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 27 of 30: Domenica 22 Maggio 2011 - Ospiti da Bologna
The wedding next door lasts into the wee hours. I had forgotten there was a downside to weddings at the Pisani Moretta: there is a lot of loud music which oddly does not start until very late; there are also lots of loud voices from people standing on dock, either smoking, getting some fresh air or making mobile phone calls. Finally a series of launches comes to collect the guests, who leave with laughter and shouts of farewell, and then the cleanup crew moves in. Their bangs and clatters are accompanied by more shouts and laughter and even occasional bursts of song; I am always amazed at how cheerful they sound working when most people are sleeping-or trying to.
Even with the windows open, it is a warm night, but the mosquito coils allow us to get some cross ventilation so it is merely warm instead of hot. Once we finally manage to fall asleep, we sleep quite comfortably until 9:00am.
At about 10:30 when we walk up to Ciak 1, we comment on how much warmer it is in the mornings than it has been. We've had wonderful weather with only two days of rain - one in Rome and one here, and lots of sunshine. Only the last few days have been moving into what is for me the too hot territory when I yearn for my ceiling fans to move the air about the rooms.
Our across the hall neighbors from Australia are already sitting outside enjoying their coffee al fresco, but we have to get some chocolate for Gianluca and Pasqualina, and we know we will be sitting outside for lunch so we scoot inside for what has become a ritual of three espressi - two for me and one for Martin and our kiefers. Francesco, one of my favorites among the "ragazzi" serves us, our coffee. They seem insanely busy this morning; Ciak 1 is always busy with everyone working nonstop and in perfect synchronicity, but today they seem to be moving at a faster rate than usual, and as soon as one person leaves the bar, the space seems to be filled by two or three people squeezing in the place that one person vacated. Still in the midst of all the pandemonium everyone seems to receive the correct order and the staff is unfailingly cheerful and pleasant. I wish there were some place like Ciak 1 in New Jersey, but it would not be the same - it could not be. The frequent stops for a quick espresso or a leisurely ombra or afternoon spritz are just not part of the U.S, culture, nor is the concept that once you buy even a single espresso let alone a meal, you "own" the table for as long as you wish. It is definitely il dolce far niente that makes Venice so different from home.
We walk down to one of my "Heaven on earth" places, Vizio Virtu, and I pick out ten pieces of beautifully decorated and heavenly tasting chocolate for Pasqualina and Gianluca. I will go back tomorrow and stock up on chocolates that I am bringing to friends and family in NJ. I should probably wait until Tuesday, because it is so tempting to eat it when I have it on hand, but I hate leaving shopping for the last day. It is a sort of crazy "What if the sky falls, and I don't get to buy everyone gifts" kind of feeling.
The woman in the shop shows us two different size boxes and gives us the prices, but she has them backwards. At first I think I must be misunderstanding her, but no, she is clearly quoting the higher price for the smaller box. Finally she realizes what she is doing, and we all laugh about it.
We aren't home too long when Pasqualina and Gianluca call; they are already in Venice; we arrange to meet them at Campo San Polo where we will have lunch at the Birraria. By the time we reach it, Gianluca has secured us a table under an umbrella along the outside of the seating area so we cannot have smoke coming at us from too many directions. Maria Luna is not with them; she was out late last night at a friendís birthday party and was too tired to come. Martin and I both interpret too tired as too grumpy - we have had four children - but say nothing.
Gianluca orders a "custom pizza with brie, onions, prosciutto and several other ingredients; Martin and I share my customized Meraveglie with mozzarella di bufala and Pecorino substituted for cheese made from cow's milk, and I have a side salad. Gianluca orders some olives ascolane which are deep fried balls of olives stoned and filled with meat. Martin, usually not an olive fan, really likes them.
We eat a leisurely lunch until we suddenly realize there are only two or three table still occupied; the poor servers must be eager to get out of the heat, or if they enjoy the sun, go somewhere they can sit in it and not be rushing about weighted down with trays of food.
We insist on paying especially because Gianluca and Pasqualina have had to pay Ä26 to park at Piazzale Roma. We should have suggested they park at Tronchetto, and take a vaporetto or use the new people mover monorail, but when they called on Saturday night we were so flustered by Sarah's and Brian's inability to get a taxi to their airport hotel that we simply did not think of it.
We walk home slowly; it is very, very hot now, and I feel almost dizzy under the heat of the sun. Once we are over the San Polo Bridge, Martin and Gianluca walk ahead, and Pasqualina and I walk more slowly to talk and window shop.
Amazingly she remembers which are my favorite shops from several years ago, and we spend an extra long time studying those windows. Pasqualina is very artistic, and she especially admires the windows of the Boldrin Brother's mask shop, Karisma and Sabbie e Nebbie. She comments not just on the lovely items Maria Teresa has found, but also her sense of color which enable her to arrange them in particularly pleasing and eye catching ways. Currently one window features brilliantly painted and decorated chop sticks arrange in an eye appealing sweep of color. I tell Pasqualina I wish that the exchange rate were better for Americans and that we were young and strong enough to carry heavier bags so I could buy more here.
They have brought a beautiful book on the Museo of the Cathedral of Ferrara which we had visited many years ago with Pasqualina. They also have gifts for David and Eva Sophia. I have brought Maria Luna two books written in both English and Italian: a child's dictionary and a story book; they seem very pleased with my choices; I hope Maria Luna is too.
When Pasqualina and Gianluca leave, Martin and I both sit down to read and almost immediately fall asleep for more than an hour. I'm not sure if it was the late night, the heat of the day, or just the "A" word, but we really are more than ready for a nap.
When we wake up it is early evening. We are not terribly hungry, but we know we will not be able to go until tomorrow morning without eating, and at this point in our stay the larder is bare. I make a late reservation at Ca Foscari, and we walk over crossing il ponte della Dona Onesta. There are many stories about who La Dona Onesta was. One version is that she was a local woman whose husband made weapons with blades. A nobleman became infatuated with her and had her husband make him a dagger so he would have an excuse to visit the house. He came when her husband was away and raped the woman who then took the dagger, which her husband had been making for the nobleman and killed herself with it because she had "lost her honor." Another version has the husband's best friend try to save the "dona onesta." Even though he did not kill the nobleman he assaulted him to drive him away from his friendís wife and for that was banished from the city for six months - on 14 October 1490 because he had violated his social rank by attacking a nobleman.
A completely different version of the origin of the names says it was derived from a local prostitute whose rates were so reasonable that despite her profession she was deemed an honest woman. There are probably even more interpretations of why the bridge is called Il Ponte dell Dona Onesta; perhaps I should make up my own.
At the restaurant, Martin orders the lasagna, which he says is the best he has had in Venice on this trip. I start with the grilled vegetables, a light and healthy start to a meal on a hot night. The plate is beautiful; string beans, spinach, egg plant and zucchini slices form a border for "curls" of different colored peppers.
We both have the veal cutlet Milanese which comes with French fries. We ask for them "sense sale" and that's exactly what we receive. The veal is tender and coated in a light crisp breading that needs only a squeeze of lemon juice from the half lemon on the side of the plate to be perfect.
We pass on dolce but happily accept two glasses of chilled limoncello. It is slightly less hot now that it is dark, but still very warm and humid. By the time we reach our apartment, I feel all sweaty and overheated. It is only 76.5, but at home as soon as it goes over 71 or 72, I turn on the ceiling fans. Here thanks to the mosquito coils, we can at least open the windows and let what cool air there is into the apartment. There is so much I want to do in these last two days, but I just wilt in the heat - maybe if I actually got up really early...
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