Our month in Venice

Old May 29th, 2009, 07:34 PM
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If you're going to give a lecture, then be sure to pronounce cicchetti as chee-KEHT-tee, breaking the syllables between the double Ts.

Similarly bruschetta is brews-KEHT-tah, cotto is COHT-toh, spaghetti is spa-GEHT-tee, panna is PAHN-nah . . .
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Old May 29th, 2009, 08:04 PM
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ellenem, thanks. That's a great way to think about the Italian double consonants. The books usually just say to hold them longer.

The different ways of thinking about it make sense for different consonants. A "T" can sort of be "doubled" by leaving an instant between the closure and the break of what would otherwise just be a tap of the tongue. An "N", on the other hand, can just be dragged out - it's not exactly doubled.

The trouble with all this is that no matter what the books say, in practice I find I can't really tell by listening if a consonant is double or not. The Italians seem to pronounce them long or short just depending on how they feel, what they want to emphasize, or how it fits the musicality of the sentence.
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Old May 29th, 2009, 08:05 PM
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I agree, and go round the bend about "bruschetta". There is some stupid brand of frozen pizza named "Freschetta", and in the ads they say fre-SHE-ta.

And how about poor Terry Schiavo--the indignity of her condition was compounded by the mispronunciation of her name by all the reporters. Shame!

God, I just looked back and saw I'd written "chi" instead of "ci", when I was talking about cicchetti. Trust me, I know the difference.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 09:22 AM
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I always imagined a conference between representatives of the "Freschetta" company and their ad agency, with the ad agency people saying, "Trust me, people will pronounce it fre-SHEH-tah no matter what you do."

Sort of like that legendary conference in which the ad agency proposed the slogan, "With a name like Smucker's it's got to be good." To that, the Smucker family immediately replied, "What's the matter with Smucker's?"

In sandwich shops, I just quietly ask for a <i>panino</i>. Generally, nobody even notices.

ellenem, the more I think about it, the more I like your way of thinking about the double consonants. I've never seen this way of looking at it. I've been studying Italian for a dozen years (only at the once-a-week level), and the text we use ("Prego") never used this method (perhaps because it's designed for use in a class that has a teacher who can pronounce things for you). Dictionaries that show pronunciation don't generally break words up into syllables, except to show the tonic accent.

But as I pronounce your examples:

bruschetta as brews-KEHT-tah
cotto as COHT-toh
spaghetti as spa-GEHT-tee
panna as PAHN-nah

the placing of the first of the double consonants at the end of the previous syllable seems to always produce an accurate rendition. And this is the case whether the doubled consonant is a stop, like "T", or a continuant, like "N". It does this by holding the consonant for the duration of the brief gap that the reader inserts between the syllables.

So thanks for writing.

Larry
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Old May 30th, 2009, 08:32 PM
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marisylvia, I am feeling quite inspired by your report. My mind is racing with thoughts of the possibility of returning to magnificent Venice! This time DH & I would stay 2 wks.in an apt. We have never done an apt. so I have a question, and please tell me if I'm being too nosy....do you have any idea what you might have spent on food per week? Did you eat out once a day? I'm trying to put together some kind of budget for a 2 wk. trip. Again, I'm enjoying your report immensely....your photos are creative and tell the story so well of bella Venezia.
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Old May 31st, 2009, 04:56 AM
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Years ago an Italian friend explained syllable breaks very simply for me: With only one consonant, break the syllable after the vowel; with two consonants, break between the consonants.
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Old May 31st, 2009, 05:00 AM
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By the way, our discussion of syllables began when I asked the Italian word for "tassel"--

nappa (NAHP-pah) is a tassel

napa (NAH-pah) might refer to the same cabbage we know.

