Loving the Lido

A 45 minute train journey and we arrive at the station in Venice, excited to be spending time in this timeless city. Outside, the place is heaving with people and boats. We weave our way through the crowds, over a bridge, and down to Piazzale Roma. Officially resident in the Veneto, we’re entitled to travel cards, and we fill in the appropriate forms, show our ID, and buy a carnet of reduced-fare rides from the Hellovenezia office.

Then we trundle our overnight case back to the station, to clamber aboard water-bus number 51. The trip takes 35 minutes via the Giudecca Canal and St Mark’s Basin to the Lido.

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It’s here we’ve booked our hotel. Stepping off the vaporetto, we take in the view of Venice with the Dolomites forming a backdrop to the scene.

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It’s rare to see the mountains from here, and we feel blessed the weather is so limpid we can do so.

A short taxi ride later (there are cars on this island) and we’re at Pensione Villa Stella. Our hosts are welcoming and the room they give us is lovely.

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Villa Stella Garden

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We relax for half an hour, then set out for an evening stroll. The Lido has a more laid-back, residential feel to it than traditional Venice. We pass the beaches, beautifully empty at this time of the year.

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After about 45 minutes’ walk, we stop for a beer at one of the bars along the promenade, where local residents are also enjoying a drink.

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We catch sight of the building where the Venice Film Festival is held then pass the boarded up Hotel des Bains, famous for being the location of Thomas Mann’s novella Death in Venice and Visconti’s later film of that name. Footsore and hungry, we make our way to La Tavernetta Wine Bar & Restaurant for dinner. We order baked sea-bass and, when it arrives, it’s absolutely delicious.

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Having abstained from a starter, we indulge in chocolate soufflé with vanilla ice-cream for dessert, washed down with crisp white wine. Yum!

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Replete, we chat about our next adventure. Tomorrow we’re off to explore the island of Burano, and that will be the subject of my next post.

Asolan afternoon

The view from the garden bench reminds me that we haven’t been to Asolo for a couple of weeks. The town is what drew my parents to this part of Italy in the sixties, and persuaded them to buy an old farmhouse nearby for their retirement. Every day, I stare at the ancient military fortress, La Rocca, on the farthest crest to the right. It whispers to me of the time when, from the 14th to the 17th centuries, the fort represented part of the defense system of the Venetian Republic.

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We set off at midday and park in the main square by the Caffè Centrale,which is owned and run by Lele and Ezio, my late step-father’s cousins.

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In the Piazza Brugnoli, we look up at La Rocca from a different angle to the one at home, the sky so blue and cloudless it seems to go on forever.

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Passing a taverna offering panini , pasta, and delicious wine, we stop for a bite and a sip before heading down the hill.

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A shop selling Easter goodies catches our eye

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and we continue on past Eleanora Duse’s house (see my post of 18 March 2013), heading to the small church of Santa Caterina of Alexander, which was built, not in its present form, but a smaller building, in the 14th Century. The frescoes by the altar give an indication of the original shape with a sloping roof.

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We sit in quiet contemplation. I’m due to write a scene in my time-slip historical romance Lady of Asolo which will take place here, and I can’t wait to get started.

On our way back up the hill, we stop for a coffee with Luisella, a friend who works at the Hotel Villa Cipriani

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It’s the first time we’ve been there since Mum died, and we feel sad as we remember her loving her visits to the hotel. But the beauty of the day and the setting consoles us, and soon we head back to the car, up the Via Canova.

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Driving home, we catch sight of the wisteria on a building to our right. Spring has sprung, and we’re looking forward to getting out and about for more romance and adventure next week.

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