LA SERENISSIMA – October 4th

This be our last breakfast not-on-the-terrace. Aquamare has been very hospitable and gracious. Packing is simple. On the Riva degli Schiavoni, we board the same slow vaporetto (#1) to the train station, a couple stops further than yesterday. A vision passes on the other side of the Grand Canal this time. Ca’ d’Oro is as delicate a palazzo as we were led to believe.

We navigate the rail ticket purchase okay, but the train car’s mystifying, what with different classes of ticketing , reserved seats, poor signage, and everything. . On platform #5 next to ours is the Orient Express, shiny dark blue antique-looking cars with berths and formal place settings on the tables in the dining car. We just plop our butts, but at the next stop, someone asks us to move. Joss finds us seats near where we’re supposed to be: someone’s in our seats. Oh, who the fuck cares. It’s only a half hour ride to Padua at 150mph, something we can’t seem to manage in the US.

Hertz is not easy to find and then they don’t have our reservation, because, evidently, I didn’t make one or didn’t follow through with a ‘confirm’. I don’t have any documentation on hand and no way to get online. I suffer a small, discreet meltdown. After much fumbling, we’re informed that a car will be available at 2:30. Big sigh. We spend two hours at a nearby café, the haven of bewildered Hertz customers. And at 2:30, when the place reopens after lunch, voila!, a VW. Joss and I are much relieved, but worn out by the agita and the wait.

Joss skillfully navigates us onto, then off, the Autostrada, but once in Verona, we are confounded. We can’t seem to get even within spitting distance of Hotel Gabbia d’Oro (the Golden Chatterbox?), because of a restricted traffic zone and pathos generale. Desperately, impulsively, we dump the VW in an underground parking lot called ‘Arena’ and head off on foot, dragging the rolly noise behind us. Yep, that’s Verona’s Roman arena to the right – home to much ancient blood spilling and tomorrow night, Andrea Bocelli! Grouchiness is bubbling to the surface again.

Sort of by chance and damp exasperation, we roll up to the vine-covered entry of the Hotel Gabbia d’Oro. The lobby is all red velvet plush, oriental carpets, and polished wood. Engravings and watercolors cover the walls, e.g. Airedales of the 20th Century. There are hutches with odd silver pieces and fine porcelain and bowls of candy. Our rooms are on the fourth floor, under the eaves. The room keys feature a decorative iron key that must weigh as much as my suitcase. Joss takes the expansive ‘princess’ room, I the more modest ‘jester’ one. She is thrilled by the discovery of a tub and exploits it immediately.

There’s a decent restaurant nearby, I discover – Ristorante Greppia. We dine outdoors to our great satisfaction. On our way home, we pause for semi-adequate gelato, which is better than inadequate gelato or no fucking gelato at all.

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