridge over the San Polo Canal.

I wonder if the B&B is on the extension of the Calle Saoneri because I know there is a tiny Campiello on the right which can also be entered from the main part of the Calle. The man says the calle is on the right near the camera shop, but walking from San Toma, there is no calle there. The camera shop is on the right, but the only calle anywhere near the camera shop would be on your left as you walk towards San Polo. Perhaps he is not clear about where we are calling from or perhaps he put the phrase "on the right" next to the wrong noun.

The only street name he gives is Rio Ter dei Nomboli. We know where that is, but the two women say they have walked all around there, and the B&B could not be found. I know the restaurant da Ignazio has a back entrance or exit through the garden that comes out on the Rio Ter dei Nomboli, but from there you would not see the camera shop, the bridge or the church. If it is his B&B, wouldn't he know the Calle dei Saoneri even if he has mixed up right and left? I love puzzles such as this, but I would not if I were tired and loaded down with a heavy backpack as these two young women are. Finally we send them back towards the Rio Ter dei Nomboli and suggest they ask in shops along it and the Calle Saoneri.

After they have left, we head for the vaporetto. The B&B man sends Martin a text message with more specific directions, but he still never mentions the Calle Saoneri; he just says a small calle near the camera store. I think it must be the one on the left as you walk up from Nomboli; I hope the girls found it soon because they both sounded very frustrated, although they were very polite to us. The owner of the B&B was also polite but he sounded equally frustrated. I almost feel as though I should call and ask if they have found it.

Our vaporetto is just leaving San Angelo when two Vigili del Fuoco boats race by; the waves created by the back wash cause the vaporetto to pitch and roll quite dramatically but luckily it is a big heavy boat. The smaller work boats and the gondolas are bouncing and rocking like crazy. Even with the gondola's flat bottoms it must take a lot of skill and strength for the gondolieri to hold them steady when the waves are so fierce.

At Rialto Mercato we make a beeline for the Casa di Parmigiana. I buy prosciutto crudo, prosciutto cotto, mortadella, salami di cinghiale, a Pecorino "dolce" for eating not grating and some soft goat cheese. That should hold us for a few days. The shop is small and busy, but the counter men work quickly, know their products and are friendly and helpful. They humor me by talking to me in Italian because I speak Italian to them, but I hear them speaking to other customers in very good English.

We pile on to a homeward bound vaporetto. At Rialto, a young man boards; he is wearing a baby carrier on his back, and it is, in fact, occupied by a sleeping baby. Several people push by him roughly. He calls out in Italian and English to please be careful; he has a baby on his back. "Please use your eyes," are his concluding words. No one apologizes. Martin thinks they just didn't understand what he said but I find it hard to believe no one got the message. Our eyes meet for a moment, and I give what I hope is a reassuring smile and a thumbs up. I get a weak smile and a semi-shrug in response.

When we had pulled into the Rialto pontile, I had stepped back so the conductor could reach the ropes to tie the vaporetto up, as soon as I did, three people pushed in front of me and stayed there. Now I can no longer take photos, and I have a hard time getting them to move at San Toma so I can get off the boat. I can empathize with the desire to be up against the railing for the view and the photo ops, but I don't understand how people can be totally oblivious to passengers who are trying to "scendere."

I always try to tell myself that people are so mesmerized by the beauty of Venice that they simply tune out the more mundane goings on around them, but people regularly step in front of me - and other photographers - when they are obviously trying to take a photo. I'm not talking about someone who is blocking a bridge or a calle, but just someone aiming a camera at a site that would be captured if passersby waited minute or walked around instead of straight through. As the man with the baby said, "Use your eyes."

Martin walks ahead of me, and I linger to take a few photos of local landmarks, but I am not happy with any of them and wind up deleting almost all of them. I cannot pass Il Nido di Cigone, the children's clothing store, without stopping and looking at their windows. Always expensive, the clothing with the current exchange rate taken into consideration is unbelievably costly, but it is absolutely gorgeous.

