Untours Cafe

September 30, 2008. I don’t suppose anything new under the sun can be said about Venice, surely one of the most written-about, painted, drawn, and photographed tourist destinations of the world. Further, it has been such for hundreds of years, the world’s oldest tourist town. What is there to say? How is it possible to avoid banalities and clichés?

Perhaps it isn’t; but I think almost everyone tries, because Venice is, simply, extraordinary, and unique. Yes, yes, yes, decaying and crumbling, sinking into the sea, crammed full of tourists––but there is no other place on earth like it. Part of the magic is that what you see today is not very different from what you would have seen five hundred years ago.

Here is part of the problem. The first thing any of us ever learned about Venice, probably back in grammar school (when some semblance of geography was still taught), was that Venice is a city of canals. And so it is no surprise that, after landing at Marco Polo International Airport, on the outskirts of the greater Venice, you have two ways to get into the old city: you can walk a couple hundred yards and take the water taxi directly, or you can take a short bus ride to the nearest vaporetto (water bus) stop. Just what you would expect, right?

Except: to experience it, for the first time, is extraordinary. Here are the Venetian passengers, the weary taxi and bus drivers, all going about their ordinary lives, chatting, reading the newspaper, whatever – on water – while you, the first-time visitor, are stunned to be experiencing something unique in your lifetime, and even unique in the world.

Our flat was in the old ghetto, located in one of the least touristy sentieres, or districts, in Venice. Once again, we had more “excitement” than we would have wished for, upon our arrival in Italy. In 2004, my wallet was stolen within fifteen minutes of landing at DaVinci International Airport, in Rome, as we began our Umbria Untour. Nothing stolen this time, but: only one of two bags of luggage arrived with us. Okay: a nuisance and a worry, but not a cause for actual anxiety—except...

We went to the luggage claims office, where, as I expected, they spoke and understood English reasonably well. Where should they send the luggage, the young woman asked, when it arrived? Problem number one: if we give the address of our flat in Venice––will we be there, when they deliver it? We had chosen not to buy a cell phone for Europe, at $100 or so, and we knew there was no phone in the apartment. Would it be better to give the address of our landlady––which we did not yet have?

I decided to go find Carlo, the husband of our landlady ­– Gabriella – who was supposed to be waiting for us, “in the coffee bar in the lower level, to the right.” (All this had been confirmed by email in Italian, but, after my years of studying the language, I was confident that I had it right. I was to look for a fellow with black hair and a big nose!)

I exited, and after one false try – “Excuse me, are you Carlo, the fellow with the big nose?” (Just joking.) – I found him. Carlo, it turned out, spoke virtually no English. My Italian was execrable; I couldn’t say one sentence correctly, not only mangling grammar but sometimes using totally wrong words. It didn’t matter; Carlo thought I was a linguistic genius. Problem number two, however: having exited the baggage claim area, I could not get back in. The security police were adamant. I had neglected to give Barbara, my wife, any of the information about where I was meeting Carlo. Carlo, bless his heart, saved the day. He found an office on our side of the claims area exit, talked with the baggage claims people, arranged that they would call him when the luggage arrived, and said that he personally would deliver it to our apartment.

This, in my experience, is absolutely typical of the friendliness and warmth of the Italian people. I will contrast it with my experience in Munich, where we had a layover between our Chicago-Munich and Munich-Venice flights. I went to a Lufthansa desk to ask something of the attendant––a tall, statuesque, middle-aged blonde woman. She apparently was just going off duty.

“Excuse me, may I ask you a question?”

I know; one shouldn’t generalize.

Carlo drove us from the airport to a vaporetto stop, where I managed to buy two tickets and figure out which one to take. We had no problem getting to our apartment, in Gheto Vecchio—the medieval Jewish ghetto. Gabriella’s detailed instructions were excellent, but also perfectly capture the essence of Venice, and are thus worth quoting:

“Close to the vaporetto stop, Guglie, you will see a restaurant called
Gum-Gum and a farmacy [sic]. In between there is a little tunnel,
Take it, go to the end of the street and you’ll see a little square,
keep going straight till you’ll see a travel agency called Magic
Stone gust [sic] before the little wooden bridge. Opposite the
agency is a tiny street called “calle de l’orto,” at the bottom, on
the left corner there is a gate with a garden inside (the number
is 1199 and the bell is G. Scarpa at the bottom on the right).
Use the small key to open the gate. Get in to the building and the
first door on the right is the one. Use the big key to get in with
the 3 teeth on the left hand side. You’ll like it!”

