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 9 of 30: Mercoledi 4 Maggio 2011 - Ave atque Vale!
Not All Reflections Are Found in the Water = Bridge Over the Rio San Toma
We all get up at about the same time. Thanks to the mosquito coils we were able to have the windows open almost all night. Martin closed them around 4:30am, but only because he felt chilled.
We walk down to Ciak's together and have espresso and kiefers. Then Eva goes off on her own to walk about and do some shopping. Martin and I go back to the apartment and read the paper. We have agreed to meet at Muro at 1:00.
Lucia is supposed to come and clean and change the beds at 1:00, and now we will be out of her way. We arrive at Muro at almost the same time. After a very short discussion we decide to eat inside even though it is a gorgeous day because we want to avoid the clouds of smoke from the smokers who are eating outside. When we started coming to Venice, we often ate outside in very hot or very cold weather to avoid the smokers inside. Now that smoking is banned inside, the smokers have taken over the outside seats, and we find ourselves eating outside unless the outside space is huge so we can find a little no smoking nook to call our own.
The chairs in Muro are very comfortable; they are a good height and nicely padded. It is very rare for both Martin and me to find the same chair comfortable. We are not only built very differently, we seem to want or need support in different parts of our backs. We both like the chairs at Muro, and Eva, who is young, tall, slim and athletic says she finds them comfortable too.
The menu is something of a challenge for me. It is filled with interesting dishes, but I must check out the dairy content of each offering, and many of the most interesting such as the eggplant filled with meat and vegetables and the "prawn lasagna" contain cheese made from cow's milk.
The waiter is beyond patient and helpful. He even goes into the kitchen to check on the origin of the Feta cheese in one dish. He says that while he knows as I do that true Greek feta would be made from a sheep or goat's milk, the packaging on this one just says made from latte and does not specify the type animal that contributed the milk. Not wanting to extend my luncheon de caisson into dinner, I settle for a basic pasta with Bolognese and an insalata mista.
Eva has the prawn lasagna which is a very pretty plate with bright green peas, prawns and layers of mille feuilles, but it does not exactly fit her idea of lasagna. If I could eat it, I would although it is definitely a rethinking of the traditional dish.
Martin loves his eggplant filled with meat, veggies and cheese; his only complaint is that he wishes there were more; it is not a very large portion at all even allowing for this being lunch and not dinner. The salads are mixed greens with the ubiquitous bright orange shredded carrots. I always get Martin's raw carrots; he has problems with their strong flavor overpowering his taste buds, and I love them so it works out well. There are also some tomato slices, which are not bad for out of season tomatoes. They are pretty basic salads but are fresh and crisp with no wilted or mushy leaves. We are given a nice balsamico and better than decent olive oil for the dressing. I finish with tea; I am a little disappointed that the selection is small and offers nothing unusual; for some reason Muro gave off interesting tea vibes. I choose the English Breakfast tea, two cups of which will keep me awake all afternoon, but still let me sleep at night. Eva has an espresso. Then we walk over to Mille Voglie, the gelato place behind the Frari for gelato and sorbetto.
On the way we cross the bridge near the Frari, and encounter a tour group on the other side. There are two men wearing priests' cassocks in the group. They are also wearing straw gondoliers' hats. Eva says she thinks they may not be priests; I think they may be priests who are bald and bought the first ht they saw to protect their heads from the very bright sun.
At Mille Voglie Martin has a morello cherry ice cream cone, Eva has chocolate which she says tastes like eating an entire huge chocolate bar - not that this is a bad thing at all, and after checking and rechecking - the poor ice cream scooper must have thought I was a total loon - I am persuaded the sorbet is truly sorbet and I have a strawberry cone that is rich and yummy and creamy - almost on a par with Princeton's Bent Spoon's chocolate sorbet which has to be the single best sorbet in the world.
We notice there are suddenly lots of tour groups. Last night walking home from Antiche Carampane we passed at least three nighttime walking tours. I don't remember seeing so many - in fact I don't remember seeing any evening tours before. I have seen ads for night time walking tours of Venice, but don't ever recall actually encountering any.
We walk home through the Campo San Toma. Eva stops at the new clothing shop at end of our calle. I think Sarah will be stopping in there too. It has some really lovely clothes in the window, and Eva says the prices are pretty reasonable. Of course she is spending euros, and not euros bought with dollars.
Before we know it, Eva must pack and leave for the vaporetto to make her flight back to Frankfort. We stand at the window and wave as she passes on the vaporetto. It was a short but wonderful visit. We are so happy she was able to come.
I read for most of the afternoon and also answer a few e-mails. When we here a commotion outside, we run to the windows. Some passing gondoliers are flirting with four young women who are sitting on our dock. They have offered the gondoliers breadsticks and their rowing over to accept the offer has created quite a stir. When the gondolieri see me at the window, they wave to me too. I have chocolate that I could offer them, but since they seem to have passengers, the window is less accessible than the dock, and I am probably at least 40 years older than the other women, I leave it at a wave.
Around 8:00, we decide we are both "somewhat" hungry so we walk up to Pearl of the Orient for dinner. We have pork dumplings and also shrimp dumplings. Our spaghetti in piastra is served as a separate course "Italian style," and then we share duck with herbs and grilled prawns. The portions are much smaller than in American Chinese restaurants, so though we have ordered a lot, we are easily able to finish it all. The food is always served quickly and efficiently by the smiling waitresses. This is such a user friendly restaurant, we are glad to find it still in business. Once again we eat inside to avoid the smoke. We've always enjoyed this Chinese restaurant, and its prices are amazingly reasonable.
It is a short walk home, and now that the sun has gone down, the air is pleasantly cool but not chilly and not humid the way it was last night. Back in our apartment I finally connect with Pasqualina. She and Gianluca and Maria Luna will try to visit us the last Sunday we are here. They will miss seeing Sarah and Brian whose flight is that day, but it will be a treat to perk us up after our daughter and her amoroso leave.
Three weeks from now we should be landing or close to landing in Philadelphia; I think we have finally adjusted to Italian time, water, etc. We used to be able to come for a week with no problem; now it takes us a week to recover from coming here. We are lucky to be able to stay long enough to enjoy the adjustment.
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