After reading the paper and doing the puzzle, I start thinking about lunch. Brian comes in and says he and Sarah have already stopped at the Birraria for pizza, and Sarah had gone to the Billa to pick up a few things. I set out the meats and cheese we just bought, and Martin and I make ourselves sandwiches. Sarah comes in; her shopping had been for me. She had stopped to buy shampoo and lotion for me at the Billa, but had bought shampoo and liquid body soap. I had actually done exactly the same thing a few years ago. I guess the words they use to describe body wash look a lot like words we use to describe body lotion.

Poor Sarah and Brian have workers outside their bedroom window doing something with pipes and making a ton of noise. We have less noise in the living room, but we have workman sitting in a boat talking and talking and talking. I don't know what they are meant to be doing, but if they are getting paid by the word, they will be rich men. As we watch and eavesdrop, it becomes clear they are waiting for others who are working inside on something to do with either a film, a commercial or a magazine spread.

I spend the afternoon reading, writing and watching to see what is going on at the Pisani Moretta. This Palazzo, our next door neighbor was built around 1460, and the facade is spectacular. It is the epitome of late Venetian Gothic architecture with a "rigorously symmetrical" composition that encloses multi-light windows with quartre foil tracery. On the second piano nobile level these are accentuated by semi-circular tracery. It was no doubt inspired by the facade details of the Ca' do' Oro, but even more closely reminds one of the Doge's Palace. It was acquired by the Pisani-Moretta family in the early 1600s. The family had amassed its fortune in trade, starting with furs from Siberia. With the cold damp air of winter time in Venice it is no wonder the family made a fortune by bringing in this soft, luxurious warm fur. Even today in winter Venetian women, and sometimes men, can be seen swathed in furs: coats, lined coats, hats, scarves, gloves - anything and everything that can be made, lined or trimmed with fur is available.

The last surviving heir, Chiara, married back into the Pisani family. After being widowed in 1738, she transformed the building over the seven years between 1739 and 1746. She added the third story and terrace and replaced what had been an external Gothic staircase with an internal one by Andre Tirali. She also modernized the interior from the late Gothic style to the more "modern" 17th Century Baroque taste. She acquired frescoes by Tiepolo, elaborate stucco work on the walls and ceilings and dramatic marble and terrazzo floors all of which gave the Piano Nobile an imposing grandeur. The second floor living quarters were similarly modernized, but in the style suitable for the family living quarters. Several years ago, we were able to visit the inside of this 18th century marvel.

There really is not much to see until late afternoon; suddenly the workman stop talking and start moving boxes and containers from the dock to different boats. Eventually a model in a belt brown wool coat appears and stands in a water taxi, which has been bobbing outside our window for quite a while. It turns out she is still posing for the photographer, who is on more solid footing. She is having trouble keeping her balance, and her poses appear to be wobbly and unsteadily She looks more nervous than glamorous, and not at all poised or posed. Maybe that's the intent.

I wonder if we will see the ad in the US, and if so whether she will appear more relaxed. Maybe when she was inside she had on other outfits, but there seemed to be an awful lot of workmen and commotion for a relatively small result.

As we walk down to the vaporetto, we see someone with two young greyhounds or possibly whippets in Campo San Toma; they are such gentle and fragile looking dogs. One is on a leash, and one runs free something I have seen often in Venice when people have two dogs. Actually I have seen that in many places.

We take a #2 to the Rialto; the #2 stops much closer to where we want to be than the #1 does. At 8:30, the #2 stops running beyond the Rialto; it comes up to our apartment and makes a turn and heads back down towards the Rialto. At that time, the #1 changes it course, and stops at the #2's platform so coming home we will still have the shorter walk.

We are going to Fiaschetteria Toscana, a very well known and popular Venetian restaurant. We have not eaten there for several years now. In the past we have had several superb dinners and one - when we were exiled upstairs because we were a largish group - that was a disappointment. It is quite pricey, but has very good food and an excellent wine list.