A piece of cake, actually. And: she was right.

October 1, 2008. Unfortunately, Barbara has a terrible cold, and I was not entirely over a sinus infection, so we were not the most eager of tourists today. Still, we were not deterred from going exploring. One of the guidebooks says, “Avoid the tourist restaurants, which you can tell by the translated menus.” Good luck, I say. After exploring the ghetto area a bit last evening, and after touring widely on foot today, I have yet to find a restaurant without English appearing alongside the Italian. Our choice last night was in a deserted little plaza – Gheto Nuovo, actually – away from the canal, which I would have thought almost surely would be “non-tourist”; but on reflection, what can that word even mean, in a relatively small city that has been catering to tourists for hundreds of years? In any case, we realized we were one of five tables of foreigners, along with one Italian couple––who, for all I know, were tourists, too. The food was excellent.

We decided to take the #1 vaporetto, which makes every stop, and do a poor man’s tour of the entire Grand Canal. Tea, my Italian teacher, had said that she doesn’t much enjoy riding down the Grand Canal; the decaying palaces remind her too much of an elderly actress who once was beautiful, but whose ancient face now only hints at who she once was. It was not my experience, exactly; or rather, it seemed to me no more true of the magnificent edifices along the Grand Canal than of the entirety of Venice. Having been forewarned, the grand old hotels, villas, and palaces were not as decrepit as I had feared, although I will readily grant that one can’t look too closely at the foundations, on the water...there is the rot. It is like looking at beautiful teeth, many of which have been capped, but most of which also have decaying gums. In fact, I don’t think there’s a single building in Venice that you should examine too closely—they all seem to be disintegrating.

October 2, 2008. As an old college professor of mine used to say: Barbara’s cold is better; she is worse. It was a slightly drizzly morning, but it was fun to see the city come to life; the fruit and vegetable venders setting up, the fresh fish venders displaying their wares of octopus, crab, sardines, filets and whole fish of various species. As always in Italy, we are buying our food fresh every day in the market; it is a joy we relish in Oak Park as well, but can only do in the summer, at farmers market, and only at prices two to three times higher than those we are paying in Venice.

I have been very struck by the number of Venetians who own dogs—a far higher percentage than one would find in Oak Park, much less Chicago. Mostly small dogs, but an occasional retriever or other large dog is seen as well. It is quite striking to note how indifferent these pooches are to strangers. They are accustomed to walking amidst a forest of human legs, every time they go out with their master, and indeed they navigate as if they were among trees in a forest. Many aren’t even on a leash.

I have been very gratified to see so many true Venetians, actually; they fill the market in the morning. From the guidebooks, I understood that more and more Venetians move out of the city every year, because of the exorbitant housing prices. I was afraid that we tourists might be the only night-time residents left, the natives simply coming in by train every morning to fan out and service us. Not yet, at any rate.

The ghetto is a fascinating area. Seven hundred years ago, the tallest building in Venice was built in the ghetto – six stories high – to help accommodate the large number of Jewish people forced to live in a very cramped area. It is still standing today. While Venice was no different than the rest of Europe in segregating its Jews, they were very respected here for their acumen as business people, and played an active and vital role in the mercantile activity of the city. When, during the Inquisition, the Evil Empire commanded Venice to expel its Jews, because they were heretics, the Venetian leaders were in a quandary: what to do? Finally, they respectfully declined the invitation, on grounds that the Jews could not be expelled as heretics, because they were never Christian to begin with! Apparently the Venetians got away with it, at least for several generations.

While the Jewish presence in the ghetto has almost vanished, it is not, in fact, entirely absent. The Gam Gam Restaurant (misspelled by Gabriella) is, for example, Kosher and features Israeli-Eastern European food; there is another Kosher restaurant on a nearby campo, or plaza. There is an excellent Kosher bakery a few doors from the restaurant, where we have begun buying our breakfast croissants. Many Orthodox Jews are to be seen in and around the Gam Gam, the men dressed all in black, wearing hats with broad brims, and sporting bushy beards. There is even an ancient synagogue in the immediate vicinity—striking because of its inconspicuousness. Indeed, I was routinely passing by it as simply one more old building, until I noticed the tall, leaded glass windows characteristic of a house of worship, and only then the inscription over the old wooden door.

