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Report 1936: Our Month in Italy - Spring 2011
By Boleskine from NJ, Spring 2011
Page 22 of 30: Martedi 17 Maggio 20l1 - A Walk to La Punta della Punta
Rio della Salute
I am the first one up; usually Brian rises early and goes out for coffee and the paper and then comes back, but when I am finished washing and dressing, there is no sign that he has left the apartment. I can't help but wonder if this is a good or bad sign or a totally meaningless occurrence.
Martin and I are just about to leave for Ciak's when first Brian and then Sarah appear. We tell them our plans, but they have no interest in joining us on our excursion to La Punta della Dogana, so we go off on our own. Two espressos and a kiefer later, I am ready to tackle the vaporetto and the walk around La Punta. Of course, after having watched nearly empty vaporettos pass by all morning, we catch a relatively crowded one, but I am still able to snap a few photos on the way to La Salute.
For the first time in years we are able to walk all the way to the end of the island. Just before "La punta della punta" there is a white statue of a naked make holding a frog. It does nothing for us or the site; Canova need not worry. Despite being rather unimpressed, I take several photos.
Lots of people of all ages and nationalities are walking about enjoying the bright sunshine, the cooling breezes, the wonderful views of Il Bacino and the Giudecca and that happy feeling of being some place that has been inaccessible for years and years. We admire the figures on the top of the little tower; there are two Atlases holding a ball with Fortune on top. The figure of Fortune rotates slowly not making a full circle but still visibly moving almost all the way around and then pausing an instant before going back in the other direction.
The Dogana or Customs House at which all ships entering Venice had to stop to pay the Customsí duty has a superb view. San Giorgio Maggiore, Le Zitelle and Il Redentore as well as the many colorful buildings of the Giudecca beckon us from across the canal. On the left across Il Bacino we see the Piazzetta, the onion domes of San Marco, the campanile and the whole curve of the Rive delle Schivaone. The magnificent Baroque Church of Santa Maria della Salute looms in back of us facing a row of beautiful palazzi and five star hotels on the other side of the canal.
We walk along the Giudecca side enjoying the view as well as the outside of the building itself with its mixture of white marble and rough aged brick areas where the marble has worn away. The brick is every conceivable shade of pink, red, orange and brown. I take lots of pictures; I love old brick walls. We cross a bridge that offers a pretty view of hotel balconies, each adorned by a flowering white plant and beyond that several smaller bridges over a rio leading back to the Grand Canal.
A bit further, we come to a calle on which we can turn right and start moving back towards the canal and La Salute. We cross another bridge and find ourselves alongside the back part of La Salute; we can see the clock tower and the lion's heads over different doorways. Across from us there is the deconsecrated abbey of San Gregorio with its beautiful shaped windows and wonderful brown brick facade.
A few steps more and we are back at the vaporetto stop on the canal; it is only a short wait for the vaporetto, but I do get a chance to sit which is pleasant after walking in the sun for so long, and knowing I'll be standing all the way back to San Toma. I don't get to take any photographs on the ride home, but I have about 20 that I have taken of the Punta, La Salute and the three lovely Palladian Churches on the Giudecca.
We read the paper and then have lunch - sandwiches made with the various hams, salamis and cheeses bought yesterday at La Casa di Parmigiana. My favorite is the little open faced one I make of soft goat cheese and left over strawberries.
When Lucia comes to clean, we all go down to Ciak's for spritzes, but in point of fact I am the only one who has a spritz - Aperol ma senza oliva. Sarah and Martin have Prosecco, and Brian has white wine. We get a bowl of chips and a plate of little tiny ham sandwiches. We are good for two rounds before we get restless. We see lots of dogs of every shape and size and lots of children of every shape and size. There are a lot of people we don't really know, but who look so familiar we get a nod and smile.
A few years ago, Sarah had bought a belt in Mazzon, the leather shop right next to Ciak 1 in the Campiello San Toma. Since then, she has lost so much weight she needs to have it made smaller. Signore Mazzon is happy to fix it, but he asks her to try it on so he can see where to put the hole. He comments with a twinkle in his eye, "Bella cincture - fatto bene." I show him my purse which he also made and say "Bella Borsa - fatto bene." I get a smile in return.
We take a vaporetto down to San Silvestro, and walk up to Campo San Aponal and from there to Carampane. It is already crowded even though we have arrived early. Francesco, who was in Sicily the last time we were there, greets us with hugs. He recites the offerings of the day, and we make our selections; it is much more fun ordering this way than from a menu. Brian consults with Francesco, and they agree on a Soave which Francesco will choose.
Brian and I start with the spider crab salad, Martin has the scallops with burrata, a type of cheese and bottarga a dried fish row. Sarah has a "soup" of clams and mussels. Brian and I love our spider crab and Martin and Sarah seem very happy with their choices too.
When the entrees come, Sarah thinks she has not been served what she ordered, but she tastes it anyway. By the time she is sure she has been given the wrong secondo, she has decided she likes it enough to eat it all. It is still a surprise to have a mistake like this at Carampane. It would never ever have happened under the watchful eye of Piera, or the one time stalwart of Carampane, Antonia.
Brian skillfully bones his grilled branzino and really loves it. He appreciates the superbly fresh fish in its simple and pure presentation. Fish has to be top quality and super fresh to be able to be enjoyed almost au nautrel. Martin and I both opt for tonno in red sauce. It is absolutely delicious, but the tonno is, for our taste, overcooked. We should have considered that it would be almost impossible to have rare tuna cooked in this fashion.
We are eating inside and the restaurant is packed; there are about 25 diners sitting at tables outside too, and there are people waiting for table so the staff is rushed and busy. Still it is frustrating that our second bottle of wine doesn't arrive until Martin and I are finished with our entrees. Brian opts to finish the wine while the rest of us order dessert. We all order zabaione with homemade biscotti. The zabaione is superb, and the biscotti are delicious although there is none of Piera's fabulous homemade chocolate salami on the plate. It makes a good end to a delicious though slightly hectic and disorganized dinner.
Once again Sarah and Brian walk, but my knees are tired from this morning's long walk so Martin and I go down to San Silvestro. We just miss a vaporetto but while we sit on the platform, we talk to an older couple and also a young American couple with 40 pound back packs and no place to spend the night. I tell them there is a hostel on the Giudecca although I do not know whether they can just arrive at 11:00 at night and find a room or even find someone to let them in.
In San Toma we stumble on a group of seriously lost disoriented Italians, and I get to do one of my favorite things which is to give directions to Italians in Italy. When we arrive at our apartment, Sarah and Brian have already poured glasses of grappa for us, and we sip grappa and solve the problems of the world until going to bed.
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