We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Another visit to the doctor, or an ape in Venice

Yes, there is a hospital in Venice.  It's even possible you may have walked by this building, stopped to take photos and never knew you were snapping a shot of the  Ospedale Civile.  This magnificent marble facade on the front of the Scuola Grande di San Marco is home to some of Venice's grandest lions. And inside the doorway is the home of Venice's medical department, including the Emergency Ward.  This is where I normally go when I have an appointment with my Orthopedic surgeon.  Notice I wrote normally.

Scuola Grande di San Marco, in Campo San Giovanni e Paolo

A few months ago I experienced some unusual pains in my left knee, the one that already has a titanium joint. Sensing something weird was going on, I made an appointment with the Orthopedic doctor. The earliest appointment I could get was not at Ospedale Civile. I'd have to go over to the Lido instead.  

Getting myself to Ospedale al Mare was a whole new experience. Vaporetto to Lido, then the bus to Piazzale Rava (Piazzale what??? Lido is way out of my comfort zone, I had no idea where or what this is).  After asking a few questions at the bus stop, I was assured I was headed in the right direction.  Where should I get off?  I should have known.  Just follow the crowd. Everyone headed to Piazzale Rava is going to Ospedale al Mare.

 Ospedale al Mare, at Piazzale Rava, Lido

The Ospedale complex at Lido is huge, and mostly unusable- old, in ruins.  This far end of it has been  getting some restoration, in fact a brand new radiography department has just opened. Now you can go to Ospedale al Mare for blood work and x-rays, among other things.

I've been out to Ospedale al Mare three times since that first appointment,  including yesterday. I'm a pro by now. And, I have to say, I really like this place. It's fairly easy to get to, and far less crowded than it is at Ospedale Civile. I get in and out of there in way less time than it normally takes to visit the specialist.  And the Orthopedic doctor is one I really like.  I'd been to him several years before when he used to have an office in Dorsoduro.  And, as he recently pointed out, he and I share the same birthday. Not the reason I like him, but it is another factor in the plus column! All things considered, having to go to Ospedale al Mare is a win-win. 

Yesterday I had to return to the dr. for "controllo", which in English is equivalent to a follow up visit. He was going to take a look at the current x-rays and make a diagnosis as to what is causing the pains in my knee.  Thankfully, the verdict was not the dire prediction he had made on my first visit. He was talking a whole new knee replacement then. Fortunately, it is not the joint. Yahoo. Happy Dance time.  He prescribed physical therapy over at FateBeneFratelli. (if you've read some of my earlier posts, you might recall this place).  Ok, thanks, Dr. I'll take that!

Before leaving his office, I mentioned that I need to have another series of Hyaluronic acid injections in my other knee.  He reminded me that he is retiring at the end of this month, that won't be possible.  "Yes, I remember you are retiring, Dr., but can't I make an appointment anyway. Won't there be another doctor here? "  He laughed.   Non so and non mi interessa! "I don't know and I don't care."
I totally get his point. He's counting days to retirement. I wouldn't care either!  Then he adds, "Look, in a while, after a few weeks, just call my house.  You can come after 6pm and I can give you the injections there. You live close to the Lido, that will work fine. But not in July. I'm spending time with my grandson at the beach. "

I'm pretty sure I won't be interrupting his long deserved retirement by popping in for those shots. But...who knows. If I have to go back to Ospedale Civile and can't get an appointment any time soon, I just might. 

Happy retirement, Dr!  I will miss this guy! 

Oh, and there's one more thing I really like about the trip to Ospedale al Mare.  There are these little sidewalk shacks/cafes along the street where the bus drops off and picks up.  Perfect for a coffee (or spritz for all you spritz drinkers) and a cornetto.

Oops. Make that two more things I really like. I get to see an ape or two while I'm out there. Ape. A-P-E. Ah-pey.  The Piaggio Ape is this tiny little truck you see all over Italy, even here on the Lido.  The name ape, which in Italian means bee, refers to the work ethic of this little gem.    I want one.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

La Contessa and Me

Beach season kicked off May 24 on the Lido, but I unfortunately did not get the chance to enjoy the beach until this week.  Once again, I have a share in a summer cabana (capanna ) at a private beach, and I've made a promise to myself I WILL use it more than I did last summer!

