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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Vigilante's Venetian Views

II left Firenze at 8:30 am in the midst of pouring rain.  'Thank god I'm going to Venice.'

Guess what! Here' my first view of Venice.  AND of course, the highly fit gondolier in the black and white stripe shirt, tight black pants, and straw hat forgot to show up and I had to take the water metro with the common folk.  

While trying to figure out which stop would leave the least amount of walking in the rain, I missed it totally and ended up having to go to Lido. Not the island I wanted necessarily.  No less than five people looked at me kindly and said, 'finito' when I didn't want to leave my seat.  So I disembarked in Lido instead of Venice, walked around the gangplank, and re-embarked.

  This time I sit where I can read the names of the 'prossimo fermata' or 'nesta stopa.'  During the 45 minute sojourn, the views I see of Venice make me think that Africa was pretty sweet.
I manage to pay attention to the stops, though, and get off at the station I want, flip open my umbrella, walk across a bridge, and stand face to face with Savoia and Jolanda, my hotel.  Be still my heart.  Tears fill my eyes.  I am overcome with joy. My hotel is right here.  You see, my teeth are chattering and I'm shivering from the cold and the wet.

My room is teeny-tiny (about the size of yours,Dee, in Firenze) but it has heat, real heat, not a space heater that blinds you as it swivels past your eyes and it has a shower with hot water that doesn't scald you.  I've decided in my apartment that the word for hot should be scaldo, not caldo.  Was it really just a few weeks ago that I was complaining about being too hot and having only cold water in the shower?  Never satisfied. And this room has a carpet, damask wallpaper and gold drapes with balled fringe.  AND it's totally 
Q-U-I-E-T.  I'm in heaven.  

I decide Venice be damned, I'm just staying in my room for the rest of the day, maybe tomorrow and the next day too.  I switch on the TV, something I haven't done in three months, and learn immediately 'breaking news' that Prince William is engaged to Kate Middlesomethng.  Then I watch the Simpsons and Friends in Italian. Pretty funny actually.  

Finally, my stomach gets the best of  me and I begrudgingly leave my heated room, armed with my new leather jacket, my scarf (which no respectful Italian would leave home without) and my trusty umbrella to brave the weather just as far as the nearest caffe.  Allora!  To my surprise, I encounter this when I step out the door.
And I haven't walked ten feet yet.

 I LOVE Venice.  I find a great caffe to have coffee and pastry right off with friendly people who make me feel welcome.  It's a great people watching spot too.   Later, I find the perfect restaurant where I have Cipolla (the best onion soup ever) and Grigliata di Scampi.  I'm almost embarrassed to say that I didn't even know that shrimp even have claws until being in Italy. (Doreen ordered shrimp last weekend.)  So I wasn't aghast when my scampi arrived with claws.

I can breathe here.  Maybe it's the combo of quaint Italian and ocean and open sky.  

I walk and walk in the rain for four hours with intermittent stops for food and drink.   I just feel happy here.  Maybe it's the half liter of red wine (They didn't have 'un quarto.'  What's a girl to do?) so I'll wait to put a down payment on an apartment. Just kidding.   I felt happy even when I was still hungry.  It's very interesting to me, though, that while I'm enjoying Firenze, I have felt very alone there and the people are not only not friendly, they're pretty rude.  I have not encountered this level of rudeness anywhere I've traveled before even in Paris. And I don't feel it here in Venice either.  People actually smile here when you look at them.  

I can't wait to see if it all still feels the same tomorrow.  According to the weather report, it will probably rain for the next two days, the entire time I'm here.  That's okay.  I'll just have to return for a longer stay in the spring.

Buona Notte!

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