LA SERENISSIMA – October 18th

On the today’s docket is a barge cruise down the Brenta Canal from Padua to Venice. We lug our luggage across the cobblestones, making the universal noise, and board Il Bruchiello at 7:45. Joss takes one look around and observes, “I’m the youngest one on this boat.” In addition to leisurely vistas, we will visit three Palladian villas – Villa Pisani, Villa Widmar, and Villa Foscari, known as La Malcontenta. Actually, Villa Widmar was not designed by Palladio. Villa Pisani is more a palace than a villa. It has over 100 rooms and an enormous ballroom with four chandeliers, a forty-foot ceiling, and convincing trompe l’oeil elements, notably elaborate Rococo woodwork. The obverse is true for Villa Widmar. It’s just a house. Frescoed to a fare-thee-well, of course, but simply a home. Prominently displayed is a very old telephone. Why? Some dispute with A.G. Bell? La Malcontenta, though, is the real Palladian deal. It doesn’t have the majesty of La Rotonda, but its exterior symmetry and the wonderful faded frescoes throughout create a sense of almost painful sophistication. Our guide for the day speaks for eight hours straight, first in Italian, then German, and finally English. Rinse and Repeat.

We have been hoping for rain. This whole trip – NOT ONE DROP. Instead today we have a dense, chill fog. Interesting lunch sidebar – the red wine vinegar on the table is called Aroma Antico, or Old Smell.

Once again, we approach Venice via the Lagoon. This somehow makes the magic of our journey complete. Our final Italian resting place, the Savoie and Jolanda, is a few steps from the drop-off and just across the Riva degli Schiavoni from the Alilaguna Blue Line which will transport us to the airport tomorrow. I inquire at the front desk for a dinner recommendation. I am so through making decisions every five fucking minutes. Her suggestion results in a quiet dinner at Osteria ae Spezia; pasta with cuttlefish for Joss and a chicken cutlet for me. Our final gelato is at La Mela Verde. When we get back to the hotel, rather than go to our rooms, we opt for a stroll along the quay to the Amerigo Vespucci, Italy’s tall ship and very formidable. Its three masts are lit green, white, and red.

Ciao.

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