I'll never forget the first time I tried to find the beach where my capanna is located at last summer. I had to take the vaporetto over to Lido, then hop on a bus going towards Chioggia.  My beach isn't too far down from the main street (Granviale S. Maria Elisabetta), but a bit too far for a walk on a hot day. I wasn't entirely sure I was on the correct bus, so I asked a woman already on the bus if this was the right one if I wanted to go to the Consorzio beach.  This woman was elegant, typical Italian. Classy, everything perfect- perfect clothes, perfect jewelry, perfect makeup, perfect blond hair. She was Gina Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren-like. I asked the question, she politely responded "Yes".  I immediately nicknamed her "La Contessa".

Later that morning I noticed La Contessa was sitting on a towel not far from where I had set up my beach chair.  I wondered  what La Contessa's story was. My mind was inventing all sorts of glorious stories for her.

A few other times during the summer I noticed she was at the beach the same time I was, and always had her towel spread out near me.  After the beach closed for the season, I never saw La Contessa again, although it was clear she was Venetian.  I'm  always walking all over Venice but our paths didn't cross again. Until three days ago.

This week,  I've returned to the beach.  I'm a morning beach person. I love to get there early before the crowds so I have the beach to myself.  Monday morning I arrived at the beach later than I would have liked, around 10.  I found my way to our capanna, introduced myself to the few capanna-mates who were already in attendance, and went inside to drop off some things before heading down to the water with my chair.  Inside our capanna was...La Contessa!  We said hello to each other, after which she  commented, "Sei Americana."  (You are American).  It wasn't a question. My accent gives me away every day.  I recognized her, I doubt she recognized me.  I took my chair on down to the water.

 I was at the beach a bit earlier on Tuesday morning. La Contessa and I arrived about the same time. She laid her towel out. I set my chair up. We said "Buongiorno" to each other.  The few times I've seen La Contessa, I've noticed she has a routine. She lays the towel out, gets her stuff organized, ties a lovely sarong around her neck or waist, grabs her cigarettes then goes for a stroll down the beach walking at the waters edge.  A while later she returns, chats with several people, smokes another cigarette, then spends some time sitting on her towel. When she's smoking, the cigarette hangs from her mouth. Even with a cigarette dangling from her lips like truck driver,  she's classy.  What a dame!

Tuesday just before La Contessa left the beach she yelled over a "Buongiorno" to me.  I was flabbergasted to get noticed by her, and to have such a pleasantry extended. I waved and yelled "Buona giornata" in return.

On my way home I made plans to write a blog about La Contessa. In my mind I was imagining what her Venetian life was like, what old Venetian family she might be a descendant of.
Life took over on Tuesday, and I never got that blog written.

This morning as I made my way over to the Lido I was already plotting about a summer of blog posts, starting with the one about La Contessa.  I arrived a bit later than I had expected this morning because, with my head full of ideas, I completely missed the right boat over to the Lido!  I mistakenly ended up on a boat headed towards Murano instead.  When I finally got to the beach, La Contessa was already on her towel.  She and I have very similar beach habits. We are both there early before the crowds. We both leave somewhere between 11-12. That's probably the only similarity anyone could ever find between the pair of us.

I set my chair up, got myself situated, and just as I opened my book to read La Contessa yelled over a "Buongiorno".  I looked up. She was talking to me.  A Venetian talking to me is not normal in my world, so I tried not to look too stupified. She said something else, which I couldn't hear at all. She walked over to me and asked if I wanted to take a passeggiata (walk) with her? Si!!  Absolutely Si!

Hopefully my elation didn't make me look too much like a fool. I wanted to do a happy dance. I wanted to fist pump in the air. In my seven years in Venice, I have dreamed of even a little thing like a walk with a native.  It just doesn't happen.  There seems to be an imaginary line drawn between Venetians and everyone else.  It isn't just me who has experienced this.  But all these years I've wished for a little tiny local experience. And today it happened. La Contessa asked me.... ME... to take her daily passeggiata with her. Are you kidding me?  I wouldn't have missed this for the world.

As we started walking, I  apologized first for not speaking Italian well.  I explained that I study Italian, have been for several years, but still am not fluent. She just said "No, you are doing fine. "  She had loads of questions. Evidently she was as curious about me as I had been about her.  Where was I from in America? Why was I  in Venice?  and on and on and on.

Upon learning that my name is Karen, she decided she would just call me Karina- with a K. She has a granddaughter named Carina.  I'm good with that.  She liked, loved,  that I love Venice. She smiled a huge smile, telling me she's Venetian, it's in her blood, but we both love this city. We walked. She smoked, that cigarette dangling from her mouth the whole way. We talked. Then she invited me to stop for coffee with her. She introduced me to one of her favorite cafes along the beach. We kept talking. About the upcoming election for the new mayor. About Venice's problems. About our husbands and our children. About where we shop. About some of her favorite buildings in Venice. About our shared love for the beach early in the morning. She insists she will teach me Venetian over the summer. By the way, La Contessa doesn't speak English. I did this whole wacky wonderful Italian conversation with no English. This is EXACTLY what I have been working so hard for these last 8 months of studying and lessons.

