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

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Half Way Point

Ciao, tutti!

Many, many thanks for the lovely comments I've received here on the blog, via emails and FB comments regarding this 10 day Blog Challenge.  I know it's a bit different, not Venice related, and I truly appreciate you hanging in here with me.  I need to get refocused, back on track, and this is going to help me get there, to get me back into the habit of writing regularly and making more frequent posts on the blog as well.

This blog post is in response to Natalie Sisson's 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 5. The task for the day is to come up with a daily plan that I will put into place and use every day to help move me towards meeting my goals.

I need to work every day to complete tasks to get our new blog ready to launch and also write content to post on the new blog, and then keep it up regularly going forward. You all know from experience with me on this blog that I get into periods where I am not writing at all, even though I may be doing cool things that are worthy of writing about. I let life get in my way and have gotten out of the habit of writing every day.

Natalie describes a time management activity called the Pomodoro technique (after the timer used to keep track of time which is in the shape of a bright red tomato- thus Pomodoro) which is useful to keep you focused and on task.  You break your work up into small manageable chunks of time, 25 minute increments. You work for 25 minutes straight with no distractions, then give yourself a short break. After the break, you return for another 25 minute block of work. You can continue this several times in succession. I like the way this works. It seems like a workable plan for me, so I've decided to put the Pomodoro plan into action.

My plan to implement this strategy has to begin on Monday, as I already have plans to be out of town for a long weekend beginning early Friday morning. I'm taking the 3 days off- no work for me. The new plan commences Monday. I'm going to commit to three 25 minute work segments each day. I tend to write better in the evenings than in the mornings, so I'll set aside time between 8-10 pm. If I'm diligent about keeping to this work schedule, I should meet my initial goal of launching the blog , and help me stick to to a schedule to add content regularly.

I know I've been talking a lot about this new blog I'm focusing on. While I've been putting my energies in that direction, I have also spent time planning content for The Venice Experience. I've given up the thought of giving this space a visual overhaul, that's just too much on my plate for now, however there is always lots to write about going on here in Venice, and I will be doing that. Definitely NOT abandoning this. It's been my baby since July of 2007.  The Venice Experience will be 10 years old in 2017.  I feel a big birthday bash coming on!

Ok, Blog Challenge #5 is officially completed. And I'm halfway through the 10 days. That's an accomplishment in and of itself. Taking the rest of the night off!


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Buon compleanno, Mom

Today we're celebrating my mother's 89th birthday. She lives at the New Jersey shore, and she (knock  on wood) is healthy as a horse. We're hoping we're still doing birthday celebrations for her when she turns 100.  Happy Birthday, Mom!!

This blog post is in response to Natalie Sisson's 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 4.  My challenge today is to identify 2-3 things I am good at, things Natalie calls my "Super Powers".  She says not to be humble about it.

I had to really struggle with this one. My first thought was to just chuck the whole thing. I don't have super powers. I don't even have any sort-of powers, let alone super ones.  I got the challenge email this morning, while I was at the beach, enjoying my last day of the season.  As I mulled over today's assignment, I was reminded of one of my Cabana-mates, Luca.  (Everyone rents a cabana for the season. I share one with about 18 other people). I promise this is all going somewhere. Just give me a minute.

 Luca is the 4 yr old son of one of the 18.  One morning as I was just arriving at our cabana, Luca and his family had already arrived. We said our hellos, and I went inside to change and gather up my stuff.  On my way out of the cabana, Luca stopped me. He opened his little mouth and started singing a song at the top of his lungs. His mother explained he was singing me a favorite song he had learned at his nursery school. She went on to further explain that he went to a Catholic school, thus all the references to God in the song, just in case I needed that information.  At the end of his song, he stood there with the biggest smile on his face.  Squeaky little 4 yr old voice and all, he stood and belted out that song for me, and then asked me to please wait one minute, he had something to show me. He ran into the cabana. One minute later he reappeared, dressed from head to toe in a Spiderman suit. It isn't Halloween. It's August. And Luca has transformed into "Speeder-Maan" (the correct pronunciation if you are speaking Italian).

