We woke to another winter day in Venice shrouded in fog. Not just fog, but the kind of thick fog you can cut with a knife. Incredible. I had made plans to meet an American woman for coffee this morning at Ciak, a cafe just off Campo San Toma. Linda, another person just like me who has answered Venice's siren call, is here on vacation again, this time with her son and daughter-in-law. Last time she was here we'd planned to meet but I, at the last minute, couldn't make it. This time nothing was going to keep me away, not even the cold I'd been battling the last few days (it miraculously was much better this morning), nor this pea-soup of a fog.
As I walked up to the vaporetto stop, I recognized Alessandro, one of my favorite gondoliers, who was also just about to walk onto the boat platform. After a quick hello, we discovered we were both headed to San Toma, so rode the whole way up the foggy Grand Canal out in the middle open area of the boat. Our conversation had me laughing - each sentence was half in Italian, half in English- and covered every topic from the weather (FOG!), to the city's problems with the America's Cup race, to my elderly mother, to vacationing in Naples and back to fog. I was loving the start of this day already.
Alessandro and I stopped for a macciato together at Ciak. He went off to work, I grabbed a table and a local newspaper to wait for Linda to arrive. I thought it was just going to be Linda, myself, and her son and daughter-in-law. Turns out there would be 4 more joining us, all people who had met through the Slow Travel website. Susie and Mark from San Francisco, and Christie and Paul, also coincidentally from San Francisco arrived at about the same time. Both these couples, like Linda, come to Venice every year for several weeks to several months. The conversation at our table of 8 flowed on and on, just like we were long lost high school buddies at a reunion. Instead, we were strangers who, because of a mutual attraction to this city, and thanks to the internet have become new friends. Thank you, Venice and Al Gore!
So that was my morning.
By mid day, the fog had burned off quite a bit. By late afternoon, it had rolled right back in again. Mike and I went off for a walk through Castello with a few stops for errands. Before we got all the way back to Sant'Elena I needed a restroom, which prompted a detour at Osteria al Ponte, very close to the Giardini. While having coffee, I noticed a plate of freshly made homemade frittelle on the counter. Try as I might, I could not resist the temptation. These were the Veneziane version- not filled with anything, just fried dough. Sweet, warm, scrumptious. Best frittelle I've had so far, surpassing my favorites with ricotta. Now that I know they are here, I'm going to have to really hold myself back from making an "unplanned" stopoff here everyday.
Right before dinner, our doorbell rang. Neither Mike nor I actually recognized it was the doorbell until it rang a few times. We have 2 bells in the new apartment- one downstairs outside by the front door, and a second one just outside our entrance doorway up here on the second floor. When we get visitors, they ring the outside bell. From in the apartment, we can pick up a phone to talk to anyone outside, and there is also a video so we can see anyone standing out there. Once we buzz people into the building, one of us is always out in the hall outside our apartment door. I feel like Molly Goldberg (ok, I know I am dating myself with this reference), leaning over the railing and yelling down from the second floor. Tonight, when the other doorbell rang outside our door, we had to think twice to figure out there was someone out there.
Mike answered the door and spoke to whoever it was. Turns out it was our new upstairs neighbor, whom we have met in passing as we are coming or going. Cesare was at the door with an invitation to his birthday party on Wednesday night.
My day started and ended with new friends. Can't beat that, can I?