At ten o’clock we bid Belluno arrivederci. Earlier, a preemptive scan of Google Maps revealed nearby villages that no roads lead to named Mel, Gus, Gena, and Barp. “I went to Barp and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.” Today our aim will be true. Next stop – Treviso. We’re going down, down onto the Veneto plain from whence we came. After many spookily endless tunnels, the VW arcs over a trestle that spools out in front of us for miles while it threads back and forth across the valley floor.
Semi-impulsively, I pull off the highway to stop in the small town of Vittorio Veneto. Some sources say Zeffirelli shot scenes from Romeo and Juliet in its streets and piazzas. I can’t confirm this, but there are some striking spaces and buildings. After strolling as the day warms up, we sit down for a double espresso. The couple sitting in front of us is cinematically elegant. She smokes; he slouches. He is wearing the navy blue crewneck sweater and collared shirt that seems, with only slight variations, to be the uniform of a certain large subset of Italian men. And shades. She appears to be created out of the smoke of her own cigarettes.
We don’t linger. Treviso calls. Again, caution concerning our nemesis, zona di traffico limitata, has us plop the car in a lot and search for our new lodgings on foot. We ring the bell and a bell-like voice answers. I identify myself as a guest. Silence. Bummer. We turn back the way we came. We are startled when a small man in a green brocade tunic stops us. “Come with me,” he says and leads us back. Our lodgings are a palazzo that has been designed with understated, over-the-top, Italian style. The only flaw is the heavy scent of too many lilies. Our hostess, Anna, undertakes to help us move our car from the lot to the back of the palazzo.
Treviso is enchanting, with streams cutting channels through the renaissance city. These waterways are fast-moving and shallow, used to power mills, not for transportation, like Venice. The city fish market is under a arched metal shed on an island called Il Mulini. The current on either side washes the fish slop away after the market shuts down. At least four waterwheels turn, now just for the pure romance of it. Treviso can be compared to Venice, but unfairly. Far smaller in size and ambition, it has charmed me completely.
I can’t help but notice signs of an ongoing literary conference called CartaCarbone, Carbon Paper. It appears to be four years old and exclusively Italian. Joss and I unsuccessfully visit the Duomo. This shortcoming becomes the basis for a riff on the potential for a Homo Duomo. The permutations are endless. We sit on a stone bench in the main piazza as the twilight gathers, eating the last the crumbs of our Cortina cookies and people-watching. Then we search for the restaurant where Anna has reserved a table for us. It is a sophisticated place, but a couple is feeding their puppy under the table and at another table another couple is negotiating with their toddler while their young daughter plays with a noisy Speak-and-Spell device.
We sleep under canopies.