These little huts are cabanas

Now back to my task for today's Blog Challenge.  Luca actually believed he was Spiderman. Once in that costume, he wasn't just little Luca anymore. He was a superhero.

I'm thinking I need a costume. If it works for Luca, maybe it will work for me.

I've tossed this around all day. Honestly, I don't possess any super powers. I have a couple of things I'm pretty good at, but I'm not setting the world on fire over here.

So here's what I'm good at. 1) I'm a good teacher, and 2) I'm not a quitter.

Now I better go make myself a costume.


Monday, September 12, 2016

A Perfect Day

Ciao, tutti!

This blog post is in response to Natalie Sisson's 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 3

Have you been keeping up with my Blog Challenge I've gotten myself into ? Each day I receive an email describing the challenge of the day.

Day 1 we had to write about our 2 or 3 biggest roadblocks that prevent us from living our ideal life.
Day 2's task was to figure out our why. Why did we want to live a free-er lifestyle.

I received today's assignment earlier this morning, and I've been pondering it all day. See- I did admit to being the Queen of Procrastination. This one should have been easy, and yet I've put it off until now.  It's 10:24 pm and I can't put it off anymore.

The challenge for Day 3 is to describe my perfect day- from waking up to going to bed.  What am I doing, what does it look, feel, smell. Really, I got this.

Ok, here goes.
My morning always starts with a cup of hot tea. Decaf, black tea. In a mug  handmade by a local potter. The mug is a blue color that reminds me of the sea.

I'm not a real early riser. 7:30 is my usual time to start the day. However, in my perfect day (yes, I'm tweaking a bit here), I'd be up and out of the house earlier. 6:30 maybe.

I take a walk on the beach, carrying the mug of tea with me.

I once owned a beach house that had a fantastic outdoor shower. I'd love to have that shower every morning.

Upon returning from my walk and shower, I make a nice late breakfast for Mike and myself. Fruit- my favorites are pineapple, melon or berries, and an omelet with cheese and fresh tomatoes or peppers, fresh squeezed orange juice and more tea. Coffee for him.

Most of the rest of the day is spent writing. In my perfect day I'd be working on that book I've started but haven't finished. And I'd be doing that writing in a spot I love to be in. Something that looks like the photo below. I'd be on that veranda, overlooking the sea.

I love the sounds of the sea. The water lapping, the fresh smell of the ocean water, the rustle of the sea breezes. It calms me, helps keep me grounded.

The evening meal would be some seafood, perhaps shrimp and clams.  And ice cream for dessert. There would be some Frank Sinatra music playing somewhere, and candles on the veranda.

That would be a perfect day for me.

Since you're reading along with my daily blog challenges, I'm thinking it would be fun for you to join right in with me. Go ahead. What would your perfect day look like?  Share it in the comments for me, please.


Can't wait to see what Day 4 will bring.

PS- While I did not make as much progress with the new blog as I had planned today, I did get some work done on it.  After several hours of researching and demo-ing, I narrowed a theme down to two choices. Tomorrow I need to make a decision, get the theme (whichever it is) installed, and get at least some of the pages created.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Living La Dolce Vita- that's why

It's Day 2 of the 10-day blog challenge, and today's task is to write about WHY.   Why is it we want to live our ideal lifestyle, whatever that may be.

This blog post is in response to Natalie Sisson's 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 2 

This one is easy for me. I get asked that same question almost every day. Why did we want to give up our lives in the US to move to Italy? And I don't have to hesitate about my response. I remember having to do a great deal of soul-searching 10 years ago when we were planning our new life on the other side of the Atlantic.  Then, and now, the WHY is the same.

We'd made several month-long vacations in Italy, most of them here in Venice. Upon re-entry to our normal lives, we always found ourselves missing the slower lifestyle of the Italian culture. We felt trapped by our careers, by our American lifestyle of working practically non-stop.  We were slaves to the American way of living, which we began to see as a culture of greed. We strived for bigger and better, more stuff. And the more "stuff" you had, the more you had to work to support it.  It Italy, we saw people exist with much less, but seemed to be much happier in their smaller existence. We envied that happiness, that joyful spirit we witnessed in Italy.

