Friday, May 13, 2011

Report from Venice

 A quiet corner of the Grand Canal
Watercolour and crayon
©2011 Charlene Brown

Continuing our European Grand Tour, which began with my Report from Prague  ... We arrived in Italy on May 18, and stayed one night in Cortina, where we woke up to find everything covered in snow – ironic, in that the reason for heading to Italy from Sweden was so we could be sure it would be warm. The snow slowed our descent to the autostrada for the journey south – not because there was any left on the road by the time we got going, but because as the cloud lifted, the glistening white mountains were so sensational that we had to stop anywhere the road was wide enough to take pictures! (Remember, this was in the dark days before affordable digital cameras, and you couldn’t just shoot continuously from a moving vehicle in the hope of getting a few good pictures).
We headed down to Lago di Garda to stay for a few days, arriving to see windsurfers crossing the lake at horrifying speeds propelled by gale-force winds! Oddly enough, the next day we were having lunch at San Zeno di Montagnes high above the mirror-like surface of the lake, watching about fifty tiny sailboats trying to have a race… Or maybe it was a synchronized sailing display, because that’s all they did for the three hours we managed to make lunch last – line up in various directions and hold each position for about fifteen minutes.
One day we left the car in Garda and took a day-trip to Venice, where a gondola ride was included in the tour. This turned out about like you’d expect… Because my husband is so big, it was thought better if we didn’t actually sit together.  So off we went, with the gondolier standing on the left, me sitting on the right, and my husband in the pointy part up front, facing backwards, leaning to the left or right as required to stabilize the whole manoeuvre as we glided beneath bridges or knifed our way through the other two thousand gondolas in operation that day. Actually it was a pretty terrific day all round and because we got there on a train we got a chance to have a look at the vineyards, orchards and fabulous fluorescent red poppies of the Volpolicello region, instead of just the road or the road map.