I'm not sure if there are other examples that might cause the same confusion.
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Old May 31st, 2009, 02:17 PM
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marisylvia - did you take empty wine bottles or water bottles to the wine bar to fill up?
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Old May 31st, 2009, 02:45 PM
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RSTravellers, We spent nine weeks in Venice last Christmas, and this is what I wrote about food costs:
I know I keep banging on about food, but one does have to eat three times a day, approx. I’d expected fresh food to be expensive (I’m not sure why I expected this, but there you go). So I thought a list of things would be good.
Wine – you can buy drinkable wine for 4 Euro a bottle, and it will be better than Australian generic wine – Jacob’s Creek, for example. Spirits – vodka, Baileys, etc – are about Euro 10.00 a bottle.
Meat – Red meat is expensive. Good quality minced beef plus pork is Euro 9.90 a kilo. It makes good ragu for spag Bol, and is good value.
Here’s an interesting one – chicken livers are about Euro 6.90 a kilo, indicating that they are not treated as awful offal, as they are in Aus.
Chicken breast fillet – say Euro 7.00 a kilo, which is about AUD 14.00 – almost the same as in Melbourne.
Bread – Euro 3.20 per kilo, and it is sold by weight.
Mussels – about 3.00 a kilo, but more exotic crustacea cost more – and are worth every cent. Razor clams are excellent, 12.00 a kilo, and are live.
Can’t comment on eel.
Tripe costs more than chicken – what we Aussies see as un-saleable, Venetians see as special.
Glass of wine and a little roll, a panini, about 4.50, taken at the bar.
Vegetables are about the same as in Melbourne, except for exotics. Potatoes and carrots – two Euro a kilo, tomatoes 3.50, radiccio 3.90, parsley thrown in for free. All in all, we find that we are spending not much more on food than we would in Melbourne.
Coffee and croissant – costs Euro 2.10, taken at the bar at our local. Expect to pay 3.40 if you want to have a table. But just a coffee at the Bar Americano at San Marco will set you back 2.00. It all depends on location – or maybe they think that Americans are loaded. If you want a coffee to go, drink it at the bar quickly, unless you come from an adjacent shop or gondola, in which case take cup, saucer and all.

Eating out is not a killer. We ate well last night – a shared entree, plus two main courses (we both had the pork shank) plus a shared dessert and bottle of wine – 65 Euro, including service, bread, tablecloth. The same meal in Melbourne would cost AUD 120, so it seems good value. A five Euro tip seemed completely justified.

We're planning a return visit in 18 months, and budgeting 120 Euro per day for everything, except for rental. That will cover the costs amply.
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Old May 31st, 2009, 04:47 PM
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Going briefly back to our discussion of double consonants in Italian: ellenem gave some example of word pairs that are distinguished only by a double consonant, and wondered if there are a lot of those. Indeed, there are. This web page gives a bunch:

http://italian.about.com/library/weekly/aa082703a.htm

There are also web sites where you can hear the pronunciations, which is the best way to understand how they sound. Here's an example:

http://www.geocities.com/f_pollett/i-1-4.htm
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Old May 31st, 2009, 06:25 PM
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Gosh, Peter_S_Aus, thanks so much for taking the time to post all the good info.! It does give me a much better idea as to the cost of food. We would want to frequent the fresh food markets often for fruits & veg. DH would love the mussels and clams, but I'm with you Aussies when it comes to tripe. I'm steering clear of that "delicacy", and I use the term loosely. I assume cheese, prosciutto, and baked goods are also a good value. This is probably a silly question, but I've never grocery shopped in Italy....are dairy products readily available? As far as eating out, we have learned sharing is definitely the way to go. Thanks again, Peter, and, marisylvia, I would really appreciate your input on this subject.
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Old May 31st, 2009, 06:43 PM
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Interesting comment re dairy products. We bought all sorts, and the range is huge - much bigger than in Aus. I think you would find less "fat free" cheese than in the USA or Aus, as the Italians think that cheese is meant to have a high fat content.

Bread is excellent, real "staff of life" stuff, and fresh pasta is common and excellent. Meat and poultry is sold differently. In Aus, we are used to buying say a tray of chicken drumsticks, or thigh fillets, and in Venice, you are more likely to find the whole fowl. So buy the fowl, and make chicken stock for rissotto. There are rabbit, game birds, duck, and even horse (which we did not try).