Rather than be envious of that lifestyle, we chose to adopt it. What was previously important to us- advancing in our careers, earning more money, having more, just wasn't making us happy anymore. And why would we want to spend our days being unhappy? It didn't make sense to us anymore. What became much more important was living simpler, living healthier, living stress-free.

We had to make some tough decisions about getting rid of cars, houses, stuff and learn to live with much less. Doing away with all that stuff was a burden lifted off our shoulders. It was liberating. It gave us our life back.

And so the Why is something I have no trouble answering. To live "la dolce vita". The sweet life.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Turning summer dreams into reality

Ciao, tutti!

Summer is winding down, and I'm not particularly happy about it at all. I have just 4 more days to enjoy my mornings at the beach. During the months of August and September I've been able to spend most mornings over on the Lido enjoying some sun, sand and surf. Time to just do nothing, relax, read, swim, think, dream.  Zen time. I needed it.

BTW- the photo above is the view from my beach chair each morning. 

For some time now I've been wanting to write about our travels more, but I couldn't bring myself to. This blog has always been about Venice, and I haven't wanted to change that. Mike and I have had incredible trips since we've been living in Italy,  but I haven't been sharing any of that. 

My morning beach time has given me the opportunity to do some dreaming about how to make that happen. It's time for me to turn that dream into a reality. The other day I received an email inviting me to participate in a blog challenge program designed to help you find the path to the lifestyle you wish to live. It seemed like exactly what I needed at just the right time. I signed up. 

And so, this blog post is in response to Natalie's 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 1. The challenge for today is to write about 2 or 3 challenges that keep you from obtaining your goals. My list exceeded 3, but for the sake of keeping you poor readers from running for the hills, I'm going to stop at 2. 

#1  - I am the Queen of Procrastination. I'll find every excuse in the book to waste time. And my best excuse is always "It's nap time!"  If I didn't just twitter (NO- not that kind of Twitter) away a good portion of every day I can't even imagine the things I could accomplish. I want to create a new blog just for travel writing, and that is going to take work on my part. I need to buckle down and just do it. 

#2 - I second guess myself all the time, and end up convincing myself that I can't do things I want to. That I'm not good enough.  I don't want to talk myself out of giving travel writing/blogging every bit of energy so that I do it, and do it well. 

Whew. I got that down on paper.  I've completed the challenge for today. To think about and write down the challenges that keep me from accomplishing my goals. It's a bit intimidating to bare my flaws in front of you. Please don't think too poorly of me! (I'm not too thrilled with myself as I read what I've written.)

Today I also tackled another task that I've been sitting on for the last few weeks. I actually have made a little bit of progress on the new blog.  I had started one, attempted to learn the dreaded WordPress, hit my head against the wall a few times with it, and left the blog sitting in it's infancy state.  To get the features I wanted I was going to have to move the blog to a self-hosting site. That got done today!  I'm one small step closer to getting this new blog up and running.  With some luck, and more than a little hard work, www.HendersonsOnTheRoad.com will be launched in the coming weeks. I'll plan a kick-off party.   

In the meantime, I've got 9 more days to this exciting 10 day Blog Challenge to get through, and a WordPress class to complete! 

Can't wait to see what tomorrow's challenge assignment will be. Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Terremoto in Central Italy

I am sure, by now, you have seen the recent news regarding the terrible earthquake that hit the hill towns of Amatrice, Accumoli, Pescara del Tronto and Arquata del Tronto.

This was the third earthquake we've felt since we've lived in Italy, and we've been hundreds of miles from the epicenter each time. I can tell you, the shaking is scary. I can't even imagine what it would be like to be right in the middle of it. 

At around 3:35 am on Wednesday morning we felt the bed move. It moved. Side to side.  We both said, "What was that?"  On occasion, when a large ship passes by our apartment, we feel some vibrations. We're that close to the water and we're talking large cruise ships. This wasn't that kind of vibration. And because we'd felt the shakes of two previous earthquakes, the last one being the large one in Aquila in April of 2009, we already knew what we were experiencing. 

