So Sunday saw us rise late with no appointments or obligations until late afternoon. We took advantage of this rare lull and caught up on some work, enjoying the view over the Grand Canal from our room even as the previous days' beautiful weather deteriorated with clouds and occasional showers. This is our first stay in this hotel, the Palazzo Barbarigo, located on the Salute side of the Grand Canal near the San Toma vaporetto stop. It is a hip, trendy hotel, with cool furnishings and low lighting, a spare reception area and a large attractive bar and lounge area on the second floor, complete with a small terrace overlooking the canal. Our arrival on Friday was by water taxi to the hotel's canal entrance, which made for a grand and impressive welcome. Egres by foot, however, requires you to walk down an impossibly long and even more impossibly narrow alleyway that makes three separate right angle turns, with nary a doorway or entry along the way, before emerging onto a main street just off a large square. The entrance to our private alley is unmarked save for a small red heart that someone, probably not the hotel, has painted on the entrance. Thank goodness for grafitti artists.
Suzy and I make a single excursion from the hotel, a leisurely lunch at a touristy nearby pizza restaurant. Despite the churning at the restaurant, when it became apparent to the staff that we were tucking ourselves in for an extended meal rather than the typical eat and dash of this place, they warmed to us and slowed the pace. It was a relaxing way to spend a lazy afternoon even if the food was mediocre. Pete and Nancy, meanwhile, bravely ventured off to Murano to explore the island's glass makers and had what they described as one of, if not the best fritto misto on this trip. And that is saying a lot.
Our big adventure for the day was a private water taxi tour of the Grand Canal, arranged by our newest bestest friend Alessandro. He picked us up at the hotel in an immaculate glimmering wooden launch captained by, as he described him, the best taxi driver on the lagoon. It was only later on in the tour that I overheard him asking the driver "come ti chiama" (what is your name). Oh those Italians!
|Watch your head!|
Our tour ended not back at the Barbarigo, but rather at the ultra luxe Hotel Cipriani on the Giudecca, an island across the canal from San Marco, reachable by vaporetto, private taxi or the hotel's own private launch. Alessandro and what's his name deliver us to the hotel's private dock where we are greeted by a uniformed attendant who offers us an arm to step from the taxi to the dock. With that one step we are transported from the ordinary to a fantasy world of perfection. We have arrived in the world of Cipriani.
We stop by San Marco for a final drink and to listen to the dueling combos that play at the outdoor caffes in square, the music washing over us like a coat of sealer that will preserve the memories of another visit to this magical, mystical city.
We alight from our vaporetto and make our way to the secret alleyway that will wind back to the Barbarigo, nearly getting stuck in the narrow passage, perhaps a warning that fantasy and reality do not always coexist so well. But that is a lesson for another day. Tonight we will sleep soundly dreaming of the fantasy world that is Venice before heading off to the island of Ponza.
Bill and Suzy