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How Do You Know They Are Not Killers? — An Italy Trip Report

How Do You Know They Are Not Killers? — An Italy Trip Report

Old Apr 22nd, 2011, 10:36 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Ellenem, I am loving every word of your report. Thank you so much. We will be in Venice shortly for the first time, and I am on information overload from all my researching. But your report shares such a relaxed view, just the way we like to travel. I really appreciate your posts about restaurants, food items and prices, as I was worried that Venice might take us too over-the-top budget-wise. I am much relieved. (Love the Chorus Pass idea, by the way...)
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Old Apr 22nd, 2011, 10:53 AM
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It is difficult weigh the options to include in a trip report . . . too many details . . . too few . . . prices: yes or no . . . I've chosen to have a narrative, but also have enough helpful details for just the reason you cite. Now I know my report has relieved the anxieties of one traveler as well as given ideas for things to do. Glad to be of help — have a great trip!
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Old Apr 22nd, 2011, 11:04 AM
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You can up your count to two, ellenem! I'm taking careful note of your restaurant recommendations, especially the less expensive ones. We leave in a couple of weeks and can't wait!
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Old Apr 22nd, 2011, 12:02 PM
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Nice report, ellenem. We have spent a few trips to Venice doing just as you are doing. Following the Chorus Pass is a wonderful way to see Venice's churches and diverse neighborhoods. We also took a trip where we visited many of Biennale sites that were scattered about the city; another wonderful way to experience Venice.

About San Angelo Raffaelo: In Sally Vicker's book, Miss Garnet's Angel, the church figures prominently. It became a huge part of one our trips to see the things that Miss Garnet had seen, and using our Chorus Pass, we found many of them. The book was recommended to me on Fodors.

I like the way you travel, and the way you write. Thanks.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Old Apr 22nd, 2011, 12:16 PM
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ellenem - what useful information about the times that the mosaics in san Marco are illuminated and the influx of visitors between May and September. makes april and October look VERY attractive.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2011, 01:45 PM
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This is a lovely trip report! I love your unhurried approach. I'm especially loving the restaurant suggestions (and what you ate and your opinions). This will be a great help to me for my mid-September trip. I hope it won't be too jammed with tourists.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2011, 03:29 PM
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ellenem- the trip sounds fantastic. Our trip to Venice is in 6 weeks and you have given me a great amount of info, from the imob card,the chorus pass,restaurants with prices and of course gelato flavors. You have just our trip much better. Thank you and I'm looking forward to your report.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2011, 03:55 PM
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"Tiramisu and Pistachio" - my favorite words

Too bad we'll miss the planetarium - I'd love to visit! but we won't be in Venice on a Sunday
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Old Apr 22nd, 2011, 04:16 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
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Oh, why did I read this? I wanna go back! Whaah!
Seriously, I loved the report, except that it reminded so strongly of how much I loved the Bellinis in the Frari, and San Zaccaria, and San Franceso--and the mosaics (did you see the basilica on Murano?). Like tuscanlife, I went to find Angelo Raffaelo because of Miss Garnet's Angel. And I even ate at Al Vechio Canton--talked about salt cod with a couple from California. Is it reasonable to be nostalgic for a place you've only seen twice?
But this is a wonderful report, and the advice is terrific. the Chorus Pass is perfect for fans of Renaissance art, the lights are essential for making San Marco sparkle, and the crowds dissipate rapidly once you leave the "main drag".
And ellenem would make my ideal tour guide.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2011, 04:38 PM
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Lovely report. I am looking forward to our Italian trip (a whole month!) this fall. We won't get to go back to Venice, but we will again some day.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2011, 05:44 PM
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I am so glad to hear that so many are enjoying the report and finding value in the info. At the end of my trip report, I will make a condensed list of the restaurants mentioned with addresses, though I think you can find most online.

I haven't read Vicker's book though my guide book mentioned it, so perhaps I need to read it . . . after the new Donna Leon.

Perhaps I should give credit to the main guide I used for Venice, especially because it is . . . Fodor's "See It Venice." I liked its format and level of information. It has lots of maps by category. I added my own restaurant ideas directly to the guide's restaurant map.

