Sunday, March 11, 2007

Escaping Venice

Muzzles-off!Escaping Venice was a lengthy affair: vaporettos bound for the Tronchetto parking station seem to have, well, vaporised, and so I had to hop from one to another along the Grand Canal, to reach it.

For some reason we seem to be ill-favoured by being surrounded cranky old ladies (also found in Spain) whose lips have been marinating in limonato for decades. None were prepared to move from their end-of-bench positions to allow other passengers to sit but they were very eager to point out how much room Bondi took up.

Bondi, muzzled by law for the entire trip was not in a happy mood, and as our journey lengthened to nearly 90 minutes, was not able to understand why he was being punished in this way, especially as it made breathing awkward on such a warm day.

Once on the bridge to the mainland, it felt that we were re-entering the real world. Venice is certainly an extraordinary place, but the tension between locals and tourists is palpable. Locals, in the main, plainly dislike the tourists that provide Venice's dwindling population with an income. So visitors pay more for service varying from indifferent to hostile, and for food that you pay an outrageous scale for depending on whether your course came out of one little tin or was scooped out of a big tin. There is so much of great beauty on these little islands, but as an Irish lady recounted to me in Pisa the next day, Italy, and Venice in particular, is a beautiful whore.

The tourists are not blameless, particularly those in slow-moving shoals who are barely conscious of when they block a thoroughfare. Inability or indifference to attempting to smooth interactions using Italian greetings is not a fault unique to the Anglophone world: I was shouted at in Spanish, Hungarian (?) and Japanese. I didn't know whether I was more angry with them or with the waiters who felt they had to explain the difference between fish and pasta, until I overheard an American girl complaining that she didn't understand this "tor-torto-torte-tortellini" thing. What sort of zoo this place must be between Easter and September beggars belief.

Bologna Piazza Maggiore
Putting that behind us, we sped down the autostrada to Bologna, where we spent an hour or so circulating around the conjoined Piazza Maggiore and Piazza del Nettuna (Neptune).
4-IMG_0798  3-IMG_07966-STA_0793-C0795 Bologna [ice]  5-IMG_0790
For the last part of the day's journey, I took us off the highway for a leisurely winding turn through the mountainous countryside to the north of Florence, taking us down to outlying regions of Pisa where we would be spending the week.

Michael & Massimo  Antonella

Near Vicopisano, my B&B hosts Massimo and Jon, were dining out at a local wine & food club, an "enogastronomic" restaurant, and invited me along with their friends. The incredible quality of the food (at half Venice's prices) was a huge and welcome contrast to the last few days.

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