Tonight we are tucked into a corner in one of the downstairs rooms. Although our dinner turns out to be a fantastic meal, it gets off to a shaky start when three of us order the trenette with lamb ragout only to be told -about ten minutes later they are out of it. Brian chooses a white wine to go with our revised starters: artiginale prosciutto for him, tagliolini with scallops and julienne veggies for me, and for Martin and Sarah pennette with scamorza cheese and tomatoes. For their secondo, Sarah and Brian share a turbot, and Martin and I both have vitello tonnato. This cold veal with a tuna fish sauce is a favorite dish of us both, and one we do not see too often on menus so it is a real treat, especially when it is made perfectly. Brian orders a different white for that course, and it goes wonderfully well with our veal.

We all opt for a dolce tonight because the owner's wife still makes most of them herself. Sarah has a raspberry meringue cake, Martin and Brian both choose a glazed apple tart with vanilla sauce, and I have an almond cake without any sauce because the available sauces all had cream and/or butter in them. They would have been willing to substitute any of the sauces from other desserts if I could have eaten them, but the almond cake is delicious without any sauce at all.

Then we are offered an amazing dessert wine, one which is not even on the wine list yet. It is a Piasa Ruschi from Loazzolo da Fortelo Luja, and we even are given a sconto on the bottle. Very, very nice is a massive understatement. Brian knows so much about wine that we often wind up getting special treats because the waiters realize a special wine will be truly appreciated by him; he always enjoy the fallout from his having a superb palate and a huge store of knowledge.

Sarah and Brian walk home; they enjoy walking after dinner, but I dislike it so Martin and I walk to the vaporetto stop just as a #1 is pulling in. He barely has time to scan our tickets before we board. As usual Sarah and Brian beat us home, and have checked the baseball scores on our iPad; we hear the bad news about David Wright's back - a bummer for him and all Met fans, but even that can't take the glow off a fantastic evening - and oh yes- it was on Sarah! Talk about living right!

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Trip Report Pages

Lunedi-Martedi 25-26 Aprile 2011 - Three Years and One Knee Later

Mercoledi 27 April 2011 - Rained In or maybe Rained Out

Giovedi 28 Aprile 2011 - Home at last

Venerdi 29 Aprile 2011 - Settling in

Sabato 30 Aprile 2011 - Death - Well Not Quite - in Venice

Domenica 1 Maggio 2011 - Aloha at Last!

Lunedi 2 Maggio 2011 - Just Another Day in Venice

Martedi 3 Maggio 2011 - La Nostra Amica da Germania Arriva

Mercoledi 4 Maggio 2011 - Ave atque Vale!

Giovedi 5 Maggio 2011 - There's Modern Art and then there's Modern Art

Venerdi 6 Maggio 2011 - Savoring La Serenissima through People, Dogs and Dinner

Sabato 7 Maggio 2011 - Seeing Shannon

Domenica 8 Maggio 2011 - Il Papa a Venezia

Lunedi 9 Maggio 2011 - Telefonino Blues

Martedi 10 Maggio 2011 - East Side - West Side All Around the Town

Mercoledi 11 Maggio 2011 - La Principessa Arriva!

Giovedi 12 Maggio 2011 - Slow Travel with Pizza and Wine

Venerdi 13 Maggio 2011 - Some Days it is All about the Food

Sabato 14 Maggio 2011 - "Eat, Drink Man Woman" Meets "Big Night"

Domenica 15 Maggio 2011 - Una Fregatura at an Old Favorite

Lunedi 16 Maggio 2011 - The Wandering Women and The Wobbly Model

Martedi 17 Maggio 20l1 - A Walk to La Punta della Punta

Mercoledi 18 Maggio 2011 - Miscellaneous Miseries Cured by a Great Dinner

Giovedi 19 Maggio 2011 - Time for a Spritz!

Venerdi 20 Maggio 2011 - A Small Shopping Spree

Sabato 21 Maggio 2011 - Sirocco Sickness

Domenica 22 Maggio 2011 - Ospiti da Bologna

Lunedi 23 Maggio 2011 - The Days Dwindle Down

Martedi 24 Maggio 2011 - Tomorrow It Will Be Here but I Won't

Mercoledi 25 Maggio 2011 - Ciao Venezia!


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