Thursday, May 8, 2014

Feet, Don't Fail Me Now

We've been here five days and except for our arrival from the airport we have gone everywhere on foot. Of course, you may be saying, it's Venice, there are no cars. Well, yes, I noticed.

But what I mean is that we have yet to take a vaporetto or a gondola or a water taxi, or any form of transportation other than what used to be called shank's mare (don't ask me why, that's what Google is for).  And my feet are feeling it.  I think we must be logging four or five miles a day, up and down bridges, over canals, through tunnels, along quays.  We've been in all six sestiere, and there are very few straight lines. Luckily there are bars and caffès, so we stay well hydrated.  Prosecco for 3 euros!

Gene has been commenting on how inexpensive it has been to drink and snack all over town.  It's rarely more than 8 euros for a couple of drinks and a plate of cichetti.  Unfortunately that often means standing up, as many of these places don't bother with seating.  You pop in, down a glass of something and a bite of something else and move on.  We've been frequenting a wine bar called Cantinone giá Schiavi, on a canal near here where customers can take their glasses and plates outside, lean on the parapet, and hang out.  The only drawback is that no one behind the bar has ever cracked a smile as far as we can tell.  Maybe they charge extra for that.

On the other hand, people can be extraordinarily nice. Yesterday at the Cantinone we began talking with an Italian family visiting from Lake Garda, grandparents, parents and an adorable 10 month old bambina.  They wanted to know all about San Francisco.  Was it really like that old TV show, The Streets of San Francisco? Were all the streets steep?  How long did it take to fly from there?  What's the weather like? How did we like Italy?  Where else were we going in Italy?  They were warm and generous, insisting on buying us more drinks despite our protest that we'd had enough.

And an odd story: several years ago while we were living in Paris we visited Milan and at dinner there got into a long  conversation with a Venetian couple visiting their son at school in Milan.  We exchanged phone numbers and promptly forgot about it.  Cleaning out my travel wallet I came across Patrizio's name and number and Gene encouraged me to call.  I reached the wife, who clearly didn't remember me from Eve but told me her husband was in Spain on business and wouldn't be back until we left.  OK, too bad.  Except that wasn't the end.

Yesterday my cellphone rang and a man's voice said  "hello, it's Patrizio."  I was stunned. His wife had told him I had called, he said, and of course he remembered us, mentioning the name of the restaurant in Milan where we had met, and he very much wanted to see us and were we free for dinner the night he got back to Venice, the night before our departure ?  He would come straight from the airport to meet us.  I demurred, he insisted.  We seem to be having dinner.  Gotta love these Italians.

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