AND LOVING EVERY MINUTE OF IT!
And this, by the way, as I’m yelling at my partner who’s about to get on the wrong vapparreto (The No. 1) heading in the opposite direction from where we want to go or not having the faintest clue about where St. Marks Square is from deep inside the maze of narrow alleys that is Venice’s pedestrian transportation system. But despite being in a foreign land, not speaking more then three words of Italian, not knowing how things work (pubic transport systems, for example) I find myself totally at ease, fully comfortable not knowing how to get from point A - our Air B&B apartment at 2537 Fondamenta Misericordia facing the Rio della Misericordia Canal - to Point B, the Venice Biennale site past St. Marks at the Venice Arsanale. But it’s all good.
One thing that has sparked my attention, is how quiet are even the busiest streets in this part of Venice where no cars, trucks, and buses are allowed. Everything is done by boat including deliveries of cases of paint for the shop next door to us or cartons of olive oil for the restaurant two doors down. Walking from our place to catch the nearest Vapparreto, we walk through several alleys between gorgeous, ancient buildings – former grand merchant residences, I suspect, but now four story apartment blocks – and the sudden appearance of a young woman exiting through the ground floor entrance door with her Dachshund in tow, actually seems like an unwelcome intrusion into the solitude. And like in New York City, Venice has some of the best shops – bakeries in particular but flower shops, bars and cafes too – in some nondescript back alley as opposed to fronting on one of the grander avenues adjacent to the larger canals.
Coming up to Venice from Athens, we didn’t realize how spoiled we had become about our restaurant meals. Our Air B&B flat in a solidly residential neighborhood in Athens was less than a mile from the Acropolis, (also in a very quiet but not nearly so architecturally historic and splendid as Venice) was located on a very narrow, two block long street lined with four story apartment buildings. On our first walking adventure after arriving, we wound up at the neighborhood local square surrounded by an antique shop, restaurants and a bakery. We stopped to eat lunch at the first place we came across. Pondering the mainly Greek menu with odd English translations, we asked our proprietress for recommendations. What she recommended – a Fava bean wedding soup and a lamb pasts – turned out to be two of the best meals we’ve ever eaten. From then on this was the only place we ate dinner until we left and every single meal was spectacular. It was as if someone’s Greek Grandmother was in the kitchen cooking up these fantastic dishes. As it turned out, the place was owned by a family from Crete and they specialized in cooking just the way it had been done in their family back in Crete. Truly wonderful and I have to say even better than a couple of the two Michelin starred restaurants we’ve patronized back in D.C.
So we will be off on our third leg of our European art tour, Kassel, Germany, where Documenta was founded.