We wandered back to our beach and took up our respective spots.  A bit later, La Contessa yelled over a "Buongiorno, Karina. A domani" as she packed up her towel.

I've dreamed of the possibility of an experience like this morning, but had given up dreaming that dream a few years ago. Today that dream came true.

I cannot wait to see what else awaits me this summer!

La Contessa has a name. Paola. She'll  remain La Contessa to me.

La Contessa

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Not quite all quiet on the southern front

Did you notice my title is a little take off on the famous "All Quiet on the Western Front" ?  I really wanted to use Western in my title too, however, I'm writing about events on the south lagoon here, so I had to do a slight modification.

The other day a friend of mine emailed me with a request to see more posts about my rowing adventures. It was perfect timing, cause we'd had a doozie of an experience just a day before!

Ever since the interim mayor passed a new law banning dragon boats from the Grand Canal, we've had to do all of our rowing in the south lagoon.  Before his brilliant move, we did a fair amount of our practices in the central part of Venice on the canals of the  Dorsoduro and San Polo districts, as well as the Grand Canal.  To get to the south lagoon, we have to cross the Giudecca Canal.  It's not fun.  This canal is used by all the big cruise ships, the car ferries going back and forth between Lido and Tronchetto, and all the bigger boats hauling tourists between Tronchetto and San Marco. The canal is full of boats going willy nilly, so lots of waves. Big ones. We're out there bobbing around like a cork! Trying to cut across this canal is not easy, it's always the worst part of our practices.

Once we get over to Giudecca, things get much easier. We do a quick row down a canal to cut through to the south lagoon. Once in the lagoon, we usually row out to either San Servolo or San Clemente islands, and then do lots of sprints between the bricole.  Bricole are the poles marking the channel (see photo below for an example).  Boats have to stay inside the channel markers where the water is deep enough. Outside of the channel markers the lagoon can be quite shallow.

Usually, rowing in the lagoon is a very peaceful, calming experience (unless it's sprint time, that is).  I have come to love being out on the lagoon. I've also come to love the rowing, itself. When I first started, I was terrible at it.  Now, the movement is second nature. I get in the boat and my arms seem to just know the position they are supposed to be in to properly hold the oar, and to keep in time with my team mates.  We're a well oiled machine, each in sync with the other.  And that is a beautiful thing. 

Friday, we had a moment that was not so beautiful.  We were rowing along nicely when out of no where, the lionesses at the front of the boat started screaming, and frantically rowing backwards. Those of us in the rear of the boat had no clue what was going on, but we sure felt the effects of it as the boat tipped to the right almost dumping us all into the water, and then it tipped even more to the opposite direction. I thought for sure we were going overboard. We all did. Nothing like this had ever happened before, I had no idea what was going on or why.  It took a few minutes to get settled, and we then saw what the problem was.  The two rowers in the first seat noticed two bricole that were rotted and broken off, only barely visible at the water level because of the height of the tides at the time. We almost hit them. If they hadn't seen them and back paddled quickly, we all would have been in the water. Fortunately, we all were wearing life vests.  I swim, so it wouldn't have been a problem, however there are a couple of lionesses who don't swim.  

Happily, most of our rows are non-eventful!

(The culprit!)

Today's row was without incident. We rowed completely around San Clemente island, a first for us. Usually we row to it, then turn around and row back. You can see from my photo below how clear the water is. It's quite shallow, I can touch the bottom of the lagoon with my paddle.

We were quite excited today, as this was the day our brand new salvagente arrived.  Salvagente- here's your new Italian vocabulary word for the day! Salvagente is what you call a life jacket or life preserver.  Salva gente - literally save people.  Here are the lionesses in them.  Wow, what a difference these make. Our other salvagente were quite bulky and uncomfortable. These new ones are cut very differently under the arms. Their design fits so much better, making rowing a lot easier. We are pretty happy lionesses. Simple pleasures!  And we probably needed those salvagente today. Crossing the Giudecca canal in both directions was trecherous.  Going across, we took on more water than we ever had before. We had to stop and bail out. I wasn't in the boat 5 minutes before a wave hit me and I was completely soaked from head to toe.  Our feet were covered with water by the time we hit the other side of the canal.  On the way back, a tour boat refused to give way to us, even though the "rules of the road" say all motorized boats must give way to any rowing boat.  The guy knew it, but wouldn't stop. We almost hit him. There was quite a bit of loud, nasty words exchanged between our helmsman and that driver.