Mike grabbed the flashlight on the night table, focusing the beam on the chandelier above us. It was swinging in an arc of about 10 inches in each direction. That's some pretty good movement. Fortunately, it is not centered over our bed, or I would have been running! It's an old Murano glass chandelier, a bit over 3 feet in height, constructed of quite heavy glass. And it was swinging merrily above us. We both said "Earthquake" at the same moment. 

The Murano glass chandelier in our bedroom

We didn't panic, we could tell the epicenter was far enough from us. After a couple of minutes, the chandelier settled down. 

I then picked up my phone and checked Facebook. Sure enough, a friend in Cannaregio had posted she felt it also.  I have no idea how I would function without Facebook. Can you imagine, an earthquake of 6.2 magnitude hits, and the first thing I do is check Facebook. What is wrong with me?  

 Shortly after the news feeds reported the location and severity.  We went back to sleep. 

As the morning hours ticked by, the news reports worsened. The numbers crept up. The photos were frightening. I couldn't stop looking at  the news, even though I didn't want to watch.

Amatrice, Italy - photo www.telegraph.co.uk

Weird that the town clock stopped ticking, frozen in time, at 3:36 am.  Weird, also,  that this earthquake happened at the same time of day, within minutes, of the one that hit Aquila a few years earlier.  More sad than weird is that Amatrice was preparing for it's big Festa coming up this weekend, the Sagra dell' Amatriciana, the famous spaghetti dish named after this hilltown. Tourists were already in town for the event.

Last night in my English lesson with my student Francesco we discussed the earthquake. He had just returned to Venice 2 days ago after having been on vacation in the same region. Talk about luck. He'd have been right smack in the middle of the earthquake. Much of our lesson was spent fixing his pronunciation of the word. By the end of the hour, he'd moved from "Hearth-quick" to a much better "earthquake".  I hadn't planned for this to be the topic of our lesson. Funny how things just happen. 

I returned home thinking how lucky we all are. We're still here. Our homes are intact. In the blink of an eye, 200 plus people have lost their lives, and thousands are in makeshift tents wondering what happens next.  And this is just another reminder of how precious life is. My mantra over the last nearly 10 years has been this:  Tomorrow isn't guaranteed. All I know for sure is that I have this moment, and it is up to me to make the best of it. 

If there is a lesson for us out of disasters like this, I think it's this.  Make the most of each day. We don't know if we will have tomorrow. Leave with no regrets. And, love. Love well. Tell the people you love that you love them. 

In Italian, I would tell you all " Ti voglio bene".  Used for family and  close acquaintances, this is a step down from the full blown  I love you, "Ti amo". 

In honor of the people of Amatrice, we're making their signature dish this week. We're using Mario Batali's recipe ( http://www.mariobatali.com/recipes/bucatini-allamatriciana/)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces thinly sliced guanciale pancetta, or good bacon
1 red onion, cut lengthwise in half and then into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
2 cups Basic Tomato Sauce
1 pound Bucatini
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, and add 2 tablespoons salt.

Meanwhile, in a 10- to 12-inch saute pan, combine the olive oil, guanciale, onion, garlic, and re pepper flakes; set over low heat and cook until the onion is softened and the guanciale has rendered much of its fat, about 12 minutes.
Drain all but 1/4 cup of the fat out of the pan (and set aside to cook you eggs for tomorrow's breakfast). Add the tomato sauce, turn up the heat, and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and allow to bubble for 6 to 7 minutes.

While the sauce simmers, cook the bucatini in the boiling water for about a minute less than the package directions, until still very firm; drain.

Add the pasta to the simmering sauce and toss for about 1 minute to coat. Divide the pasta among four heated bowls and serve immediately, topped with freshly grated pecorino.

Spaghetti all'Amatriciana, photo courtesy lucasardellaejanira.it

During the coming days and months, the people of Amatrice and the surrounding towns affected will need support. The Florentine, a local newspaper in Florence, has compiled an excellent list of  ways we can help, including everything from donating blood to attending events which are making matching donations.  Here's the link. 