Walks such as these that we have begun taking seem always to be the most memorable and compelling part of our visits to foreign cities, but also the most difficult to describe in words. How to capture the moment in which one notices a cat, perched on a balcony balustrade, twenty feet above a canal? Or the visual impact of laundry, mostly items colored deep blues and reds, hanging out of the windows of an ancient building covered in cracked orange stucco?

Crossing a ponte (bridge) over a small canal, I snapped a photo of several older men, sitting around an outdoor table, having a glass of white wine. They were an Italian version of the Romeos––the group of older men with whom I have breakfast every Friday morning in Oak Park (“Romeos” = Really Old Men Eating Out). They were no doubt talking about the same general issues we do: politics, the social community, and alas, with decreasing frequency, beautiful women. Also, alas with increasing frequency, friends and relatives who are ill or who have died. But we are men, these Italians, and my Oak Park group; we don’t dwell on our emotions. “It’s sad—but what can you do?” That is our common refrain; and we move on to other topics.

Tonight, we ate at a little restaurant, supposedly specializing in cichete—the Venetian version of tapas, that I had found in my daytime excursions. Alas, no more cichete, our waiter told us, because a large group of students had reserved the restaurant in the afternoon and consumed their entire stock. He added that the restaurant does not have a refrigerator, and thus makes their cichete, like everything else, from scratch every morning.

Yet again, we had an excellent meal, and I enjoyed chatting with the young waiter in Italian—joshing with him over his mistranslation of a menu item as “violets,” when the English word was “Savoy cabbage.” (Thus: “We also have violets and sausage, with pasta!”) Toward the end of the meal – and after we had enjoyed most of a liter of red wine – four New Yorkers sat down at the adjacent table: an older couple, together with their daughter and her husband. Barbara and I tend to have an instant bond with New Yorkers: we share their humor, their perspective on life, and their politics; consequently we almost immediately began an enjoyable repartee with these folks. Our young waiter, who happened to have spent three months in Manhattan as an intern in fashion accessories, joined in, and we had one of those wonderful brief, connected interchanges with total strangers that are so much a part of the pleasure of travel in foreign places.

October 3, 2008. Today’s play on words: Barbara is better; I’m worse. I seem to have acquired a lesser version of her cold. This led to a late start for our day, which comprised a day trip to Padua (Padova, in Italiano). A funny touristy thing took place at the train station: there were machines claiming to provide “Quick Tickets,” including one-way tickets to Padova. I had intended to buy the less expensive andata-ritorno (round trip) tickets at the window, but the tickets were so cheap, and the lines so long, that I opted for the quick purchase. I put in my 20 Euro bill, pressed the appropriate buttons, and got my first ticket, for the price of only 2.90 Euro. I waited for my change. Nothing. I pressed buttons. Nothing. Finally, I noticed that I’d gotten two items for my money, not just the one ticket; printed on the second item was the information: “Obtain change for this transaction at the ticket counter.” And so, grinding my teeth, I took my place in the back of the line!

Our primary purpose in going to Padova was to see the Scrovegni Chapel, whose interior is covered entirely by frescoes painted by Giotto, often called the first modern painter, at the end of the 13th century. We had gotten tickets on-line, as advised, although today was apparently a slow day, and we could have bought them on arrival. In any case, these frescoes are among the great marvels of western European art. Barbara and I had already seen, during our trip to Umbria, Giotto’s frescoes at St. Francis’ Basilica in Assisi – equally marvelous – and were once again awed by Giotto’s extraordinary capacity to render three-dimensionality, facial expressiveness, and Biblical narrative in pictorial form––all in beautiful colors. Such a capacity for portraying nature and humanity had not been seen for a thousand years, when Giotto, without training, began painting as a youth.

Because of our late start, we didn’t have a lot of time to explore Padova, but we did walk the streets enough to take in the university atmosphere. The University of Padua was founded in 1222, and is one of Europe’s most prestigious universities, with over 60,000 students. We also went to the Basilica of St. Anthony, where this famous saint is buried. Anthony is the patron saint of a very odd assortment of things: travelers, but also donkeys, pregnant women, barren women, amputees, and pig farmers––at least according to Rick Steves, in his Venice travel guide.

We had lunch at a restaurant recommended by Steves, and it proved to be a really excellent choice: Osteria dei Fabbri. We sat next to a couple with a very blonde little boy, and at one point I said to the woman, “Il bambino sembra svedese!” (“The boy looks Swedish!”) She said, in English, “Excuse me?” and when I repeated my observation in English, she replied, “Well, he’s Norwegian—that’s fairly close!” Indeed, they were a Norwegian family, on holiday, and we had a lovely chat over the rest of our lunch––by the end of which, I was resurrecting my half-forgotten Swedish.