After each row,  the dragon boat gets washed, dried, and stored in one of the old Salt warehouses at the Bucintoro boat club. Then I make my way to the vaporetto at La Salute.  The short walk to the vaporetto is absolutely joyful now that the weather has gotten warmer. The local  kids are out playing in the campo around the corner from the boat house. Today the boys had a game of soccer going on,

The girls were giving their sidewalk chalk a work out,

 and the priest was giving an outdoor mass for the rest of the kids.  It's a side of Venice  I just love to see.

And, around the last corner as I made my way to La Salute, today I was serenaded by these two  who were happily playing on this little dock over the canal.

So, there you have it. A bit of my rowing adventures. Not quite all quiet on the southern front, but still all good. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

New transportation woes in Venice

In recent months the local news has been filled with articles concerning Venice's increasing transportation difficulties, including more large cruise ships, vaporettos crowded with tourists, and even new limits on kayaks, canoes and dragon boats. Yes, even dragon boats, so I've been directly impacted by the new regulations our temporary mayor put in place mid-April. Fortunately, those stringent rules have been modified a bit, so soon we'll be rowing back on the Grand Canal.

The other day I witnessed yet another traffic issue. I thought surely this would make headline news the next morning.  Our interim mayor needs to get on this problem before it gets completely out of hand.

Double parking in Venice.   (It was in front of a toy store, I can totally understand the necessity.)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

My new transportation

I've surprised myself once again, I've gone and done something I didn't think I would ever do. 

I have been content to use my feet to get me from Point A to Point B -and sometimes C most days, supplementing with the vaporetto depending on where I need to get to. Until we moved to Sant'Elena, I rarely ever went over to the Lido. And if I did, I walked once I arrived there. 

This year I find myself on the Lido often. If I need to go to a grocery store, it's actually easier to do it there at the large Coop or the new Conad store (formerly Billa, which, for the record, I miss terribly).  I make it a weekly ritual on Tuesday mornings to go to the mercatino there, and now I've added on Friday mornings as well. Some of our new favorite restaurants are there.  And it won't be long before the beaches are open again for the season. 

Recently at lunch with some friends, who all live on the Lido, I was asked if I kept a bicycle there. No, I don't have one.  One of the women immediately suggested that she give me her old one, which was sitting in the garage now that she had a new one, and her husband was urging her to get rid of it. The only problem was it had a flat tire. I didn't think that was an issue, I was happy to figure out how to get the tire fixed.  I didn't even need to do that, she took it to her local bike shop for me! She'd warned me it was old, and had lots of rust. In my opinion that would be just perfect for the Lido and me! 

The next week we made arrangements for me to come over and pick it up from the bike shop. For 9 euros I had a brand new inner tube, filled with air, and a lovely set of new wheels for me.  
This baby has a bell, 2 baskets, a mirror, a light, a brand new seat, and a fender!  And it's blue, my favorite color even.  I have hit the lottery on this one! 

The bike came home to Sant'Elena so I could have Mike adjust the seat for me. 

I've purchased a brand new bike lock, I'm ready to take it back over to the Lido where it will take up residence in one of the several bike lots in and around the area by the vaporetto stop. My bike will fit right in with it's neighbors- old rusty beach bikes, just perfect for getting around when I want to explore the seawalls along Malamocco or make a trip to the mercatino, or pedal on down to the spiaggia ( beach).  The only thing I need to do is break a bottle of prosecco over the handle bars to christen it!

It's been years since I've biked much, I must admit I'm a bit leery, but with practice I am confident I'll be fine.  I'll be just like Miss Gulch in the Wizard of Oz , except I'll be sporting a huge smile. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Voga a Silenzio (Rowing in Silence)

The weather was gorgeous yesterday, just perfect for a late afternoon row.  I hadn't rowed in three weeks- some due to travel, some due to bad weather.  I was itching to get out on the water. And, more than just wanting to row, I needed to row. We're now in training for the Vogalonga, a 32 km row around the islands to be held on May 24.

At the last minute I received a message reminding me to show up at the boat house 30 minutes early, there was to be an emergency meeting. I had a hunch what this meeting was all about. One of our members had been in the hospital for the last week, and I suspected we were going to be told something about her status.