Ti Voglio bene.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

What a difference a year makes!

Ciao, tutti!

I'm thinking I need to dedicate this blog to my Italian teacher, Francesca, who works with me tirelessly every week.  

One year ago, I had a conversation on the beach at Lido with the woman I have nicknamed La Contessa. Looking back on that conversation I am mighty embarrassed, because my ability to get a decent conversation out of my mouth was nearly non-existent. I was talking Italian baby talk!

Flash forward to this morning.  

My morning ritual on days when I get to the beach is to set up my chair, spend a few hours enjoying the sun and surf relaxing, then pack up to head home. On my way off the beach I stop for a coffee at the bar at our beach. 

Today, I reversed my routine, stopping first for that coffee.  I carried my cup to my usual table and discovered La Contessa and a group of friends were also having coffee at the next table. I hadn't been there in a few weeks due to a nasty cold, so hadn't seen La Contessa since the last visit. She introduced me to her friends, and we proceeded to get into a lively conversation about a variety of topics. 

Just thinking about the range of topics has me laughing still now, hours after having come back from the beach. La Contessa had recently read a book in Italian called A Brief History of America, or something like that, in which she learned about the settlement at Jamestown, and the war of 1812, and the Civil War. She commented that of all the American presidents, she likes Lincoln. So we talked about Lincoln. And Jamestown. Jamestown, of all things!

The Lido coffee bunch had an assortment of questions for me. Tops on the list, of course, were all things Trump. Seems I can not avoid that topic anywhere these days, although I would love to. I got asked about food in New Orleans, the weather in Seattle, and the mafia in New Jersey.  Cracks me up.

But what amazes me even more than the choice of topics is that I am holding my own in these conversations this year. Not bumbling, but actually getting  information shared, thoughts conveyed, opinions expressed.

Language-wise, it's a whole different year. Karen is happy.

 So, thanks Francesca, for tolerating me, pushing me, encouraging me and never giving up on me.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A secret spot in Campo San Giovanni e Paolo

Buongiorno, tutti!

For the last four months, my Wednesday routine includes trotting off to Cannaregio for a 6pm English lesson. My student, Francesco, is a lovely Venetian man who is fairly competent with the English language, however doesn't have much opportunity to keep up with speaking it. Thus, the weekly conversations. We talk for most of the time, spending the other portion reading an excerpt from a newspaper or magazine. Recently, upon suggesting he read a book, he jumped up and pulled a book from his book shelf.  This book:

Venice Ghost stories Alberto Toso Fei The Venice Experience blog

I love this book. In fact, I love all of Alberto Toso Fei's books. If you are a lover of Venice you probably have already discovered his many fascinating books with stories of unique spots and happenings in a Venice of an older time. At any rate, Francesco had never opened the book before. So together we cracked it open,  I selected a short excerpt and he began to read. 

The problem with this book for Francesco is that it is originally written in Italian which has been translated into English.  It's a complicated read because the sentence structure is Italian. What he needs is a book written in English, not translated into it.  But more on that a bit later. 

The story we read describes something that happened in Campo San Giovanni e Paolo, on the northern end of the Castello district.  Francesco, who has Venetian grandparents and has lived in the city as an adult for more than 20 years and also spent much of his childhood here visting his family, did not know this story.  I had read the book years ago so was familiar with the story.  I'm in Campo San Giovanni e Paolo often, but it's been ages since I went to actually look at the site of this particular episode Alberto Toso Fei describes. The other day as I walked through the campo, I took time to search more carefully.  

Campo San Giovanni e Paolo wall sign The Venice Experience blog
Campo San Giovanni e Paolo The Venice Experience blog
Campo San Giovani e Paolo
  Campo San Giovanni e Paolo, named after the Saints John and Paul, is one of the largest and most important campos (neighborhood squares) in the sestiere (district, in Venetian dialect) of Castello.  It's a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. Tour groups flock to this campo to see the famous statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni, the church of San Giovanni e Paolo, and the magnificent Scuola Grande di San Marco.   The campo is also known as Zanipoli, in dialect for Giovanni e Paolo

Church of San Giovanni e Paolo The Venice Experience blog
Church of San Giovanni e Paolo, built in the 1300s
Since the end of the 1500s the funerals of all Doges took place in this church, and inside you will find the tombs of twenty-five Doges. One of Venice's most historic and impressive churches.