October 4, 2008. Neither of us slept well last evening, so yet again we got a late start. It feels very much like autumn, today; partly cloudy, and a temperature closer to 50° F. than 60° F. Our first priority for the day was to find a bookstore to replace the Rough Guide to Italy—a splendid tourist book that we managed to leave somewhere, yesterday.

We decided also to visit the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. We enjoyed it thoroughly, although, of course, there were no surprises. Early twentieth century art, had the artists been Venetian, could by now be put in the near-by Academia, the museum filled with Venetian paintings of historical note, since everything in the Guggenheim is by now truly a matter of history. Still, it was a pleasure to see so much good modern art in one place, including some of the modern masters’ most famous paintings. I once again realized that there is very little of Picasso that I enjoy, and much of it that I actively dislike; that Klee, and also Miro, never fail to brighten my spirits and make me smile; and that Pollock has increasingly grown on me over the years. I felt very smug being one of the few people there, I am sure, who knew that Giacometti’s tall, thin sculptures were strongly influenced by ancient Etruscan sculpture. (A fact I picked up in the museum of the old Etruscan town of Volterra, on a previous trip.)

From there, we walked northwest through the Dorsoduro Sentiere to continue looking for a bookstore. Dorsoduro is the district most often recommended by knowledgeable sources as a good place to stay while visiting Venice. Once away from the Grand Canal, it is quiet, and full of interesting little streets and campos,––very similar to our district, Cannaregio, although it was my impression that it was cleaner, more prosperous, and less interesting.

We found the bookstore that was most likely, according to our remaining guidebook, to have what we were looking for. Closed at 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

We had intended to go tonight to a Vivaldi concert at the church of San Salvatore, and our last stop of the afternoon was to the church, to buy tickets. Alas: I screwed up. I was sure the concert was tonight, but in fact it was last night. Tonight, there is a performance of La Traviata. We thought about it hard, and decided against it. One: expensive. Two: almost surely we can hear better opera in Chicago; this was not, after all, opera at La Feniche, the great Venetian opera house recently reconstructed, after a disastrous fire a few years ago.

5 p.m. Home again. We discovered that the ancient synagogue near us is still used: tonight the door was open, and a young man wearing a yarmulke paced back and forth in front of it. Men, all wearing hats or yarmulkes began to appear, shook hands with the young man, and entered, Two Italian policemen strolled the small square. From within, I heard the sound of a ram’s horn being blown.

October 5, 2008.
Sunday. I went out to buy a couple of brioche for our breakfast, as has become my custom. Today, though, I passed up the lovely Jewish pasticeria, presuming they hadn’t baked on the Sabbath and that their baked goods would be a day old. No problem; there are several other places selling them.

Barbara gets a kick out of doing laundry the Italian way—washing it in the lavatrice (washing machine), and then hanging it outside to dry. I have a photo—if you can imagine a picture of drying laundry being of interest!

This morning we took the boat to San Michele, the island cemetery of Venice. The island was transformed into the city cemetery in 1806 when Napoleon, the great hygienist, decreed that bodies ought not be buried in the city. (Venice had indeed fallen on hard times, to be ruled by the likes of the chubby little emperor, but then, so had the rest of Europe.) With the exception of notables, the remains of Venetians are allowed to rest only a couple of generations in their designated gravesites, before the bones are moved to an ossseria (I may have made this word up), to make room for the dearly departed of more recent times.

Some notable foreigners are buried on this island: within a small section devoted entirely to Russians, one finds the grave of one of the great names of Russian ballet, the critic and impresario, Sergei Diaghilev, as well as that of Igor Stravinsky and his wife. In the English section lay the remains of Ezra Pound. As always with cemeteries, we experienced it as tranquil and gently, sometimes poignantly, sad. There is a whole section given over to the tombs of children. One father inscribed the headstone, of course in Italian: “Your loving papa, in endless pain.”

