Arrivederci Venezia – Buongiorno countryside
24.05.2011 - 24.05.2011 30 °C
I loved Venice – if not the Venetians, who were surly & unhelpful, if not just plain rude for the most part (to any Venitians, sorry but it’s true, and it’s not just me that thinks so). The only ones that were a bit nice were either trying to sell me something or get their leg over. Of course I didn’t meet them all, and I’d probably be a bit cantankerous if I had to deal with hordes of loud, complaining Americans or aged and infirm Brits, not to mention the vast number of tour groups from Asia, all of whom seem to make up the bulk of the tourists. Venice proper (the bit on the island) is so lovely, it’s a shame to spoil it with the enormous crowds that clog its narrow streets.
Crowd queuing in Piazza San Marco for the Basilica
Crowd on the lovely Rialto Bridge
Once you get away from the madding crowd there, the noise disappears quickly and it’s quite peaceful.
Santo Stefano - Venice's own leaning tower!
Finding the same shop twice without a map is a challenge. You can’t get lost – you just keep walking, and sooner or later you’ll hit water, then just follow the streets around & you’ll meet a main thoroughfare or ferry stop. It does seem to be pretty safe, but there were a few dark streets I wouldn’t go down at nighttime if there was no light at the other end. I’ll really miss the music at night in the Piazza San Marco.
Took the ferry to the bus, which went to Marco Polo Airport so I could pick up my rental car. Got given a new model GPS so had to figure out how it worked before I left. The temperature in the airport carpark was 37.5 degrees, but later while driving the car’s thermometer said 30 deg C so we’ll go with that as the temperature for the day. I decided to take the “coast” road from Venice to Ravenna (which is 30 mins from Cotignola), expecting it to be more scenic than the motorway – and it’s fewer kms. However, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. The landscape is dead flat for most of the trip, and it goes: cornfield – poplar plantings – cornfield – dilapidated warehouse – cornfield – apple orchard – broken down farmhouse – poplars – cornfield – ooh, vineyard! – cornfield – well, you get the picture. All this and being in the middle of a convoy of trucks doing 10-20km less than the speed limit for about 90% of the trip and nowhere to pass because the other side of the road was equally convoy-ish. There were no photo opportunities really, and nowhere to pull over anyway.
Coming out of Ravenna, things did get a little (OK, a LOT) more exciting – and not in a good way. Yes, the GPS (Christine’s younger sister), told me to “turn right, then keep left”, so I did. What she actually meant to say was “turn right, then IN 500 METRES, keep left”. Doesn’t seem like much of a difference, does it? It does if the first “keep left” takes you the WRONG WAY up a motorway off ramp – and into the path of someone using it the RIGHT WAY (I know at least one of the people reading this knows how that feels). We both screeched to a halt (just as well I don’t understand Italian or I would have got an education in cursing!) and missed the collision by maybe 2 or 3 cm. After profuse apologies I did a 3-point-turn & headed back down the ramp, but it took me a good 5 minutes to stop shaking & I don’t know how long to swallow my heart back to where it belongs. Then I followed the cars that appeared to be going the way I needed to without further incident. Man, was I the happiest girl in the world to get to my hotel!
And it is ab-so-loot-lee gorgeous!!
Palazzo Boschi, Cotignola
I feel like I’ve died & gone to heaven (perhaps I did have that accident after all!). I pulled up to a lovely peach-coloured plastered solid brick building in vineyard country. I was so hot – and still pretty stressed – when I got here, and the owner Samuel met me with a smile & a handshake, and let me into the wonderful, cool, calm interior of this beautiful renovated monastery.
It got even better than that – he showed me to my room. It’s at least 30 sqm, no, not counting the bathroom – my room in Venice would fit into it about 6 times, with room to spare (actually my Venice room would fit into the bathroom here!).
Out my window
For the first time, I’ve uploaded pics of the hotel & my room. Not exciting for you guys I’m sure, but I couldn’t be more thrilled. They own their own vineyards, have a restaurant on site, and Samuel’s mum makes jams & preserves under their brand. If I didn’t have to get the car to Florence in two days, I’d stay here instead.
Their restaurant’s closed tonight, so I headed into a nearby town called Faenza for dinner, and on the way back the sun was setting. I’ve never seen a sunset that colour. The ball of the sun was such a bright, brimstone salmon-red, I tried to get a good photo, but I was a bit late by the time I could pull over & the colour didn’t come out very well. Maybe it’ll do it again tomorrow & I’ll have another go.
I have two nights here, and will head out to have a look around the Romagna region tomorrow. Hopefully will get a bunch of good photos.
I’m sitting here right now, and all I can hear are crickets & the last of the birds (there’s a cuckoo out there somewhere), and the knocking in the walls, caused by the house cooling down. At least, I hope that’s what it is.