Tuesday, October 18, 2005 – Day of the Gatti
We must have been exhausted, because we slept in until nearly 11am this morning. After breakfasting on what was left in the refrigerator (salami and cheese for M, delicious greek yogurt for me) we walked up to the Fondamente Nuove for our now customary cappucinos and then boarded the #42 vaporetto which took us way out into the lagoon where we soaked in the scenery, sunshine, fresh air and the chop, chop sounds of the vaporetto skirting across the waves.
We got off the vaporetto at Sant’ Elena and walked through a peaceful little park and rested for a bit on a bench with a view looking across the water at Piazza San Marco which was, I am certain, bustling with tourists but we felt a million miles away from all of that.
Because of our skimpy breakfast we were quite hungry by that time and so we ate lunch at a parkside cafe called Cafe Molinari. Michael had tortellini with cream and proscuitto, and I had tagliatella alla bolgnese. The pasta was simply prepared and the taste was pure and exquisite at the same time. Best of all, our bill came to under 20 Euro, which is rather inexpensive for pricey Venice.
Happy and satiated, we then wandered through the Quartiere Sant’Elena, and often we were the only people on some of the calles and certainly, the only tourists.
As we walked though this sestiere, with it’s sun-colored buildings and hanging laundry of all colors of the rainbow, we came across several cats with varying levels of friendliness. Fortunately for me, there were three or four who were quite willing to let me stroke their chins and scratch their ears. I got some fantastic pictures and Michael captured some embarrassing video of me making a fuss over them. I can’t help it – I’ve always been a cat person and know I always will be. I’ve always preferred the quiet intelligence and subtle charms of the cat to the more obvious nature of dogs. Here are a couple of my favorite gatti:
It took some effort to tear me away from the gatti, but Michael eventually convinced me that we really should take that gondola ride before it was dark, and so we wandered through the Castello sestiere (too touristy for my taste, but interesting window shopping) and hired a gondolier who took us through some of the quieter canals, past Marco Polo’s house, and briefly into the Grand Canal.
After about an hour, he dropped us off at our traghetto stop and we walked home to rest a bit before dinner.
Based upon the recommendation I had read on the Slow Travel site, we went to a nearby restaurant called Trattoria da Bepi for what was yet another memorable meal – I had gnocchi stuffed with spinach and potato in a light sauce and Michael had spaghetti in garlic chili oil for our primi. For secondi, I had the most delicious roasted chicken skewers and Michael had a beef steak which was very thin and served with a fresh tomato basil sauce. As was the case with Osteria da Alberto, very simply prepared yet incredibly delicious food. Unfortunately, this was an expensive meal – nearly 80 Euro – but I think they put some kind of drug in the food that made me not care as much about the money. It was *that* good.
After dinner, we strolled around the neighborhood briefly and made it an early night – we had to pack up and head to Florence the next morning.