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 6 of 30: Domenica 1 Maggio 2011 - Aloha at Last!
Palazzo Tiepoletto seen from the water
We spend a restless night more because of the cleanup crew than the actual party upstairs. We are accustomed to this because when there are parties next door at the Pisani Moretta, the cleanup crews often make more noise than the party itself. There are sounds of boxes being dragged or tossed on the ground, lots of voices speaking Venetian, laughter and sometimes even singing, and, of course, the rumble of boat motors. Occasionally it sounds as though crates of dishes or pots and pans have been tossed down from the piano nobile to the dock, but they wouldn't do that - would they? I guess if you are up working at 3:30 or 4:00am, it is difficult to think about or care that others are sleeping.
Since Ciak's does not open until 10:00 on Sundays there is no point rushing out for coffee. When we do walk up, I ask for an orange juice as well as an espresso because I feel dehydrated. Dino squeezes me a huge glass from a giant stack of oranges, and it is very good although they are regular and not blood oranges. I adore blood oranges.
It is too nice to go inside so we walk over to the Frari. The Chinese restaurant, La Perla d'Oriente, is still there as is the bookbinder's shop. It has beautiful items in their windows, but it never seems to be open - at least not when I am peeking in. Our musician friends from our previous visits are playing in the campo. They are a foursome now, and when they see us they come over to play for us. They know we are always good for a handful of coins. When our song is finished, we cross the bridge in front of the Frari and look at the branch of Muro that has opened there. I'd like to go into the Frari but there is a Sunday morning Mass being held, and it seems churlish to barge in just to look around.
We stop at the Billa and buy some gnocchi and a box of Pomi tomatoes, fresh herbs and a hunk of Pecorino for lunch. Then we amble home, and I call Fontego to up my reservation for tonight from two people to four people so we can try again to meet Ann and Paul. I also call Giordano to apologize for being a no show last night and make a reservation for Monday. Then I tackle the gnocchi. I liven up the plain Pomi with the fresh herbs and a little white wine. I grate some cheese before putting the gnocchi in the water. Fresh pasta cooks so quickly, everything else should be ready first. Not the world's greatest meal, but it will do nicely for a quick lunch.
In the afternoon Martin naps while I read. Then I am drawn to the window by the sight of a very large woolly dog sitting sedately in the traghetto. He seems to be the only passenger, which is very unlikely, and sure enough, when they reach the San Angelo side, a rather diminutive person stands and leaves with his dog. He had been completely hidden from view by his large hirsute companion.
I take some photos of the light on the water. The water which is always some shade of green/gray or gray/green in the morning becomes almost magical in its show of colors reflected from the palazzi later in the day. I have taken endless photos from these windows and no two are ever exactly the same.
The Palazzo Corner Spinelli is looking very good these days. It houses a fabric collection that dates back to the 15th Century. Although it is supposedly open occasionally for exhibitions, I have never been in Venice when it was. Information on it says private visits can be made by appointment only; I wonder if that is for ordinary people or those in the industry or with the right connections. I'd love to see the old velvets of cut silk with loops of gold thread in a raised weave and the baroque damasks and brocades. The archives have been in existence for over a century and include fabrics from Africa, Asia and America, but I learned about it only recently.
The gondola flotillas have begun; these are groups of several gondolas usually with an accordionist and a singer. They seem to end and/or begin at the San Angelo gondola station; I love watching the gondolieri maneuver their boats in close quarters with such ease and dexterity. There are surprisingly few rowers out; I think it is more usual to see them earlier in the day, but it seems as though we used to see more. I realize that vogalonga is very late this year - well into June; it is more usual for it to be held in May, and maybe that's why in the past we have seen ore rowers - teams practicing on the Grand Canal to grow accustomed to it of instead rowing elsewhere.
One small boat passes very slowly; it is rowed by a man and woman who look to be Martin's and my age, but who are obviously in much better shape than we are. They are standing and using an oar each and are moving slowly but steadily along the canal.
There are several boats piloted by women; some even have male passengers and lots of families with one or two children and sometimes a dog in small open boats propelled by outboard motors. Work boats, water taxis and the huge bulky vaporettos weave their way through all the smaller craft; of course the gondolas and traghetto always have the right of way, and anyone who forgets is reminded with a shrill whistle or an angry voice.
There are innumerable police boats too; from the gray Guardia di Finanzia to the zippy Carabinieri and all the different polizia: locale, muncipale, lagunare; each has its own style and markings, and I assume each has its own responsibilities. This afternoon it is so breezy in our apartment with the rear window open that I go into the bedroom to put on a long sleeved shirt and wind up taking a nap instead.
In the evening we take the vaporetto down to Ca' d'Oro and then walk the short distance to al Fontego. Lolo gives us a royal welcome. I ask him about Giulia, his 3 1/2 year old daughter. He shows me both photos and a video clip on his phone. I learn he also has a 10 year old son, and we get to see photos of this handsome lad too. Of course, I show him photos of David and Eva Sofia.
While we wait for Ann and Paul, we sip deliciously chilled Prosecco. We are given amuse bouches of white polenta and bacala mantecato - both yummy. Ann and Paul arrive and are given their starters and complimentary Prosecco. We apologize for not waiting, but once in front of us, the wine and food were too tempting.
After studying the menu, Martin and I both order the tuna tartare which comes garnished with three marinated prawns. They look stunning, and I really like the taste; I think Martin is less enthusiastic than I am, but he does eat them all. It is such a pretty plate that Ann takes a photo for me. She and Paul have the tagliatelle Busara with shrimp and tomatoes. We are four happy campers as we exchange stories and enjoy the house white.
Lolo surprises us with a dish of tiny grilled scallops - heavenly! I really like scallops, but Venetians seem to be able to work magic with them; perhaps it is because they leave the coral intact; perhaps it is because it is Venice.
Martin, Ann and I all love our Pesce San Pietro with prawns and castraure - the tiny baby artichokes available only at this time of year. Paul digs into one of his favorites, the fritto misto. We do manage some conversation in between mouthfuls of the wonderful food, and Ann shows us gorgeous photographs of their home, the beach and incredible sunsets in Hawaii.
Our dessert is a glass of Franz Haas Moscato Rossato which I adore, and, which fact the amazing Lolo has remembered for three years. Lolo tells us he is now serving cichetti every day from 11:00-12:00 noon at the bar and in the front room, while luncheon is served in the back room. I can only imagine what super cicchetti Lolo will produce. Maybe when Sarah and Brian arrive we can check it all out.
We have had a delicious meal made more enjoyable for me by meeting Ann face to face after so many years of on line communicating. I think Martin and Paul enjoyed us and one another too. I'm so glad our schedules meshed for this trip.
We take a Numero Uno back to our apartments. When we pass the Rialto, we can see there is water spilling over the steps; people are sitting at table eating and drinking with the water just inches from their feet, but they either don't worry about wet feet, or they are enjoying taking a risk. Ann and Paul are one stop further down than we are so we can point our building out to them as we glide by. We have no problem with acqua alta on our walk home although the mosquitoes are fierce. No open windows tonight!
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