I wrote a rather long sort of trip report with considerable useless info - you'd find it if you click on my name. I should have titled it "Two Australians blunder around Venice".
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Old May 31st, 2009, 07:22 PM
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For what it's worth, here's where we stayed. http://realvenicevacationflats.com/ We had the second floor apartment, so you can visualise me sitting in the little alcove beside the unused fireplace writing about our time in Venice. The apartment worked well. It's not particularly luxurious, but we liked the location and the kitchen was well equiped - even better equipped when we left, because we bought a few bits and pieces that stayed when we left. If you chose to stay there, a piece of advice. Take a decent kitchen knife or two - that was the only thing lacking in the kitchen.
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Old Jun 1st, 2009, 04:46 AM
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Very interesting
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Old Jun 1st, 2009, 09:25 AM
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hi, RST,

although we were only in venice for a week, we ate in quite a lot as we had our [quite large] kids with us. mainly we bought breakfast type stuff, cornetti [croissants] bread, [our owner recommended one the other side of the rialto though we preferred one our side of the bridge] milk, eggs, but for easter sunday, we bought some lamb, potatoes [the seller asked if they were to roast or boil to make sure we got the right ones] and asparagus, plus fruit of course. all lovely, and great fun buying it. they are used to tourists pointing, and are very patient, all things considered.

a useful phrase to know is "un etto" meaning 100 grs or about 4ozs. so "due etti" will get you 1/2 lb of cheese, or prosciutto. "un mezzo kilo" will get you about a lb of apples [mele] or tomatoes [pomodori] and "un kilo" will get you a lot of potatoes!!

regards, ann
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Old Jun 1st, 2009, 11:11 AM
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Hi RST,

John and I ate all our breakfasts and dinners in the apartement, except for the wine tasting evening. I saw Peter's informative post, which you should find helpful.

John and I do not eat meat or fowl, but enjoyed the excellent seafood in Venice at lunchtime. We would alternate between pizza lunches, a huge pie for 6 to 16 euros, generally around 10 or so, big enough to split, which is often done. We would get a half liter of wine for 3-5 euros, and a bottle of mineral water for 2-3 euros. We would splurge maybe twice a week at a fancier restaurant, really splurge--maybe 150 euros, as we weren't spending on any other eating out, and it was worth it. There are some fine restaurants in Venice.

Our biggest food expenditure was strawberries for our cereal, we went to the food stalls in Cannaregio, and they were 4-6 euros for a basket. Fresh asparagus was in season, and it was a bit pricey, but worth it, comparable to what you'd pay here.

I did really simple dinners, mainly a big salad (we had to buy a big enough bowl for this, which we took home with us) and pasta. We found great butter lettuces, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes at the markets, not very expenive. I found good frozen ravioli at Billa, but then enjoyed some of the great dried truffle, porcini, spinach or red pepper fettucini available at speciality shops, which I would serve with garlic sauteed in either butter or good olive oil, with freshly grated parmesano reggiano. I also found frozen minestrone soup at Billa, and added canned beans and seasonings for a great soup. Also at Billa are small bottles of olive oil with truffles and other seasonings, very reasonable compared to here, which worked well to drizzle lightly on the cooked pasta.

I agree with everyone about the breads, too. And I bought some lovely butter, too, which lasted a long time in the fridge.

I also agree about the knives if you're renting an apartment. Bring your own in your checked bag.

I found that food in Venice markets was comparable in price to what we pay here. If you rent an apartment, you can definitely have a reasonably priced vacation in Venice. Plan ahead, too, on things like the Museum Card, which you can order online. We also got the iMob vaporetto card, which really saved us a lot for the month. We walked a lot, but found the vaporetto such fun.

We paid 2,800 euros for a month in our apartment, and I'd recommend it (I gave the link at the start of the trip report) if you don't mind sleeping on a really hard mattress. I have a Dux bed at home, and I am used to a supportive (not soft) mattress. The location is great, and it is a good size, plus we enjoyed the view of the Fondamenta. We saw Yvonne T.'s apartment too, and her rent was less than ours. No view, but comfortable, and with a workable kitchen. I'm sure she'd give you the link for it if you ask.

SCFoodie, we didn't think to bring a water bottle; it would be great for prosecco, as someone recommended. We drank the prefectly good tap water at the apartment. The guy at the enoteca is adept at putting the cork back in your wine bottle. House wine in Venice is always a good deal at restaurants, too.

