My dear friend Wanda is in the midst of one of those nightmare travel scenarios. Too long a story to tell - suffice to say she is, as of this moment, still in NYC (perhaps even still at JFK). Please everyone, send good thoughts her way so that she gets out on a flight tonight. And bless my dear cousins Heidi and David for being in contact with her and offering her a comfortable and comforting place to stay. She/we have planned so long for this adventure together I must assume I will see her tomorrow afternoon.
My plan was to have breakfast, run some errands and then go to the airport to greet Wanda. Instead, I did some marketing - there's a lovely fruit and vegetable and fish market right in San Vio (moments away) every Tuesday and Friday - and then ventured out to new areas. More in a moment...
I've had an opportunity to spend a bit of time with Contessa Anna da Schio who owns this palazzetto. Her family has been in this region since - get ready for this - the year 1000. Is that amazing?? The family purchased this house in the - get ready again - 16th Century. Her brother was born upstairs. Her father was a landowner - her brother now grows grapes and makes wine on the family land and her mother still lives in the country near here. She lives, of course, in the piano nobile which is very beautiful. I hope to hear more of her story in the next two weeks.
And a word about the gentlemen at Le Forcole before I forge on. Thanks to the fact that Chris wanted some postcards, we finally went in and chatted with both Severio Pastor and his young apprentice. Severio has been carving forcole for 32 years and has only one apprentice at a time. This young man - of Venetian heritage and very, very blond - has been with him for two and a half years. When I asked how much longer he had to go, Severio answered for him - "25 years!" Everyone laughed but I have a feeling it may not be far from true. Neither the teacher nor the student has carving in his family but it is clear they love their work with all their hearts. When I told Severio I live in Hawai'i, he immediately asked if we fear rising ocean levels the way the Venetians do. Ah, Island people have a camaraderie like no others. We talked about global warming, "acqua alta" ("high water") which is a daily concern in Venice, and his art. I'm hoping to work up the nerve to ask if I can write a short story about his apprentice whose name, I'm ashamed to say, I don't yet know. I do walk by the studio at least three or four times a day and am always greeted with a very friendly, "ciao ciao." By the way, there are a total of THREE CARVERS in all of Venice that sculpt forcole. I am now acquainted with two of them.
People say that one of the joys of Venice is wandering and getting lost. The city is, after all, a series of islands so eventually you reach the water - yes, that island thing again... What I have found daily - first with Marcia and then with Chris - is that you can follow the map to the best of your ability but at some point you give it up to the universe/whomever and you always find what you're looking for.
First, I was determined to find a wine/cichetti bar (cichetti are the Venetian equivalent of tapas) which was unanimously recommended. Cantinone Gia Schiavi is very near to here and as marvelous as all the reviews. I loved having a glass of wine at 11:00 in the morning (!!) and the cichetti - I chose pistachio mousse and sweet squash puree on top of soft cheese - were so delicious I can't wait to go back.
I was also determined to find Vizio Virtu, Venice's premier chocolatier. I am, of course, extremely biased in favor of my family's own JoMart chocolates, but having said this, Vizio Virtu is a little gem of a shop with very interesting flavors - I shall soon try the Sigmund Freud which is flavored with tobacco. I should tell you I walked and walked and walked and asked and asked and asked trying to find this place. I finally gave up and then, of course, walked right to it on the way to the vaporetto.
Same thing happened with another Biennale installation, the Ukrainian Pavilion ("A Poem about and Inland Sea") at Palazzo Papadopoli. No coincidence, I'm sure, that the most blue-collar, working class exhibit is installed in the most ornate of the palazzi I've seen so far. Yes, I have photos - I need to "work" on them and will post.
I have a confession to make. I've learned how to work the satellite TV and I'm watching CNN, BBC World, and CNBC Europe. So sue me...
P.S. I'm putting up a photo down below of either the last or one of the last gondola workshops in the city at San Trovaso.