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 5 of 30: Sabato 30 Aprile 2011 - Death - Well Not Quite - in Venice
Something there is that actually does love a wall
After a terrible night we are up and out no later than after a good one. The problems started last night when we went to shower and found we had no hot water. A cold shower sent me scurrying under the covers to warm up, but it woke Martin up, and instead of sleeping, he was prowling about the apartment, which in turn woke me up. It was after 3:00 before we both were asleep.
In the great hall there are two mirrored columns; one stands on either side of what would be a door to our back room if it had not been sealed off. There is a couch in between the columns with a sign on it in Italian and English asking people not to touch or sit on it. We never do find out why it is there, but at various times it is covered with a sheet and at others it is not. There are also some crumbling stones at the base of the wall in a few areas. We assume the damage was caused by the very severe acqua alta of November 2009, but we don't know why they are left there. Is it to show visitors how terrible an acqua alta can be, or do they clear it away periodically only to have more crumble. In either event it is a reminder of how fragile Venice is and what an ongoing job the upkeep of any property must be.
After coffee and croissants at Ciak's, we walk to the supermercato, which is now a Billa On our way to the Billa, we stop in at Sabbie e Nebbie and visit with Maria Teresa; she tells us she has a lot of new items because she has been going to Paris twice a year to the big "ferie" there, and she has found many pleasing things. I will look at them more carefully when Martin is not there to inhibit me. I think he gets a little nervous when I fall in love with too many possible purchases especially at the start of a trip. We discuss the different shops that have closed in Venice since we started coming regularly, and how many of them have been taken over by not only non-Venetians but non-Italians.
From Sabbie e Nebbie we move on to say Buon Giorno to Dimitri in his beautiful paper goods store "Karisma." He has lost a lot of weight and looks years younger. He always greets us with a smile and a wave even if he has customers and cannot come to the door. His English is quite good, and we speak in a mixture of both languages. Whenever he thinks he can help us with a problem, he is always quick to offer his assistance. The papers and paper covered items in his shop are gorgeous; even when Karisma is closed, I always stop to window shop.
We turn on to the Calle dei Saoneri. Even though we knew they had closed, it is sad to pass both Hair Technart, the beauty salon with its spectacularly outrageous windows, and Gianni's macelleria. Both shops now sell pocketbooks, and other items such as shoes, jewelry and bits and bobs. We make a quick stop at the studio for the Bottega di Mascareri to say hello to Massimo and Rita before we finally turn left on the extension of the Calle dei Saoneri and walk the short distance to the Billa. We notice even more stores have closed along this street.
The supermercato has been completely rearranged. It is only after we are in it that we realize we actually entered through the exit. Strangely all the shopping carts and baskets are at the exit door, formerly the entrance door, so we have to walk back to pick one up. We buy very little - mostly items such as shampoo and toilet paper that we did not want to lug across the Atlantic with us. On Monday or Tuesday, I'll decide how much cooking I want to do, and we will start stocking up on food supplies. Today the only edible item I buy is a piece of watermelon which I am hoping will help my swollen ankles return to normal.
After we make our purchases at Billa, Martin carries them home while I stop at Bar Nomboli for two Robin Hoods, our favorite of their many sandwiches. They make a huge variety of sandwiches, and constantly add new ones to the already lengthy list. Many of them have won awards in culinary competitions. The sandwiches contain roast beef, grilled radicchio and mozzarella; they are heated so the mozzarella is warm and soft. They are every bit as good as we remembered their being. Surprisingly, they do not charge me extra for using mozzarella di bufala on my sandwich even though I know it must be more expensive than the version made with cow's milk, which I can't eat.
After lunch I set up dinner reservations for Monday and Tuesday. As the afternoon progresses, I start to feel less than well. I decide it has to do with a lack of sleep, and since Martin is napping already I decide that is what I need. Violent stomach cramps awaken me and spend most of the next several hours in extreme distress.
We have to cancel our dinner plans with Ann and Paul at the very last minute. I wait because I keep hoping I will just suddenly throw whatever it is off, and feel better. It seems to be a reaction to some inadvertently encountered dairy, and the likeliest candidate for that would be the delicious sgroppino I had had for dinner the previous night. Most sgroppino recipes call for lemon sorbet but some specify gelato di limone. I remember how marvelously smooth and lush tasting that sgroppino was and a change from sorbetto to gelato would have that effect on the drink and also wreck my stomach. I had not even thought to question them about whether they used sorbetto or gelato at Poste Vecie because I had always enjoyed their sgroppino with no ill effects, but now I can only feel stupid because I remember how rich and creamy it had been. Why didn't I think what that would mean?
Ann and Paul are very understanding and we make tentative plans to meet the next night at al Fontego dei Pescatori. I certainly hope whatever is ailing me will be gone by then, and that it is an allergic reaction and not something Martin will catch.
Martin has me call the Birraria and order a pizza for him, but on Saturday nights they take no phone orders so he walks up. When he arrives, he is told by the young woman who works behind the counter that they are too busy for "porta via." Before Martin can protest, the man behind the counter asks if he is the one who just called. When Martin says yes, his wife had just called, the boss says to the wench "Give the man his pizza."
By the time Martin is home and has eaten most of it, I feel well enough and dehydrated enough to try a few small bites of the watermelon, we had purchased this morning. Martin had saved me two slices of pizza, and by 10:30, I am feeling enough better to be tempted, but I am afraid to indulge. Peccato! A lost afternoon and evening.
The family that owns our building and lives on the upper floors is having a party. It seems to be a big formal affair, the first we have seen and heard in all our years of renting from them. Martin said lighted candles lined the walkway through the courtyard and there was a man in a tuxedo ushering people upstairs. Earlier there had been surprisingly loud music, but now all we hear are a few voices, and my favorite sound of water lapping at the building.
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