This may be difficult to understand, but I'm not sure how many times I've been to Venice, or to Italy for that matter. I stopped counting years ago when I kept hopping over for short visits to various friends, in the days when everything was much cheaper. So let's say I've been to Venice about a dozen times. I hope that, more than anything else in this report, you are getting a sense of my joy to be there, having the luxury of this unhurried time. It really was a dream. As I said before, I'm already thinking about "next time."
ellenem is offline  
Old Apr 23rd, 2011, 07:18 AM
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Just to let you know, I'm away from home for the weekend, so the next episode will be posted on Monday.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2011, 07:38 AM
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Thank you for the wonderful report, I love your writing style!

Looking forward to your next episode - the only reason to look forward to a Monday
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Old Apr 23rd, 2011, 06:45 PM
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Thank you for a wonderful trip report. As a result we are considering Venice for our 30th anniversary next June. Unfortunately being married to a school teacher limits the times we can travel.
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Old Apr 24th, 2011, 08:19 AM
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Your writing is so readable, you include all the details that bring your trip to life for us.

And I like your attitude to food as you obviously enjoy it but don't treat each meal as if it's your last!

We should all have an R in Italy.
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Old Apr 24th, 2011, 12:31 PM
Join Date: Feb 2011
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Thanks for your insights!

I'm glad for all of your details, as we will be traveling in June-surely to be busy & hot, but we want our kids to be in on the action, too!

I'm taking notes on where to eat...! Thanks!
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Old Apr 25th, 2011, 01:49 PM
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Great report, Ellen. BTW - it's Monday, and we readers want the next installment NOW!
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Old Apr 25th, 2011, 01:53 PM
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I'm typing as fast as I can, though just want to add this postscript . . .

P.S. to DAY 5: I forgot to mention that Al Nono Risorto, the site of DAY 5’s dinner, was another recommendation of the Gelateria Suso scooper. I’ve eaten there twice before.
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Old Apr 25th, 2011, 04:13 PM
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DAY 6: Friday, 25 March 2011 -- Venice

Four Vineyards and a Funeral

I think it was over breakfast today that I asked P how we are doing — Have our days in Venice been interesting enough for him? Did we need to take a day trip to somewhere on the mainland to mix it up a bit? He assured me that we’d had a good variety and should continue as we’ve been doing.

And for today we have far and wide plans, which includes a variety of interests spread across the lagoon. We are happy to see yet another gorgeous sunny day for another long boat ride and hike. We’re headed first to Murano, so we vap hop to Ca D’Oro and walk to Fondamenta Nuove. We check bars along the way for the best-looking panini for a picnic lunch a bit later. We reach the fondamenta panini-less, so we figure we’ll search on Murano.

The Murano glass shops are just waking up as we walk from Colonna, though we’re not really here to shop for glass. We’re headed to the Museo del Vetro, the glass museum, which is included in the museum pass. Each room of this museum has translations of the didactic panels in multiple languages, so you can follow along with the history of glass and the glass-making process. Much of the second floor was given to a special exhibit — “90 Years of Venini.” I’ve always admired Venini glass so it was nice to see this chronological history of the company.

Next we intend to visit the Church of Santa Maria e San Donato. We arrive at the campo just in time to see a coffin lifted from a boat and onto a cart. The priest and mourners assemble for a procession and walk into the church. A local fellow keeps non-mourners from entering the church, so we must be satisfied to admire its colonnaded façade. We find some good-looking panini at a bar, have them warmed and wrapped, add a bottle of water, and our picnic is ready.

At the Faro vap stop, a few people are also waiting for the #13 boat. We’re headed to Sant’Erasmo, an island just as big as Venice proper, but with a very small population. Even the boat we take is smaller than usual, with a driver who also does the tying up and gate opening at each stop. The boat stops first at Vignole. From the schedule, there are three stops on Sant’Erasmo. The first stop is Sant’Erasmo Capannone at the south end of the island, where we and many other get off. There’s a building and a parking lot full of bicycles and a few cars, and a lot of fields and trees. We can see a few distant houses.

