Posted by: jeanne | January 27, 2017

chioggia

when we first got off the plane at marco polo airport, and tried unsuccessfully to buy bus tickets, and were helped by some very friendly ticket inspectors, one of them said she lived in chioggia, and recommended we go there.  it was a place we didn’t visit last time, and i’d read a bunch about it, so we promised that we would go.

and so we did.  today.  we picked a thursday because that’s market day.  and we got up while it was still dark so that we would get there early, because markets always seem to be in the morning.  connor was reluctant, because his favorite clothes were still on the drying line, and he had to wear the same clothes two days in a row – horror – but we stuffed a chocolate croissant into him and left at about the same time we usually have coffee.

rising before dawn, we noticed that the people in the palazzo across the canal from us – three out of four floors are occupied at the moment – get up before dawn.  we’ve been keeping tourist hours, or something.  connor came into bed with us and lay there squiggling while we tried to sip our coffee, and we discussed how you can only see blue in the very early morning, and talked about what colors come in from the gray first, and when dawn begins, and when all the features of the day become visible.  it’s an endlessly fascinating topic for us as artists.

before we could leave, the fairies did some acrobatics in the kitchen, and my venetian cookbook slipped off the shelf and dragged the coffee filters with it, and those hit the half-filled coffee cup, which hit the floor.  we watched it in slow motion; it was a beautiful geometry, and the coffee cup smashed wonderfully to bits on the tile floor.  it was one of two.  they were german.  the owners more than likely prized them.  drat.  wonder what slip of the mind set the fairies off.  i was probably telling connor that i was expecting his best behavior on the vaporetto today.

we headed for the vaporetto, but first had to go to the bank.  we withdrew a bunch of cash from the machine when we first got here, which is half a month ago now, and we’re only just now reaching the end of it.  they advise some horrible figure above $100/day for traveling, but we never spend that much, and like to keep it to about what we spend at home.  it takes some doing, but we’ve been starving artists for decades, and are good at living on nothing.  there’s a virtue in it.

i had intended to go to rialto in order to attend the cash machine there, but we found one in campo san aponal, and diverted swiftly to the vaporetto stop there, and we were on our way.  the vaporetto to lido, then the bus to pellestrina, then the ferry to chioggia.  as we traveled the wind came up and the clouds appeared and then thickened, and by the time we got there, tho there were no whitecaps on the lagoon, the wind was very fresh indeed.  i always stand outside on the boats we take, while the boys shelter inside, but today i had to go in with them because it was damned cold.

we brought the zoom lens, and the backpack, and the heavy gloves and the wool hats and the spare camera battery, and used them all.  the market was very interesting.  not really what we’d expected for several reasons.

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it had very little food, and the food was at either end of the market, which stretched right the way down the main drag from port to bridge , and beyond.  what the market had was clothes, clothes, more clothes, household goods, toys, more clothes, linens, notions, clothes, shoes, toys, clothes.  and most of the clothing colors were black and gray.  seems to be the fashion thing.  i’m into colors, so i walked past all of it.  but we got a cheese slicer, which we’ve been lacking, and a proper leather belt (every one we’ve bought in the states recently have either been cleverly disguised cardboard or cleverly disguised fabric, but this one stank of leather so we know we’ve got the real deal) for jim, a wolfpack hat and a set of cheap action dolls for connor, a replacement coffee cup for the house.  everything went into the backpack, and jim carried it, while i filched the wallet out of his jacket and carried that.

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the wind was fierce, the crowds were thick.  i held connor’s hand, and jim stayed only one step behind us.  i wish he’d do that in venice.  in venice i have to stop or turn my head, or ask connor where grandpa is every time we come to a bend in the street, so as not to lose  him.  in chioggia he stuck to us like glue.

by the end of the market we were very cold, so we stopped into a cafe and had hot chocolate for the boys, and a cafe corretto con grappa for me, and the bar lady brought a plate of cookies for us.  we sat there being amused as the regulars, stall holders or regular shoppers or locals all, stood around joking and talking.  it sounded like arguing except everybody was smiling and laughing.  we felt like we were family.  and we warmed up a lot.