I hope this information will help you to take your trip to this amazing, fascinating, enchanting place, like nowhere else in the world. Good luck!
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Old Jun 1st, 2009, 11:24 AM
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marisylvia - thanks again for the info on the house wine / bottles. We are booked for a week in Venice in November and that particular wine bar is only a few minutes walk from where we are staying. And I agree about the house wine in the cafes/restaurants. We always ordered it and found it yummy and inexpensive. I am so looking forward to enjoying it again!

I am loving your trip report and photos!
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Old Jun 1st, 2009, 01:32 PM
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Peter, annhig, & marisylvia, thank you, thank you for all the great info.! You gave me exactly what I was looking for and, annhig thanks for the phrases....always very good to know for first-time market shoppers. The asparagus sounds wonderful...one of my favorite foods. Peter, your apt. appears quite acceptable, but I'm also drawn to yours, marisylvia. I love the 2 balconies overlooking the canals. And, marisylvia thank you for such helpful details. I've been anxious to learn what routine you & John had as far as food preparation and making food purchases. I'm also a fan of fruit & cereal. I would have to buy those strawberries no matter what the cost! Well, I probably couldn't pass up the asparagus either for that matter. Hmmm, frozen minestrone...didn't imagine that, but definitely appealing. I can tell the two of you ate well during your month in Venice. I'm officially very psyched for a return trip and I appreciate your good wishes.
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Old Jun 1st, 2009, 05:06 PM
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Hi SCFoodie and RSTravelers,

I'm glad the information was helpful. Isn't this a great community?

SCF, you must be near the Accademia. We stayed near there the first trip, and love the area. Good for you.

RST, I think Casa Allegra is a good deal overall. Renato, our host, lives in Rome, but his sister, Allegra (it had been her apartment) lives in Venice, and is available for emergencies. Renato is very responsive by email. He is an art photographer, well known, and is the son of an Irish painter who settled in Venice. His father's paintings are in the apartment. Renato is very proud of the apartment; I think you can tell from his description on the website. I mention his parentage because his English is excellent, probably better than most Americans'.

We enjoyed the French doors with balconies, but I'll warn you that it's hard for two people to enjoy the view at the same time, as they are rather narrow windows, and there is absolutely no way you can put a chair on the balcony--it's really a window with a railing across. We appreciated having the small second bedroom to put our our suitcases, and there's a metal bookshelf which was helpful, too. The clothes storage in the main bedroom was more than adequate for hanging and putting clothes in drawers. There is an ethernet DSL connection on a table in the living room. There's a TV there too, I tried to turn it on once and got no picture, but I didn't really care. I liked the eat in kitchen; the gas stove is very good. The fridge is small, no freezer. I tried to use the oven once, to make a stuffed pepper recipe Yvonne T. sent me, and I turned on the broiler instead of the oven (!!!). John noticed something was burning, and they were actually OK, a little singed on top, but I'm glad I'd put them on a lower shelf. I found the oven setting difficult to understand, even after finding the manual. It's not in Fahrenheit, that's for sure.

We loved the location. As I mentioned, the Billa is nearby, but so is the Cannaregio market, and the Rialto market, the creme de la creme, isn't far, either. There's a traghetto, great fun and only a half euro to cross, at S. Marcuolo.

If you stay at Casa Allegra, you'll have me to thank for the spiffy wheeled cart in the apartment. I think such a cart is a necessity in Venice, even more than other European cities. We also left an attractive caffe press, as we like "regular" coffee rather than espresso with breakfast, and enjoy espresso at lunch.

Speaking of cereal, when we're in Europe we enjoy Nestle's Fitness flakes. They are whole wheat, and available throughout Europe.

As for the strawberries and asparagus, those were in season when we were there, also the small artichokes. We have found that you can get very good produce in Venice. You'll have fun in the Billa market, especially if you follow the advice about labeling your produce. I also suggest bringing your own bags or have the wheeled cart. You do your own bagging, and it goes very fast. You'll be asked in Italian if you need a borsa (bag) or have a Billa card, and it's nice that they'll understand if you say "No".

Oh my, if only we could return soon!
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Old Jun 1st, 2009, 05:19 PM
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We have used our empty 21-inch roller suitcases as wheeled shopping carts for groceries.

In addition to a good knife, we also bring a small ice cube tray.

Excellent report, marisylvia!
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