We walk west along the water’s edge — this seems to be a park, with a concrete bulkhead and walkway and occasional benches all along the shoreline. We stop at a bench and have our picnic, enjoying the sun and the view across the lagoon. We continue our walk to the end of the island and turn south. Soon we seem to be at the end of the park and a property line. It looks like one could follow the shoreline, but I am shy of trespassing, so we veer inland. I know that somewhere at this end of the island is the newly refurbished Forte Massimiliano. The first (and only) road we hit is “via Forte” so we assume we are on the right track and continue west.

We pass small farms and vineyards, modest homes with chickens and geese, and one fancy home under construction that will have a great view across the lagoon. At one small home, a homemade roadside altar shows the smiling face of young Vito, who died too young at age 19. We can see the north end of Lido on our right across the lagoon. Many of the farms have artichoke plants in careful rows, just beginning to show their spikey leaves. Eventually we reach the south point, the location of the fort. A poster lists a current art exhibit there. Too bad for us, it is closed until much later in the afternoon. Onward! At the point there is small snack bar and a sandy beach where a class of school children are at play. We could try to follow the beach, but choose to take the road instead. From the fort, the road turns northeast and we walk along, the sun at our backs.

We walk and walk and walk, meeting dogs and ducks and geese and artichokes. We don’t have a detailed map of the island, but do know that at some point, a road or two will veer off to the northwest, back to the side of the island where we can find our return boat. More farms. More ducks. A neat row of beehives. Farms, duck, vines. Finally we meet an unmarked dirt road that veers off in the correct direction, but we can’t see if it goes far enough, so we continue on our paved road. Eventually we meet a paved road in the correct direction, and can see across the flat farmland that it leads past a walled cemetery and toward a settlement of houses. The cemetery is a shady break from the midday sun, and is particularly lively looking since every gravestone has a colorful floral tribute as well as a photo of the person it honors. We find the final resting place of young Vito. On an island so small, it is no surprise to see the same family names repeated again and again on the gravestones.

We walk into town, the water directly in front of us, and can see a vaporetto landing straight ahead. We’ve come right to the Sant’Erasmo Chiesa stop! However, when we get nearer, we see that the landing dock is not attached to the shore and workers on a barge are making some repairs. This vaporetto stop is not operational. There’s no one around to advise us – the town, including the supermarket – is shut up tight. We decide that the best idea is to walk back to Capannone, though we have little idea how far that is. We’ve been walking for almost two hours, so it’s difficult to say.

Up ahead us there’s a fork in the road. Should we follow the shoreline or will the inland route be quicker? I spot two men at a small marina near the fork and ask which direction to Capannone. They indicate the inland road is best and then direct us “avanti, avanti, avanti, sempre avanti.” One fellow remarks that we should watch for the boat landing on the right, and that it’s about 3 km. P estimates a walking time (at our current pace in the hot sun) of at least 45 minutes, so we resign ourselves to the walk. More houses and vineyards. Good thing it truly is a lovely day walking past these field and fruit trees just coming into bloom. Along the treeless roads, we are in the sun for most of the walk.

Soon there is an increase in traffic coming toward us, from none to some – teenage cyclists, a few cars. It seems apparent that a boat has arrived at Capannone with all the high schoolers coming home from school. Then I spot the Capannone dock, after only 25 minutes of walking. We are both delighted. I remark that the overestimate in distance has made the walk more pleasant, since we’re now so happily relieved to walk no further. (P used a mapping website to determine that we walked a total of 4.1 miles or 6.6 km on Sant’Erasmo.) A vaporetto is waiting at the dock, so we get on and grab seats outside. We’re happy to be sitting in the shade for a few minutes, and watch as the locals arrive just in time for departure.

Here’s a break in my narration. P was inspired by the boat ride back to Fondamenta Nuove, and offers this description of the trip:

- - -

Ellenem and I were riding the vaporetto back from Sant’ Erasmo. It was a sunny day and we were enjoying the water and the view from the open air deck in the stern. Others were there, too — most notably a trio of young Italians, two young girls in their late teens and a boy of similar age enjoying their attentions. One girl was obviously in the lead, speaking loudly and insistently between puffs on her cigarette. Even though I do not understand Italian, the story she was telling was obviously about her triumph over some fool. The boy smiled weakly and struck a pose that made him look cool, all the while wondering when words would stop coming out of her mouth.

