As I write this from my home in Massachusetts, my cell phone sits on the sink-top of a bathroom in the Mionetto Winery in the Veneto. I left it there last week. The staff at the winery has promised to mail it to me.
We rented a palazzo on the Grand Canal, my husband and I, and two of my sisters and their husbands . From our tall windows above the canal, in our piano nobile, we watched the world pass by; the vaporetto stopped just feet from our door, and we all got along.
The palazzo was graced with 20 foot ceilings and long,
The city is made for wandering. We got lost a lot. If you’ve been to Venice, I’m sure you’ve been lost, too. I've witnessed Venetians themselves asking for directions.
It's not immediately obvious, but there are no cars in Venice. No scooters buzzing by, no streets at all. Just sidewalks and canals.
When you step off the train or the bus or boat from Mestre on the mainland, as you must do, onto the island-city that is Venice, you enter a 500-year-old world. There is not merely an historic district, which, typically, tourists seek and gravitate toward—but an entire city that is an historic district. There is no urban sprawl or blight, no suburban Venice. That’s all on the mainland and stays on the mainland.
I found puzzling that there is very little police presence in Venice. There appears to be no one minding the priceless artworks, the crowds in the ancient piazze, the crumbling palaces and astonishing churches. Even the vaporetti seem to set their own rules for speed and navigational protocol, that is, no rule at all.
At the famed Peggy Guggenheim museum in Dorsoduro on the Grand Canal, tourists entered from outside and exited directly to the outside through doorways in the galleries themselves, doors which were opening and closing constantly, exposing the artwork to whatever the weather happened to be at that moment. I asked a guard about that and she told me that they do control the humidity, and most of the paintings are under glass.
But outside, I watched as a group of high school students on a field trip, cigarettes in hand, draped themselves over one of the marble garden sculptures (it could have been a Giacometti or a Goldsworthy or a Max Ernst) and took pictures of each other. Try that in the courtyard of the Isabella Stewart Gardner or the MFA.
Yet here amidst the Jackson Pollacks and the Picassos, the de Koonings, and Magrittes, no museum personnel seemed to be on high alert, or even concerned.
And again, at the Scuola Grande of Saint Roch, and at the accompanying Church of Saint Roch, where the walls and ceilings are completely covered with Tintoretto canvases, it is easily possible to rub up against the images as you ascend the stairway to the next gallery-- they are only inches from the handrail you slide along, and are protected only by sleepy, indifferent guards.
At the train station there was no one collecting tickets, neither in the station nor on the train itself. Strange…
On Tuesday we met our boat captain for a private tour of Venice's canals and islands (Murano, Burano, Torcello, San Michele). By noon we stopped on Burano for lunch,
cichetti plate. It’s generally fresh and well-prepared.
On Wednesday, by pre-arrangement by my brother-in-law,Vin (no pun intended), who works for a major wine importer, we ventured off to the Veneto, to the land of prosecco production. We had an appointment with the management of the Mionetto Winery
But lunch was first, and a wonderful one it was too.
Trattoria alla Cima in the hills of Valdobbiadene, in the DOC zone of prosecco wine cultivation.
The Mionetto staff explained the history of the area and of the recent (in 2009) name change of the grape “prosecco,” to the more historic name, “glera.” The change was intended to protect the historic zone and the name of prosecco, since it is the name of the grape and the wine.
blog on the subject.
One of the wines we sampled was a new product for Mionetto called "il Spritz."
Aperol, sparkling water, and sparkling white wine. In Venice, a spritz is served before dinner and is traditionally made by combining all four ingredients at the bar. Mionetto hopes to market this pre-mixed spritz to US consumers starting this summer. We were tasting this product pre-launch!
In the evenings our main goal was to decide where to eat. We seldom consulted a guide book but usually took our chances and returned to interesting places we had found earlier in the day.
Toward the end of the week, when most of us had our bearings, we ventured out on our own. We visited lots of churches, one more astonishing than the next. We never returned home the same way twice but always knew we had entered our own calle when we saw the mannequin with the plaid trousers in the window of a clothing store just up the way from our palazzo. When we saw the plaid pants, we knew we were home.