Back to the bustle of Venice. Barbara and I each enjoy reading mystery novels by an American woman living in Venice, named Donna Leon. Each of her novels is set in Venice, and one involves the Africans – Sengalese or Kenyan, I forget which – who sell knock-off designer purses along the main bridges. Today, we encountered them, for the first time: dark-skinned, almost fierce looking men, each of the half-dozen or so of them selling the same collection of purses. I think they are all here illegally, although I am not sure; in any case, they are apparently tolerated with a minimum of hassle by the authorities. It is interesting, how immigrants develop their own niches of commerce. In Chicago, the Koreans own the dry cleaners, the Pakistanis own the Dunkin’ Donuts, and the Indians own the gas stations.

For a couple of days, we have tried to work into our schedule a meal at a highly recommended restaurant, Osteria Anice Stellato, in Canargegio. The restaurant is described as very popular with Venetians and as usually requiring reservations. The timing has never worked out for us, so today we decided to stop everything and aim for an early lunch. We knew pretty much where the restaurant was, but getting there – as is typical in Venice – was another story; still, we managed to arrive by 12:45 p.m. Totally booked. How about this evening? Also totally booked. How about tomorrow, Monday? Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. We leave on Tuesday, so arrivederici, Osteria Anice Stellato.

By this time, Barbara was fading, while I, God knows how, had gotten a second wind. She went back to our flat, and I trudged on to the Academia—the main public art museum of Venice, devoted, as I said earlier, entirely to Venetian artists. It is a good deal smaller than the Chicago Museum of Art, but oh my goodness, the paintings! Venetian artists must have had a creed: Make No Small Art. I have never seen so many huge paintings all in one place—by Veronese, Tiepolo, Tintoretto, Titian, Bellini, and other world-renowned artists.

Three paintings in particular struck me. One was the immense – I would guess 25 feet high by 40 feet wide – painting by Veronese entitled: Feast in the House of Levi. It is in fact a painting of the Last Supper, but because it features dwarfs, dogs, an African, and even German – yikes, Protestant! – soldiers, the church fathers who had originally commissioned the work got cold feet, when they saw it, and reported Veronese to the Inquisition. Better him than us! Some high-ranking clergy with an appreciation for good art, however, saved the day by instructing Veronese to change the name, claiming it to portray, not the Last Supper, but Jesus’ attendance at a bash thrown by Mr. Levi, mentioned somewhere in the New Testament.

I am embarrassed to say that I can’t remember the name of the creator of the second painting I thoroughly enjoyed. He was a 17th century Venetian who apparently didn’t make the first rank of Venetian painters, at least according to the general art history books I’ve read. This painting, dark with age, was another portrayal of Jesus, also at a dinner––perhaps a more modest interpretation of Mr. Levy’s party (I didn’t get the paintings name, either). What gave me great pleasure was the juxtaposition of a beautifully rendered Jesus – earnest, holy, tender, intensely involved in conversation with another young man – with others at the table who clearly had other things on their minds.

There was a soulful-looking young woman at Jesus’ side – Mary Magdalene? – looking up at him; a man standing somewhat to the rear of both Jesus and the woman is just about to put his hand on her thigh. On the other side of Jesus, toward the end of the table, a youth is about to pour wine from a jug into the glass of a seated fellow; this guy is looking up at the youth with eyes that say, unmistakably, “Oh my God, can I get you into bed?”

The third painting that caught my attention is very famous, and has long been familiar to me: The Tempest, by Giorgione. This is not a large painting at all; it would fit quite nicely in your living room. It is not only beautiful, but mysterious: a nude woman sits on a small hillside, nursing her baby; a young nobleman, elegantly dressed, looks at her from the other side of the painting. In the background between them, the sky is dark, stormy; there is a streak of light (lightning, or a break in the clouds). No one knows what Giorgione had in mind.

I am growing very fond of Venice; I’m going to regret having to leave in two days.

October 6, 2008. We were bona-fide tourists, today, visiting both the San Marco Basilica and the Doges’ Palace, following which we paid a ridiculous price to each sip a spritz at an outdoor café facing the lagoon. We thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. The Rick Steves guidebook is in many ways not a great guide, but it more than proved its worth on this occasion. First, he reveals that, if instead of waiting in the long line to enter the basilica, you go directly to check a backpack or other large bag (they’ll make you do it anyway, when you get to the head of the line), you get to go right to the front of the basilica and walk in! Second, he explains that the ticket for the palace is in fact a double-ticket, good for both the Doges’ Palace and the Currer Museum, at the other end of the long piazza. So: avoid the long line waiting for a ticket at the palace and go directly to the museum, where there is no line at all. Then, return to the palace, look smug as you pass by the half-block long line of people, and enter.