Even though we were all pretty sure there would be some bad news, I can assure you, we were not ready for the news we got.  It was the worst we could have imagined. This poor woman, who is fairly young to begin with- and remember she has already suffered through breast cancer-has just been diagnosed with one of the worst types of cancer you could have, and the prognosis is not good. Not good at all.   We're sitting in an enormous salt warehouse, centuries old, with no windows, and you could have heard a pin drop. There was a mix of silence, tears, sniffles and then the long wails of grief stricken friends, as the realization hit.

The meeting was called to a close, with a final word to treat the situation delicately, for the poor woman's sake who was having to process this herself, and- to go do our row.  Trust me, none of us were in a mood to row,  no matter how gorgeous the afternoon was.  I glanced around the room, taking in the faces of this group of women who now have come to mean the world to me. I don't think I've ever  been as  moved as I was yesterday witnessing this collective sadness.

Somehow, we mustered up the will to go out and row. We left the salt warehouse without words, hugging one another, giving support to those that were taking the news the hardest. Still without words, we loaded up into the boat.  The entire row was in silence, which is very out of character for this chatty bunch. Normally our helmsman spends a good bit of his time yelling " Silenzio". Yesterday, no commands were necessary.  We were all lost in our own thoughts as we rowed over the Giudecca Canal, through the narrow canals of Giudecca island, and out to the lagoon. For an hour and a half we rowed, almost as one, strokes in perfect synchronization, gliding silently through the water.

There is something very magical about being in the waters surrounding Venice, with no noise at all other than the sound of your paddle slicing the water. For a brief time, you are at one with the universe.

My thoughts were this:   I've received yet another confirmation that life is short. There are no guarantees on how many tomorrows's we'll have.  That's what made me move to Italy in the first place. This is what makes me know I'm in the right place, living a quiet, simple life, focusing on what is truely important at this time in my life. Days are not to be squandered, I need to make each one count.

And that's my message to you - make each day count.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Happy Birthday, Venice

Tanti Auguri (Best wishes), Venice!  1594 years ago, on March 25, 421, Venice was founded.  

The flag of Venice waves proudly with the winged lion, the symbol of Venice, in the center and six "ribbons" of fabric flying along side it, one ribbon representing each of the  six districts (sestiere) of Venice. 

One other little tidbit about Venice's founding- the first settlement was at Rialto, at Campo San Giacometto. It's said people chose this spot because of the higher banks here, and the name became "Rialto" for sort of short cut version of  "Rivo Alto" or high banks. 

Those two facts should help you out should you ever find yourself playing the Venice version of Trivial Pursuit. 


Friday, March 13, 2015

Postcard from Puglia

Ciao tutti!

We're in beautiful Alberobello, in the Puglia region of Italy, for the week.  Internet connection is sparse, so I'll take a minute while I can to just send a brief "Ciao" and a few photos.

Alberobello, located in  the heart of wine, olive oil and cheese production area of Puglia, is known for the unusual stone homes, called " trulli".

Wanting to "experience" this quaint location, we rented a trullo for the week.  Despite rain and cold for most of the week, we've been out exploring every day. Loving Alberobello !

A presto,

Saturday, February 21, 2015

There's a new kid in town

 Just a quick note on what you can expect to see (and not see) after this weekend.

50 Billa grocery stores  had been purchased by Conad, another Italian retail store, and the switch-over is scheduled to be completed over the weekend, with stores reopening on Monday, February 23, under the new name.

There's been no word at all as to whether all of the Billa stores in the area are included in this group of 50, and no word on whether Conad will have the same hours as Billa.  (I hope so!) Monday morning when I discover more, I'll update this post.  Just about the only information has been these big posters in the vaporetto stops, and a sign in the Billa stores announcing that you need to use up any store points you have before the change over occurs.

So- if you are returning to Venice anytime in the near future after having been away for some time, be prepared to be greeted by the new kid in town: Conad.

A Venetian traffic stop

Yesterday, while rowing down the Grand Canal in our dragon boat, we were pulled over by the local police.  Yes, you read that right. The Lionesses were pulled over, just before reaching the Rialto Bridge. I'll get to all the gory details in a sec.

