Thursday, October 18, 2007

Day 17: Belluno-Venice

Before leaving Belluno, we take a short stroll through town and stop in at the Museo Civico for a quick look around. It turns out tobe a very well organized and interesting museum with rooms devoted to local archaeology, a picture gallery featuring local artists, a sculpture gallery and collections of local furniture, jewelry and clothing.
It takes a lot longer than I expect to take “a quick look” and we spend almost an hour there before heading back to the hotel.
We pack up, leave Belluno (another overcast day) and get on the road back to Feltre. Since we know exactly where we are going, we drive right into the “centro storico” and park in front of the museum. La Galleria dArte Moderna “Carlo Rizzarda” di Feltre is the former home of the Feltre native and early 20th century wrought iron master, Carlo Rizzarda. The collection includes a couple of floors of modern paintings and two floors of wrought iron art pieces.

We are the only visitors today and we have the place to ourselves. Some of the pictures on the first two floors are very good but our main interest is the iron work so we move through the paintings quickly. There are more than 100 pieces on display–some lamps, some stair railings, some representational–and they are, for the most part, pretty sensational. Some are large and powerful, others are more delicate. They are displayed beautifully in the high-ceilinged rooms and we take our time moving through the collection.
Here area fewpictures of the pieces that we liked the most.
We slowly wend our way back through the modern pictures before starting out for Venice. What a surprise to find such a impressive collection of modern iron art in a small provincial city in the Veneto, but that’s Italy for you.
The drive to Venice should take just over an hour but we get stuck in a massive traffic jam just outside of Venice and get held up for about 45 minutes at the merge of two autostradas. We pull into the gas station at the Piazzale Roma to fill up before returning the car but the attendant is at lunch and I don’t want to risk using self-service to top off the tank. So we drive back across the causeway to the mainland to the closest open gas station. I drop Diana and the luggage at the water taxi stand and return the car.

There is a lot of discussion among the taxi drivers and dispatchers about the location of our apartment and finally we are on our way. It is raining by now so we are sitting in the covered cabin of the boat. We are not sure that the driver knows exactly where he is going but we finally head into the back canals close to the apartment. He quickly pulls up, motions for us to get out, unloads the luggage, tells us that the apartment is just a few meters up the street, turns the boat around and pulls away. It turns out that the address is more like 100 meters down the street so we have to wrangle our five pieces of luggage in the rain down to the apartment. Thankfully there were no bridges that we have to negotiate but I am pretty annoyed that we are dumped so far away.
We are renting the apartment of a glass designer named Norberto Moretti
who is a friend of Nan McElroy’s–a fellow Slow Travel member who lives in Venice. This is the first time that he has rented it out and it is being handled by Marta, who manages a few apartments and who is another friend of Nan’s. Marta arrives a few minutes after us, opens the doors and gets us settled. The apartment is located in the northwest section of Venice–the sestiere of Cannaregio–very near the Ghetto. It is far from most of the tourist attractions and is still quite Venetian in character.
The apartment is located in a cul-de-sac off the canal. There is a well in the middle (which is being repaired) and workmen are also constructing scaffolding on the building next door so we can expect some noise during our stay. There are two stores…one sells boating equipment and the other has children’s clothes, dolls and puppets. The apartment is very spacious by any standard with a large living room, large bedroom, separate dining room and large entrance hall which also houses the office area and the high speed internet access–one of the big attractions of the apartment.
Marta shows us around, explains how the appliances work and how to turn the heat on and off. The only downside is the strong smell of cigarette smoke…we had never asked whether Norberto was a smoker. But we open the windows and hope to air it out quickly.
One piece of kitchen equipment that is missing is an American coffee maker so after we unpack and try out the internet access, I make a shopping expedition (in the rain) to find a coffee maker. After a fairly long search, I find a store that sells a French press coffeemaker which I buy and then head back to the apartment.

We meet Nan at 6:30 and head out to a favorite neighborhoodhaunt of hers–La Cantina–for some good red wine and ciccheti (Venetian tapas). We don’t fill up on the cichetti so Nan heads back to her house (just down the street from our apartment) and we head over to the Ghetto to have some pizza at Al Faro, a place that we liked onour last trip to Venice. The pizza is actually quite good–Diana has a “diavolo” and I have a white pizza with sausage and rucola. It is a pleasant walk back through the ghetto to the apartment.

Tomorrow, we have to do laundry and get our monthly vaparetto passes before we start sightseeing.


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