It is hard to imagine that the interior spaces of the Basilica of San Marco and the Doges’ Palace could match their exteriors in splendor and grandiosity, but indeed they do. Had one been a visiting dignitary, or merchant, or pilgrim, seven hundred years ago, one surely would have understood that one was at the very epicenter of the civilized world. I was about to write, “of the western civilized world,” but in fact it would have been quite clear to that ancient visitor that the Venetians had ravished the known center of eastern civilization, Constantinople, of many of its riches. They had even absconded with the body of St. Mark, which had been in the hands of the “infidels,” burying the remains beneath the altar of the basilica. Michelangelo had not yet been born; St. Peters, even though the seat of the papacy, was still a modest church, and the Florentines were yet to become a center of wealth and power. In short, Venice was the capital of the known universe.

We very nearly didn’t tour the Doges’ Palace, having been surfeited with all the splendor of the basilica, but what a mistake it would have been! First, we toured the private apartments of the Doge: room after spacious room with stunningly decorated ceilings, silk damask wall coverings, and gorgeous paintings. Then we entered the public rooms, and were practically knocked off our feet. I didn’t know such spaces existed: immense rooms, one more gilt-laden than the next, all featuring gorgeous and enormous ceiling and wall paintings by Veronese, Tiepolo, and Tintoretto, among others.

Finally, one comes to the Sala del Maggiore Consiglio––the Hall of the Grand Counsel. The room, 175 ft. by 80 ft., could accommodate up to 2,600 people at a time. At one end is the largest oil painting in the world, the Paradiso, by Tintoretto. There are over 2,000 human figures in the painting. And to think that I never even knew such a painting existed! (Maybe you’re not surprised; I, however, thought I knew – or once knew – a fair amount about art history.) All the other walls as well, together with the ceiling, are covered with huge paintings; the room is, in the true sense of the word, simply awesome.

It seems to me that to have had an audience, in the 15th or early 16th century, with the Doge, who was the elected (by the aristocrats) leader of the city, could only have been comparable to an audience with the Emperor of China; no king, or Pope, at that time, could have matched the incredible display of wealth and power. The plunder, warfare, and mercantile talent that acquired all these riches must have been more formidable than anything since the Roman Empire, and the oligarchs who ruled the Serenissimo, The Most Serene Republic, had an incredible talent for displaying their accomplishments to maximum advantage.

We finally had a meal at our neighborhood landmark: lunch at the Gam Gam. We sat outdoors along the canal, and began with falafel and vegetarian appetizers: ten or twelve different small dishes of delights like hummus, babaganoush, pickled carrots, olives, cucumbers, etc. We’d only had this before in a Lebanese restaurant, in Chicago, where the dishes were called mezas. We followed up by splitting a dish of couscous with spicy fish. Delicioso!

October 7, 2008. I have one last comment to make about Venice, before we leave for our Lake Como adventure. Mosquitoes. Many. Both of us are scratching––in October! And, like everywhere else in Italy that we have visited, not a window screen was to be seen. What in the world do they do in the summer?

There is not a city or place in Italy that we have not loved, but we both agree that, of the cities we have visited, Venice has captured our hearts. Neither of us had anticipated we would have this reaction; we both thought it would seem all too familiar, from photos we had seen and stories we had read. Instead, it is like stepping in to a beautiful painting, and discovering more beauty with every turn. I have no idea if we will ever be back. But we will never forget

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Comment by Michelle Vaden on November 30, 2008 at 1:15pm
Grazzie for your lovely, detailed report. I was there shortly after you, the end of October. I went through the cupboards of my apartment and found what they use against the mosquitoes...a little contraption that plugs into the wall. When I used that the one that had been keeping me awake the first two nights went away.
I was already infatuated with the idea of Venice before I arrived. I am now head over heels in love and do plan to return.
Comment by Yvonne on December 11, 2008 at 6:55am
Yes, I loved your report. There's always something new to be gained from the observations and experiences of others. I'll be back in March, and will try the Gam Gam, for sure.
Comment by Lynanne Guynn on December 11, 2008 at 7:55pm
Hi Ron,
I've been out of town, have just come back, and have been catching up on the Cafe postings. Even tho I've just skimmed through your Venice blog, I love it, and will read it again, in depth, in the next few days. If you all don't get the Idyll Untours email, check it out. It has great photos and accountings of the December 1 very, very high Aqua Alta of my very favorite city!


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