Before last summer, any sightings of police on any canals was  rare, very rare.  Now, since a very tragic boating accident in which a German tourist lost his life, there are new regulations and a greater police presence. These regulations, on both speed and when and where certain types of boats can be on the Grand Canal, are directed towards delivery boats, water taxis, vaporettos and gondolas.   However, a  week ago the city has issued yet another boating regulation, a  ban on small rowing/paddle boats in the Grand Canal as well as several smaller canals in the city.  Effective March 1, no dragon boats, kayaks, canoes or paddle boats will be allowed on any of  the named canals. Niente. Nada. None. Basta. 

There was a meeting this past Monday between the city and one of the boating associations to request  the  ruling be rescinded. The result:  nothing will be changed. 

This map  shows all the routes included in the ban ( canals  marked in red and pink).  This also  limits the ability to row from one area of the city to the other, without rowing out in open waters. This gives the ban an even bigger sting, and it's going to be a tough pill to swallow for small paddlers like us.

And so, with March 1 just around the corner,  we Lionesses have only a few more days to enjoy our practice/exercise rows out on our beloved Grand Canal. There is something magical about being out there in a small boat. It's an entirely different experience, one I have a tough time putting into words.  I feel almost a part of the water, instead of a spectator looking down at it. Magical. Just magical.  

 We expected to be rowing on Wednesday, however at the last minute high winds curtailed our exercise plans. Yesterday the day began with thick fog.  We fully expected our row to be cancelled yet again. With luck, the fog lifted by mid afternoon. Almost gleefully, we put the boat into the water, loaded up and turned expectantly to our timoniere (helmsman), Francesco, wondering what he had planned for the day.  He grinned, "The Grand Canal, of course!"

We're rowing along, silently for a change (usually the lionesses are chatterboxes, requiring Francesco to be yelling "Silenzio!").  I think each of us were a bit lost in our own thoughts, savoring every moment of what will be one of our last rows in this magnificent canal. 

As we approach Rialto, we notice a the team of policemen in their new post alongside the canal are waving us over. We look around, thinking they must surely mean another boat behind us.  No, they mean us. Francesco complies, maneuvering the dragon boat alongside the pier.  The policeman bends down to speak to us all,  explaining calmly that there is a new law in place effective March 1, after which dragon boats are banned from certain canals, including the Grand Canal.  If we were found rowing after March 1, we will be fined.  Aha. He'd  pulled us over to give us a traffic warning. 

What ensued next should  have been enough to cause that policeman to run for the hills, and refuse that duty post in the future.  He should have known better, should have left well enough alone and let this group of Venetian women just keep on rowing, but no, he had to place nice cop and pull us over to issue a warning.  Everyone in the boat, with the exception of Francesco and myself, started yelling at the top of their lungs all at the same time. This is what Venetian women do, of course.  Me, I know better.  I'm an American by blood, and we Americans know to keep our mouth shut when a policeman pulls you over. "Yes, Sir, here's my drivers license and registration, what seems to be the problem, Sir? ".  That's how we're trained to handle any police interaction. These Venetians?? Oh, no. 

Here's how this situation went down. These women (most of them over 60), lashed into this young man like he was their son. I bet they would have smacked him alongside the head if we weren't so far down in the boat. Several of them were trying to stand up waving their hands as they yelled, but realized the boat was wobbling, so sat back down again. Thank God!

The yelling continued and continued. I heard a raft of stuff:   We want this law changed. Can you get it straightened out? It's not fair. We're Venetians, we should be able to row in the Grand Canal. This is shit. We're going to protest at City Hall. No, we're going to STORM City Hall!!   (And this is just the calm stuff). Just imagine a bunch of irate ladies going for the jugular vein. I think they expected that cop would grant them special dispensation right there on the spot.  

With what little shreds of dignity he had left, he tried to explain he was only delivering the message, making sure they all were aware of the law, and sadly, there was nothing he could do to change it.  "Bye ladies, have a nice day." 

We pushed off, continuing our row, but the lionesses were not very silent. Francesco was smart in not giving the "Silenzio" command at that point in time.

Me?  Yes, I was silent. I wasn't about to mouth off to any cop. I quietly observed the whole event, getting yet another lesson in just how differently life happens over here. 

Ohhh, the girls were hot under the collar after that.  They proceeded to yell at the next gondolier who passed, telling him all about the cop pulling them over and how unfair the whole new law thing is. Fortunately, for him, he agreed with them. He would have been taking his life into his own hands if he hadn't!

So what happens with this ban next?  There is a petition floating around locally and on Facebook, I hear there will be a protest at city hall schduled soon. In the meantime, I'm hopefully for two more days of rowing on the Grand Canal before the dreaded deadline, if the weather gods are kind to us on Wednesday and Friday. And praying for no more alterations with the local police.