We left Trieste early Sunday morning but by the time we endured the motorway traffic and the tolls, (we have spent more on tolls in the last week than on our entire weeks groceries), it was early afternoon and the clouds had returned.
I had chosen a kind of “agritourism” camperstop in a small village called Pianiga, about 30 kms outside of Venice, but with easy access to the train.
It’s run by these 3 old Italian guys, not a word of English between them, and each night they would all come to our doorstep for their 6 Euro. It’s a great facilty, behind secure fencing with water, electricity and a dump station. It’s in a small village but there was a laundromat metres from us, a wonderful fruit shop where EVERYTHING was 1€ per kg, a cafe with beautiful patisseries, a butcher and best of all the market came to town on Tuesday so we had a wonderful conversation with the cheese guy whilst choosing our cheese. It kind of went like this:
Us: “Can we buy some soft herby cheese?”.
Cheese Guy: Confused look and then some kind of Italian before producing samples of EVERY cheese in his shop.
The wonderful part was sampling all that cheese but in fairness we did buy lots of cheese from him.
Anyway because we arrived latish and because it started to rain we delayed going to Venice until the next day which was a great choice because we woke to brilliant sunshine. We also had a wonderful night’s sleep thanks to the quietness of the village, no loud music till 4am here.
After a 20 minute train ride we found ourselves in the middle of Venice – stuff of dreams.
At first the crowds and the boats and just everyone and everything going in all directions is a little overwhelming but gradually, gradually the crowds thin out as the streets become narrower and the magic of Venice begins.
It’s older than I thought, crumblier but I think it’s because when I think of Italy I think modern and yet it’s an ancient civilization so of course the buildings are old. Don’t get me wrong – I love old and inside these wonderfully old facades are some incredibly modern shops with the likes of Jimmy Choo among it’s residence.
The first thing you notice is the food, the most delicious “snack bars” with these delicious rolled sandwiches, deli food with olives and antipasto and pizzas piled high with artichokes and rocket, patisseries filled with Venetian Cremes and Creamed Cannoli. Italy has the best food in Europe hands down.
After coffee, great coffee and a couple of those rolled sandwiches with tuna and those tiny onions, we settled into wandering the streets. The endless maze of streets that in 2 days of wandering, we never crossed the same path twice. In fact on the second day we tried to find our way back to the harbourside because I wanted to do a boat trip to Burano, (where all the colourful houses are), but it took us all afternoon to find it again so we missed the boat. Not a big loss, we’re in Venice afterall.
Yes, when in Venice you should take a gondale trip through the canals with the gondale men in their striped shirts and boater hats guiding your way BUT… at 80 € for half an hour it kind of takes the romance out of it. It’s the job to have in Venice!! Still they do make the place and it’s a joy to watch them navigate themselves around each other, the other boats and the houses.
Some even come with their own accordian player and opera singer.
Loved loved the smooth varnished taxi boats with the leather upholstery with that guy in his captain’s hat and Marlboro cigerette hanging out of the corner of his mouth. Even if I hate cigerette. What is with Europe and all the cigerette smokers anyway?
I actually had a dream last night that I was stuck in the labyrinth of Venice and I couldn’t find my way out. Crazy.
So we spent two days in Venice, after the first day and god knows how many kilometers we walked, (I’m starting to feel in need of a hip replacement), we just felt like we couldn’t leave just yet, so we went back for a second round. It was amazing because yes – you can only see so much salami and so many italian leather bags and Venetian masks and blown glass ornaments but each narrow lane leads to somewhere just a little different from the last and so the magic continues.
With that life time goal achieved you would think the rest of Italy would be boring right. Well wait till I show you Tuscany.