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by the time we left the cafe, the wind seemed to have died down, but that was only becasue we were off the main drag and the wind was blocked.  so we wandered around taking pictures and looking at the old part of town.  half the houses seem to be for sale.  chioggia is laid out in many very narrow streets in a comb pattern.  not quite a grid, because there are few cross streets, and these are the canalside streets, but rather like a comb because of the many alleys between canals.  it was quite disconcerting to see cars everywhere, even in the little tiny alleys, and whenever we got to an actual car street it was scary, because we are used to taking up the whole street, and connor would have gotten hit had he run free the way he’s used to.

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several hours passed wandering up and down, and we were beginning to get hungry again.

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we finally found the fish market, separate from the thursday market, but it was closed already, and the floor was wet as vendors packed up and washed down.

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when we went back to the street with the market, everybody was packing up their vans and leaving.

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we made it to the big bridge near the port, and then wandered around looking for a restaurant.  but it was lunchtime, so all the restaurants were closed while everybody went home for lunch.  funny hahaha.

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connor, whose name means ‘dog lover’ found a friend

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but we were cold, tired, and hungry.  and finally, after passing a bunch of fishing boats, including one – gladiatore – that had lost its final contest with perhaps a larger boat, we saw a small hole-in-the-wall neighborhood bar and stopped in.

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the owners and their family were sitting down to lunch, and everybody moved into action when we walked in.  soon we had sandwiches and a range of chicchetti in front of us.  jim ate his ham sandwich, connor ate half of his tuna and egg, i ate all of my salmon and egg and all the chicchetti (anchovy and mozarella baked into a crust, grilled squid, and eel) and all the rest of connor’s sandwich while he angled for some of jim’s ham sandwich.  then we had coffee.  i ordered cafe latte, but either the guy didn’t hear me or my italian is nowhere as good as i think, because we got espresso.  we dumped sugar into it, and i used up all the tiny container of cream in our coffees, and when connor complained that he wanted some milk that the guy didn’t have, jim handed him his espresso cup, which fit connor as if it were a coffee cup, and connor took a single very small sip and made the kind of face i wish i’d had my camera out for, and then drank up all the rest of the water.

after a trip to the bathroom – a hole in the floor with a washboard area where you put your feet if you’re a girl, and where you can play fancy water tricks if you’re a boy – we were back out in the cold and wind.  except the sun was now out, and the place looked completely different, and we dawdled on the way to the port to catch our vaporetto to the bus to the ferry to lido and the vaporetto home.  the market was completely gone now; it was just a very broad street with plastic and paper blowing around, very empty even of people, it being lunchtime and everybody home having their postprandial naps.

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when we got to the far end of pellestrina, the bus dumped us off and turned around for a return trip, so we waited and waited and waited for the bus that was going to lido, and while we waited, and connor ran around playing with any italian guy who happened along, directing them to run with him, or race with him, or pretend to fight with him, an australian woman approached us and we struck up a really good conversation.  she hadn’t been paying attention to any news for the past month, so there was a lot we could tell her, even tho we’ve been trying to avoid sickening ourselves with current events too.  but since i haven’t shut off my facebook feed, i’m unfortunately current on current events.  it was only as bad as anybody with half a brain could expect, so we discussed what’s the world coming to, all three of us being officially old.

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i had the zoom lens attached, so got some good long-range photos of fishing shacks (what used to be the typical pellestrina house back during the war (world war 2 for us old people).

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and some nice long shots of venice.  and that shot of the masses of humanity in front of the bridge of sighs that i’ve been trying to get.

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and then we were off at san toma’, and took the direct route to the shop where we get our fritelle al crema.  they know us now.  when we pass, the lady yells out into the street –  hello connor.  this evening, he’d been so rowdy and unpleasant on the final leg of the vaporetto ride that i could hear him all the way from the deck of the boat, and he was suffering mightily because he didn’t think he was going to get his fritelle, so the lady picked him up and comforted him, and gave us the freshest fritelle.  they’ve been getting fresher daily as she’s fallen in love with our baby.  everybody does that.

now it’s time for our big compromise.  we knew we would be gone all day – eight hours – so we bought a frozen pizza at the store last night.  and tonight we’re going to make it up.  i’m having fresh garlic on my half, jim’s having ham on his half, and connor wants me to make the salami look like pepperoni for his half, even tho he’ll complain that it doesn’t taste the same as whatever he gets at chuckie cheese.  thank god.

 

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