Sunday, May 29, 2005

Day 13: Venice-Trento

On our last morning in Venice, I have my last look at the Campo waking up. The breakfast room is full so the desk clerk suggests that we might want to eat on our balcony. Why hadn't we thought of that earlier in the week?

Due to the hot weather and our large amount of luggage (and in the interest of research), we decide to take a water taxi to the Piazzale Roma where we pick up our rental car. The taxi picks us up on the far side of the Campo and we wrestle our luggage onto the boat, crawl through the low cabin and stand in the stern. We cruise at a leisurely pace through the back canals until we suddenly emerge on the Grand Canal. Now we are passing the vaporetti and I am sure that the passengers are wondering who the jet-setters in the private boat are. It is a lot of fun and the boat delivers us to the far side of the Piazzale Roma where we wrestle our luggage onto the dock. We enjoy our moment of "jet-setting" and are glad not to have had to struggle with all our bags across the bridge and on and off the vaporetto...all for Euro 50.00 (including the Sunday surcharge, the pickup fee and the charge for extra luggage).

I leave Diana with the bags, go to pick up the car and then drive back to load the luggage. I have to use the restricted bus lanes to get to the spot where Diana is waiting but there are no repercussions. We are soon packed up and on our way back to the mainland and on the road to Trento.

We enjoyed our time in Venice and especially liked the neighborhood feel of Cannaregio. There were plenty of restaurants in the area and enough attractions to keep us occupied. It was a bit of walk or boat ride to San Marco, but we didn't miss not being in "the middle of things", especially when we saw the crowds that packed the area. The hot weather (it was over 85 each day) certainly impinged on our stamina but didn't sour us on Venice. On the contrary, I think we are now ready for an extended stay there but in a cooler season.

We take the autostrada north to Belluno where we will head west on local roads to Trento. As we drive north past Treviso, the mountains are a faint outline in the distance but as we get closer, the landscape becomes increasingly dramatic. Around Vittorio Veneto and Conegliano (centers for the production of Prosecco sparkling wines), the hills are topped with castles and covered with vineyards and the rugged peaks of the Dolomites to the north and west become more prominent. The drive west is less dramatic until we we enter the Valsugana, just outside of Trento. The valley is planted with apple trees and vegetables and the very beautiful Lake Caldarazzo is packed with Sunday day trippers.

The entrance into Trento takes us through the commercial suburbs but we have no trouble finding the Hotel Accademia, located just inside the "centro storico". The hotel doesn't have parking but they do give us a sticker that allows us to park on the street near the hotel--the staff is careful to point out "only between the white stripes", Trento has not given us our hoped for relief from the heat--it is as hot as it was in Venice--but the hotel staff has turned on the air-conditioning and the room is cool and comfortable. After unpacking, getting settled and trying out the internet connection (it is not as good as in Venice but tolerable), we go to the hotel restaurant for lunch. They are set up in the beautiful outdoor courtyard (the same place that breakfast is served) and we enjoy a relaxed lunch. The waiter speaks some English and he asks us to "trust him" in terms of what to order. The menu is strangely international with some Trentino specialities (which the waiter disdains); there are some Greek dishes and rice dish with Thai seasonings, but most of the menu is pan-Italian. I have a wonderful carpaccio followed by a tasty dish of tagliatelle with mushrooms while Diana has an intriguing but slightly strange dish of artichoke hearts with ginger (an uncommon spice in Italy) and a good gnocchetti with small shrimp. We have a couple of glasses of wine (white from Sicily) and learn that the restaurant--Araliki--is a owned by a Greek (from Rome) and our waiter (Dragos) is his son.

After lunch and a little work, I set out for a quick exploration of the town. I am very impressed with the main piazza, dominated by the large Romanesque duomo and the medieval palazzo that houses the museum. Many of the other buildings are heavily frescoed (Trento calls itself "the painted city" and there are a number of sidewalk cafes ringing the piazza, all quite crowded on this Sunday afternoon. The piazza is also filled with individual garden plots which are part of an installation all over town called Giardini in Citta (gardens in the city). Different towns are competing with garden plots that illustrate local myths and fables. Some of the installations are quite elaborate with playground equipment and children's activities built in. Many of the Trento public buildings have opened their courtyards and there are different art installations on display.

The center also has an extensive pedestrian only shopping area that is very attractive, with lots of small hidden courtyards and portico lined streets. In one piazza, I come across the Festa dei Popoli, a international fair that is winding up this afternoon. There are booths from many countries, mostly non-European, which display their national handicrafts and serve local food. On a large stage, there are performers from some of these countries; while I am there, a Bolivian band is playing.

After it has cooled down a bit, Diana and I head out to the Piazza Duomo and for a short stroll around town. A the Festa dei Popoli, we stop and talk to the people at the Thailand booth who are surprised to hear someone speaking to the them in Thai. One of the Thai women runs a restaurant in Chiangmai and invites us to come and visit her there. We listen to an Argentinian singing some tango songs while couples from the local tango club in nearby Bolzano dances to the music. After checking out some of the garden installations, we sit in a cafe in the very attractive Piazza Duomo and have a drink.

We had a large, late lunch today so we decide to go a very stylish restaurant, Lo Scrigno del Duomo, which is right on the main square. They offer a variety of menus, including selections of local cured meats and cheeses, which is just what we want for dinner tonight. The restaurant is very busy and we eat in the very attractive front courtyard, The cheeses and salume are delicious although the bread is not very good. In the middle of dinner, a very loud ska band begins to play in the front of the Duomo.....and basically puts an end to any conversation for the rest of the meal. After we finish, we go out to watch them play for a while in front of a very enthusiastic audience of young people but we don't last too long and head back to the hotel.

Tomorrow we plan to drive into the heart of the Dolomites.


Typesetter said...

Ginger is uncommon, but on the rise.

1:32 PM  

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