Bartolomeo Colleoni statue The Venice Experience blog
Statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni

Alongside the church you will find the Scuola Grande di San Marco, with it's exquisite marble facade. And it's this building that figures into the  subject of the story.  But before I go on with that, look carefully at the following photos that show some of the detailed carvings decorating the front of the building. 

Scuola Grande di San Marco The Venice Experience blog
Scuola Grande di San Marco, Castello

lion on the front of Scuola Grande di San Marco

close up of a lion on Scuola Grande di San Marco

And here's where the story begins.  The Scuola had been restored in 1495 after having been nearly totally destroyed by a fire. Cespo Pizzigani, a very talented Venetian stonecutter, worked on the designs on the front of the building and became quite famous for his work here.  In 1501, Cespo's wife fell ill. He used all of his resources to find ways to save her but in spite of this she died. In ruins, Cespo ended up spending his days begging at the foot of the bridge on the corner of the Scuola.  

Often, to amuse himself, he'd take a nail and scratch etchings into the marble on the side of the building, mostly of ships that were docked along the canal side. 

One of Cespo Pizzigani's etchings on the Scuola doorway

One night, as Cespo was at the Scuola he witnessed a horrible event.   An angry young man visited his mother who lived near the campo, gets into an altercation, stabs her and rips her heart out, then drops it as he runs away with it in his hand. 
He ran screaming into the canal and drowned.

Rumor has it you can still hear his desperate screams in the campo as he searches for his mothers heart.

Cespo Pizzigani,the stonecutter,  who was sitting in the shadows by the Scuola doorway, made a sketch of the event he witnessed that night.

Look closely. You'll see a man in a turban, holding a heart shaped object in his hand. This etching is on the doorway as you enter the main door of the Scuola Grande di San Marco.

Over the years I've enjoyed tracking down many of these little obscure yet fascinating stories from Venice's past. They make this city come alive for me.

Now back to my student, Francesco. We read a few stories from Fei's book. Fun for me because in addition to helping him with his English, these stories were new to Francesco.  Unfortunately, the language of the book in the English translation is difficult.  So we put that book aside.

I've taken him a copy of a Donna Leon book! Written in English by a native American English speaker, Donna Leon writes mysteries set in Venice.  I'll get Francesco learning about this city yet!

*Story of the man with the heart from Alberto Toso Fei's Venetian Legends and Ghost Stories, A guide to places of mystery in Venice.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Festa del Redentore- 2016

Ciao, tutti!

It's summer, it's hot, and it's festa time. We've had the Festa di San Antonio at San Francesco della Vigna, followed by the Festa di San Pietro at San Pietro di Castello, and coming up this week is the Festa di Beneficenza at the Church of San Giacomo dell'Orio. All big deals every summer, and if you are here in Venice, these are events not to be missed. But... the best of the best is coming up this weekend, Festa del Redentore, otherwise more commonly referred to as simply Redentore.

What's Redentore?

Festa del Redentore 2016 Venice fireworks
Redentore fireworks!

Redentore is a hugely important event for all Venetians.  It's a weekend-long festival that has been held each year since the Church of the Redentore was opened after the horrible plague of 1576.   Remembering the end of the plague when over 50,000 Venetians lost their lives, Venetians make a pilgrimage over a special bridge crossing the Giudecca canal to attend mass. In the early years, they crossed the canal over boats that were lashed together. In modern times,  city engineers construct a temporary pontoon bridge thousands walk across during the weekend. And today, Redentore is the biggest party in town.

