After breakfast and Ripobottonesi good-byes, we headed towards Venezia. I was so intent at looking at the map that when I finally looked up--there was the beautiful coast of the Adriatic Sea. Olive groves and the sea in Abruzza...
We were making great time and by 11:30 am we were nearing Castelfidaro and the home of Anne's friend Liz and her husband, Alessandro. We drove up and down their street for about forty-five minutes asking pedestrians for directions but they confused us even more. Finally a man in a shop showed us their entrance gate on Google Earth, we arrived, pushed the button and the gate opened to reveal their beautiful home. We had a wonderful visit and lunch at Pippo, a very nice little restaurant. Then Liz and Alessandro graciously drove us to the autostrada so we would not get miserably lost, and by 3:30 we were on our way again.
And now a piece of advice for anyone thinking of driving into Venice--don't. Amazingly we made it to the train station after what was one of the most stressful kilometers of my life. But stepping out of the station to see the waterway, lights, and what looked like a medieval festival was exhilarating. Vendors selling "Gucci" bags set out on blankets, kiosks of Venetian masks, tee-shirts, chocolates, fresh produce... Storefronts with jewelry, gelato, upscale clothing and kitsch. We walked for fifteen minutes--up the stairs, over the bridge, down the stairs to find our hotel street. The "street" is more like a passageway three feet wide with tall buildings hemming you in. Look to the left and you can see and smell the stench of more water, but the beauty of the lights shimmering over it is breathtaking.
It's dark, late, and I can still hear the sound of people walking on the cobblestone walkway outside our window. I'm looking forward to seeing the city in the light of day.