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

Sunday, October 9, 2011

New Vaporetto line numbers

Recently, ACTV announced a renumbering of several vaporetto lines, effective November 2, 2011.  Here's a handy chart to help make the transition. I can't even imagine what kind of havoc this is going to cause with all the maps of Venice having the old numbering system on them. I still see maps with Line 82 (changed to number 2 several years ago) on them. All very confusing for tourists, I'm sure.

Everything looks pretty easy enough, except for whatever they did to the LN line. It's now 10, 12, 14 and 14L ??

 It will be lots of fun for awhile. I'd better print this chart out!  

A little adventure in Campo San Barnaba

Yesterday on my way home, I discovered a little flea market  going on in Campo San Barnaba.  There were several tables of "stuff" laid out in the square, manned by three white/grey haired Italian men, most likely Venetian, of course!  During my days in the USA, I was always drawn to antique shops and flea markets. For years I drove a Jeep SUV big enough to handle any spur-of-the-moment purchases I couldn't resist bringing home. Now that I am in Venice, carless, those spontaneous acquisitions aren't possible.  A) I don't own a car anymore, B) we live in a rented, furnished apartment, and C), even if I did find something to buy, I'd have to get it hauled home somehow.  Option C hasn't been such a big problem for me, as everything I have ever looked at in flea-market stalls in Venice has been incredibly expensive. That's Venice.

Mike has been wanting a small bookcase for the office/study/spare room.   We've looked at Ikea, but honestly Ikea is not our style of furniture. We've looked around locally, but the few things we've seen both old and new have been too expensive for what we need. Until yesterday. At this flea market, I found a nice little bookcase. Upon closer inspection, it was just the right proportions for the space we needed. In addition,  both the color of the wood and style would go perfectly.  I didn't notice any price tag, so I called over one of the little old men and asked "Quanto costo?  (how much?).  "Trenta", he says. Not believing what I heard, I asked,   "Trenta?????" (30) Oh my God, this is Venice- I was expecting three hundred euros would be the answer.   He laughs and says, in Italian, of course, "50 is good too, you want 50?"   "No, Trenta is fine", and pulled out my wallet before he changed his mind. I now owned a little bookcase.

I called Mike to come bring our little dolly and bungee cords down to the campo.   As I waited for his arrival, I had a lovely conversation in Italian with two of these guys.  We talked, as best I could in my still not fluent Italian. When Mike arrived, we loaded our new bookcase up, and began to wheel out of Campo San Barnaba. One of the little old men yelled to me, "I'll be here until Tuesday!". I might just have to return!

Almost Venetian

Usually I leave my hairdresser Simone's place feeling pretty good, cause he can make my unruly hair do remarkable things- but this week, I left with a big grin on my face. Simone always takes the time to keep me up to date on things going on around town he thinks I would be interested in attending, or introducing me to his friends and acquaintances who pop into the shop. This time, during introductions to another friend of his, he added , "Karen รจ quasi Veneziana" (Karen is almost Venetian).  Made my day!!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ponte della Costituzione

It seems Ponte della Costituzione just can't stay out of the news.  Not even a year ago, it made local headlines when a group of local boys drove a small car over the bridge.  This week, it's a damaged marble piece on the Piazzale Roma side of the bridge. It makes me sad to see this as I pass by each day. I wonder how in the world anyone managed to break off a piece of marble.  And I wonder how it will be repaired, if at all. For a bridge so new, it certainly has it's share of problems. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

An unexpected Venice meetup

I've blogged a few times about my meet ups with people who have been keeping track of my adventures in Venice through my blog, but this one last week takes the cake.

My typical day includes a lunch rendezvous with my husband Mike in Campo Santa Margherita, usually at Mood Cafe. Max has become my favorite local chef, and if you are a reader of my blog, you know I really like his cheeseburger! The other day Mike and I were just finishing our lunch  sitting in a booth at Mood chatting, when over the back of the booth we hear " Is this Karen?", in English.  We both turned our heads around, to find a man smiling over at us.  There was no one else in the place so he must have meant me.  "Yes, I'm Karen".  I turned to Mike to ask him if he knew these people, because I didn't.  Mike shook his head no.  I was baffled, but soon enough the mystery was cleared up.  "I'm Andrew. I read your blog."

