The last time Eitan and I visited Venice was on our honeymoon 40 years ago. It was a miserable trip: It was the depth of winter and freezing cold. Eitan had failed Math I at Natal University and was about to fly back to Durban to re-write the exam (which he subsequently passed with distinction) while I continued to Israel alone and angry. In fact when we talked about it, the only thing about Venice we remembered was being miserable in a gondola.
How different was this wonderful trip, with the sun shining and us relaxed
and happy. Even leaving our camera behind (these pictures were taken with
a throw-away camera) and my being pick-pocketed were taken in our stride.
is no picture of us in a gondola; instead we either took the vaporette,
the efficient waterbus, or walked. The side canals were almost deserted
but the Canale Grande looked like a Brueghel painting. One time as we approached
the vaporette station I saw that the waterbus was already there, ascertained
that it was the right direction and rushed to catch it. As I jumped on,
Eitan who was close behind said, "You know that you're not on the boat?"
I was so surprised that I nearly fell over, picking up both feet as if
on hot coals. The boat hadn't yet arrived; I had rushed madly to jump on
the floating station platform tied to the canal edge.
No visit to Venice would be complete without the San Marco area, its churches and the parade area, which were crowded with people. There was much else to see: many piazzas and churches, outstanding among them were Tintoretto's frescoes at Scuola Grande di San Rocco.
Of course we visited the Venetian
Ghetto Nuovo, the first ghetto in the world. The word 'ghetto' means
foundry, the area to where the Jews were forced to move in 1516. They were
locked in at night and almost all aspects of their life were limited. The
Jews were allowed to build synagogues but had to keep a low profile, so
they built their places of worship above apartments. The five windows,
hinting at the Pentateuch, were the sign of a synagogue inside.
Markets fascinate us and the mercato behind the Rialto Bridge was no
food and frequent sex are two things that make holidays a special delight.
And Italy…..! Here Eitan is sitting with various pastramis and cheeses
prior to a picnic lunch. Eitan watching me as I was moaning with delight
at the delicious mozzarella de buffala remarked, "Doreen, really. You've
already come twice today." A few days later at Urbino after making
love in the morning I said to Eitan, "I hear bells!" We lay listening
as all the church bells in Urbino started to peal after which I had to
add, "Sorry, it wasn't THAT good."
Towards the end of our trip, while buying more mozzarella, the market shopkeeper suggested we try burrata pugliese, a type of fresh mozzarella with an incredibly creamy center. We both agreed that burrata pugliese was a four-bell cheese.
Photo: Prospero Cravedi
Despite misgivings that it was the "Republic of Kitsch", we made our
way through The Marches to the tiny Republic of San Marino. The town
perched high on a hill was pretty but misty weather masked the spectacular
scenery. We drove from there to Urbino on the small windy country roads,
stopping on the way by the roadside for a quiet lunch. Later the mist cleared
enough to glimpse the gorgeous scenery.
My copy of the Lonely Planet is dotted with stars, marking places that
we have previously visited. Although Urbino was not marked both Eitan and
I were certain that we had visited it before. On the other hand the next
place, Gubbio a medieval town, which was marked as visited did not look
even vaguely familiar. Today elevators move people up to the churches perched
on the hillside.
Our next stop was in Perugia, home to the famous Baci chocolates. Like all the other towns there was an art exhibition of the famous painter connected to the town, here Perugino. The poster is above the entrance to public escalators that move people up and down the various levels of this hilltop town.
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