A specific moment in their social dance inspired me to write this song.

Il mare è così bello.
Il mare, che ci dà la vita.
Il mare è così romantico.
Il mare, non è il tuo portacenere.

I expect some gondoliers may want to add it to the repertoire.

The sea is so beautiful.
The sea, it gives us life.
The sea is so romantic.
The sea, it is not your ashtray.

- - -

As you can see, I enjoyed an even more fun trip than the reader has imagined. Thanks for your lyrical story, P!

Our other quest for the day is to visit the Venice Water Authority exhibit in Campo San Stefano. We are hoping for some interesting insights to the MOSE project and the ecosystem of the lagoon. To get to the Water Authority before closing time, at Fondamenta Nuove we switch to a #42 boat to San Zaccaria and walk to San Stefano. Along the way I exercise Ellen’s Rule #3: It is better to pay .90€ for an espresso and a restroom at a bar, than to pay 1.50€ for a public restroom. (In case you’re wondering -- Rule #1: If there’s a restroom, use it. Rule #2: Make friends with foreigners.)

At the Venice Water Authority visitor center, a bunch of chairs fills the room, making it unlikely that one would fight one’s way past them to the row of computers, which don’t seems to be turned on in any case. A fellow comes out of the back office and asks what we want. “To learn about MOSE,” we reply. So he pops in a DVD and leaves us to watch it. Never comes back. Disappointing. We vap hop from Sant’Angelo to San Silvestro, checking every pastry shop along the way to the hotel for the perfect Venetian cannolo that P had spotted a few days earlier. No luck, but we have hope.

Here’s a weird thing that happened, and I’m mentioning it precisely because it was weird and unexpected. When we got back to the hotel, P noticed that his hairbrush was gone. It was a small brush, and it’s likely that it fell on the floor and was swept up by housekeeping. With no other options, we decide to go find a hairbrush, unsure of where to do so in this neighborhood at almost 7PM on a Friday night. I suggest we head for the Rialto area, since there are so many shops. A woman at a pharmacy directs us to another shop. We examine the rack of 25-40€ hairbrushes . . . not quite what P had in mind. He just wants a small travel-size brush. Then the owner spins the rack, and there they are, almost the exact replacement for what was lost at a cost of about 5€. Moral of this small story: Secure your small items when you leave the hotel room. (Should this be Rule #4?)

We attempt dinner at Capitan Uncino in Campo San Giacomo dell’Orio, but they are totally reserved for the evening. So we walk around the corner to a simple place where I’ve eaten before, Trattoria Al Ponte del Megio. We had a light lunch and a long walk, so we are ready for a meal. P begins with spaghetti with dried tomatoes and smoked ricotta, while I have spaghetti with shrimp and radacchio in a green sauce. For second course, P had steak and vegetables and I had grilled branzino (a whole sea bass). I liked our quarto of the house pinot bianco with my fish.

P suggests that we go somewhere else for dessert, so we vap hop to the Strada Nuova and walk toward San Marco. We make a bad choice at an innocuous café – two sad tasting slices of cake for 3€ each. Later we note the same sad cakes at other places. We pass pricey Fiaschetteria Toscana on our way to Ponte Rialto, noting their pricey but promising-sounding dessert options. P remarks that he’d rather spend 10€ plus cover charge for a good dessert than 3€ for a bad one. (P’s Rule #1?) Lesson learned.

Walking back to the hotel, we consider what to do with our remaining two days. I notice that without even trying, I am getting a vacation tan.

TOMORROW: How Do You Know They Are Not Killers?
ellenem is offline  
Old Apr 25th, 2011, 06:53 PM
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I forgot to post this link to a description of a walk on Sant'Erasmo that made me think we couldn't go too far wrong by taking a walk there. (The odd English translation is entertaining as well.)

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