Festa del Redentore Venice Redentore church
Crossing the Giudecca canal on the special pontoon bridge

The temporary bridge is floated down the canal in sections about a week before the event begins, and during the week it is placed into position. The other day as I was passing by on the vaporetto I could see portions of the bridge being worked on already.

Festa del Redentore Redentore church Venice
Beginning the Redentore pontoon bridge construction

It's not only the bridge construction that has started early. It seems everyone is abuzz over Redentore. Where are you eating, who are you eating with, what are you bringing? The anticipation for Saturday night's events is running high.  In addition to going to mass at Redentore on that Saturday evening, it's also a tradition that you eat your dinner canal side with family and friends while you wait for the midnight fireworks to begin. Every conceivable square centimeter of land on both sides of the Giudecca and from St. Mark's all the way down to my neighborhood in Sant'Elena are occupied by tables full of Venetians eating, drinking and celebrating.

Reservations required

Yesterday I noticed the first of the reserved spots in place along the Fondamenta by Via Garibaldi.  
You can make reservations ($$$) for a place on a big party boat to drink and dance all night  out in the lagoon to watch the fireworks . You can make a reservation ($$) at many of the rooftop bars for a good viewing post (Hilton, Danieli, Gritti Palace for example).  Or, you can do what the locals do and take your duct tape or masking tape down to the fondamenta and stake out your own space. Reservation = free!  

Festa del Redentore Venice 2016 Fireworks
The masking tape reservation 

Festa del Redentore Venice Fireworks
Choice location near the waterfront reserved!

By Thursday night there won't be any space left that hasn't been put on hold using the tape method. My student Francesco described how he and his friends handle reserving their spot. They go out on Thursday to mark the location. All day Saturday they take 1 hr shifts standing guard to ensure no one else rips up their tape to take the spot over for themselves.  Sorry, I just can't imagine doing guard duty on my Redentore space. But, you gotta do what you gotta do,  I suppose.

This year once again Mike and I will be joining several Lioness families canal side near Via Garibaldi. We're honored and overjoyed to be included. The eating will commence around 7 pm, with course after course after course of delicious local specialties such as stuffed duck breast, sarde and soar (sardines marinated in onions), bovoletti ( tiny snails),  and grilled orata to name just a few. Eating wraps up just about the time the fireworks start, and we're almost too stuffed to waddle back home afterward.

What am I bringing?  Watermelon (anguria) and a cake.

Have you been to Redentore ?  I know summer is a very crowded time here in Venice, but if you have not had the opportunity to experience Redentore, it's worth putting on your list. It's the best fireworks I've ever seen in my life. Italians do several things really well, and fireworks are one of them.

Redentore - right from your own home

You too can enjoy the spectacular Redentore fireworks right along with all of us on Saturday night. Remember, they will begin at midnight, Venice time.

Click here to view live webcam St. Mark's waterfront

P.S.  You might also want to check out my blog "How to enjoy Redentore like a local" for some great insider tips. This blog contains one of my favorite  photos of Redentore from back in the days when the boats were used to cross the canal. Don't miss that one!
Click here to read.

Happy Festa del Redentore, amici!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Venice from inside the boat

Ciao, tutti!

I've very excited to share some of my latest adventures with you.  

Recently I received a GoPro camera as an early birthday gift from a group of fabulous friends so I could record some of my rowing experiences. 

Last week I strapped the camera to my head, got in the boat and went out for the first live test run. 

I filmed our entire exercise session, from getting into the boat to pulling it up out of the water.  The video clips are unedited.(It was my first attempt at this. Just getting them up into YouTube was a learning curve)  But I thought you might enjoy seeing Venice from my perspective in the dragon boat on last Wednesdays row. 

There are 6 clips- with each of the first 5 lasting 12 minutes and the last 5 minutes. Grab a paddle and come on along with me. Or, if you prefer, grab a glass of prosecco instead, and enjoy a bit of Venice with me. 

                                                                           Part 1

Part 2

Part 3 

                                                                            Part 4

Part 5

                                                                        Part 6

Hope you enjoyed this as much as I've enjoyed sharing it with you.

P.S. If anyone has any GoPro tips or tricks, this novice would love to hear them.