Aha!  Andrew often leaves me comments, so I recognized the name.  He explained that he was in town with friends, and he had put tracking down Mood and Max's cheeseburgers on his list of things to do, having learned about Mood from my blog posts. So here he was.  When he entered the place, he heard Mike and I talking in English, and thought maybe, just maybe there was a slim chance that English speaking woman could be me.

We had a lovely chat with Andrew and his friends while Max was cooking up some burgers. I usually meet people who have come across me on the internet, but it has always been pre-arranged.  To have Andrew stumble over me by sheer coincidence was beyond anything I could ever have imagined.  What's that line of Humphrey Bogart from Casablanca " Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine."

Thanks to Andrew, I've had a Casablanca moment of my own.

Table Wars in Campo Santa Margherita

 The peaceful existence we'd come to know and love in Campo Santa Margherita is unfortunately a thing of the past, at least for now.We're in the midst of  full blown Table Wars, and it's getting uglier every day. For days on end in August and September there were articles in the local papers discussing either the previous night's events in the campo, or the status of the situation at the mayor's office.  And, most days, we'd see the local police out measuring the tables and chairs at each establishment, making sure that they were within regulation. No one can extend beyond the space they had been approved for, and were paying for.  Anyone who had an infraction was the recipient of fines levied on them, often to the tune of them being assessed every single day.

These lovely ladies have their tape measure out in front of Mille Vini wine bar, and are busy calculating the bad news of the day.

What's happened in Santa Margherita this summer actually  is two distinct things, in my view.  First, there are congregations of large numbers of students and young people in the campo, late into the night and early morning, making lots of noise, bongos included. This has ticked off the residents of the campo big time, and they took their complaints to city hall.

Someone at city hall, in their infinite wisdom, decided that the root cause of the noise and ruckus is the cafe's and bars being open after midnight selling alcohol. So, what did city hall do?They mandated that no alcohol be sold after a certain hour, and actually closed down the pizza place, the gelato shop, and the kebob shop after 11:30 pm.  After much back and forth between city hall and the shopkeepers of the campol, they decided the gelato shop could stay open later. He doesn't sell anything that might contribute to this. Sadly, the late night noise continued, almost nightly.  I suppose city hall got angry at being ignored, so they retaliated.  Our officials declared there would be "Zero Tolerance" for any infractions of city rules--- and they enforced this with a vengence in Campo Santa Margherita.  And thus, the beginnning of  what I have nicknamed "Table Wars".

There are a few newer cafes and wine bars in the campo who had applied to the city for permission to have tables outside in the campo.  Let's face it, in warm weather, establishments need tables outside to attract customers, especially in a campo like this one.  From what I understand, the permits had been applied for, but not yet processed.  As the weather got warmer, and permits had still not been issued, tables were put in the campo anyway, with the hope that permits would soon be in hand.  In the meantime, we had the noise issues, and the city hall crack down. First there was a rash of fines being issued. Police were in Campo Santa Margherita every single day with tape measures in hand. We laughed when we saw them, but for the new cafe and bar owners, this was no laughing matter.

Next thing we know, the city has conducted a sting operation of sorts. They swooped down on Campo Santa Margherita and confiscated the tables of the establishments who were in violation of having tables without permits. Lawyers have been hired, there have been several meetings with city hall, and still no resolution. Here we are, at the end of September with no resolution, still.  And in the meantime, these new shop owners are suffering with reduced revenue because they have no tables outside, not to mention big lawyer bills.

At my favorite new place, Mood, they are really feeling the pinch.  Their business is way off, and they fear they may have to close soon.  I find this to be a horrible shame, as these young men are hard working, industrious Italians, trying to make a go of their business. If they go under, I know what will open up in their location within a week- another souvenir shop selling imported junk.

I certainly have gone from outsider to local during my time here, haven't I?