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 7 of 30: Lunedi 2 Maggio 2011 - Just Another Day in Venice
The Wellhead in the Casa di Carlo Goldoni
We wake up to another gorgeous day so when we walk up to Ciak's, I take my camera. Unfortunately, once again the water in the Rio del Traghetto, also called the Rio San Tomå which I love to photograph from different angles and in different lights, is murky with no reflections at all this morning. I do take advantage of an absence of foot traffic to take photos of the spectacular wellhead in the Casa di Carlo Goldoni. There is a stunning staircase which is also visible from the street. The view into the internal courtyard is responsible for a lot of the congestion on that narrow stretch of walkway, but I cannot blame anyone for stopping to admire or photograph a sight for which I have often done the same.
It is such a perfect day it is tempting to sit outside, but with no IHT, due to the May Day holiday, we decide to have our croissants and espresso at the bar. It is now over a week since I have seen a newspaper, which always feels strange, since at home my morning ritual consists, of reading the New York Times cover to cover before doing anything else.
Martin has the idea of getting sheer fabric to cover the top of our bed at nights; with that and the bedside draperies closed, we might have enough mosquito protection to be able to sleep with the windows open. The apartment is often comfortable when we go to sleep, but with the windows closed our bedroom is nearly 80 by morning, and we tend to wake up feeling sweaty and yucky.
We walk over to Dorsoduro to see if the fabric shop near San Pantalon is still there. It is there, but as we feared, it is closed for the holiday. We slip into San Pantalon where I light a candle for the father of a friend, who has been in a serious accident.
San Pantalon was built in the 17th century, but as was often the case, funds ran out and the facade was never finished; it is just rough hewn stone. The inside more than compensates for the rustic outside. The church ceiling is a feast for the eyes. Painted by Giovanni Antonio Fumiani who devoted nearly 25 years of his life to this masterpiece, the ceiling art depicts the martyrdom of San Pantalon. Both of us get cricks in our necks long before our eyes are tired of studying the ceiling, which was painted on canvas that was then placed over the ceiling.
We had picked up some rolls on the walk over, and on the way back Martin spots a yeasty bread/cake filled with chocolate that appeals to him. We stop in and buy some of that too. We had planned to get some salami or mortadella to go with the bread and cheese we already have, but we are too impatient to stand in what seem to be very long lines in the small shops and too indolent to walk over to the Billa so we settle for grilled cheese.
Before I can fix lunch, a man comes to fix the gas burners on the cook top. We had no idea he was coming, but the burners have not been working well - actually they never really work well, but they have been worse than they used to be. He speaks no English, but between my Italian, and his hand gestures, it is clear what he has done; we now, in theory have four working burners.
When I finally click onto e-mail, the news about Osama Bin Laden astounds me. Fortunately the iPad allows me to connect to The New York Times (NYT) and the Washington Post and both those papers offer other links so we feel up to date in that area. I'm surprised none of our friends in Venice mentioned this to us. Maybe because of the time difference they had not heard yet.
We also learn our friend, Eva, will be coming for a very short visit from Germany tomorrow evening. We have not seen her for a very long time. She works for Lufthansa and used to come visit us when she flew into Newark, and even a few times, when she flew into JFK, which is true friendship, as it is quite a schlep by public transportation. She has not been assigned flights to Newark, because they have been using the Airbus and she is not certified to fly on it. And, of course, we have not been in Venice. I'd love a longer visit but a short one is better than nothing.
Tonight we will eat at al Paradiso, another of our favorite places run by another of our favorite people. Another lazy afternoon slips by before we know it. Because of the repairman came to fix the burners just as I was ready to cook lunch, we don't finish lunch until after three. By the time we are ready to do anything outside, it is almost time to go to dinner so as is so often the case, we simply watch the canal from our windows and enjoy seeing the beautiful, bizarre and canal sights.
I am particularly taken by the woman with an elaborate hairdo topped by a huge feathered headdress - a la Marie Antoinette - who is riding in a small boat wearing jeans and a denim jacket. Half of her is ready for something a lot more intriguing than the other half. I always love to see the boat dogs - those who stand on the prows or run along the perimeters of the boat perfectly sure footed even when the water is choppy. Sometimes passing dogs bark at one another, but more often they ignore other canines and are totally into being sailors. We also see a boat with three men in tuxedos and two men in work clothes. I could write about half a dozen scenarios about that group as I could about the three young women in sleeveless strappy dresses who are being rowed by two men wearing heavy hooded sweatshirts.
We meet Marie Teresa at the vaporetto stop, but we do not have time to talk because she just makes the #2, which is pulling in behind the #1 that we just missed. We need a #1, but another 2 comes along before the 1 does. We only ride two stops, but the beauty of the abbonamento is that we have paid for the month and can ride as often as we like.
Giordano meets us at the door of al Paradiso, his sweet face wreathed in smiles. It is so good to see him, and even better to see him looking well. The menus are now encased in handsome wooden covers, but the important thing is the food is just as good ever. We both start with the pappardelle del frutta del mare, a long time favorite, and it is every bit as good as we remember. A silken tomato sauce coats the homemade pasta, and the wonderful assortment of seafood that comes with it. We enjoy every last morsel and mop up the sauce with bread,
We drink Giordano's very good house wine with both courses. Martin has lamb in balsamico; it is accompanied by a lovely selection of individually cooked seasonal vegetables. I have the branzino with a crispy (croccante) coating cooked with endive, fennel; and Pernod. It is one of my absolute favorite dishes, and it is better than ever. Last time we ate here, the chef had been tinkering with the recipe and it was very good, but it has now been restored to its original form and I think I prefer it this way.
We are too full for any dessert beyond the traditional esse di Buranelle which come gratis with , or just before, the check. We assure Giordano we will see him very soon and walk back to the San Silvestro vaporetto stop. The current Church is not terribly old; it was rebuilt in the 19th Century and the facade dates from 1909. On the first floor on the right side of the church there is the Chapter Room from the former Scuola of the Wine Merchants. This area was built between 1573 and 1581 by Chiona Lombardo. If the person in charge of the key is present, and the church is open, you can ask to see this pretty room. The nearby Rio di Vin is another reminder of the activities of wine merchants in this area.
As we pass the church of San Silvestro, we hear a lovely chorus of voices raised in song. If there were benches in the campo, we'd sit and listen, but rather than stand, we head for the vaporetto and go home with the music ringing in our ears.
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