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Venetian blind

Anyone for a cliché?

I must just gush a bit about the place I stayed at yesterday. It’s an agriturismo – a farm based B&B.

The rooms were modest and simple and the farm itself was a sprawling mass of commercial sized greenhouses, groves of olives, lemons and oranges, indoor plants and quite a more as well as a vineyard.

The dinner was just spectacular. Pretty much everything, apart from the meat and fish, was grown and prepared on the farm. The wine was their own and even the arancello was produced from their oranges. It wasn’t fancy, over-prepared food but its quality and freshness spoke for itself. Four course heaven which needed a morning walk through the property to work off! It was beautiful.

Carnivore heaven

A German couple were also dining. They had a young baby, about one year old. Of course, they spoke perfect English and he was particularly interested in the now infamous Brexit. We downed rather a lot of arancello and discussed European politics, populism, German cars, Trump. After an hour or so, I felt the world was entirely sorted. And so to bed.

It being a Sunday, I was hopeful of making good progress today with few trucks about, particularly if I could make it to Venice before the hoardes return home (holiday weekend here too). Fortunately, that’s exactly how it turned out. It was motorway from start to finish and only one toll for the ticket and another to pay, 500kms later – I’ve not witnessed that before.

Italian motorways are not as pristine as French ones, but pretty good. The driving though, without wishing to generalise, is just like the stereotype. An indicator doesn’t mean, as in the UK, ‘I intend to turn’, it means, ‘watch out, I’m changing direction’. Gaps are for filling, not for allowing a sensible space for stopping. The ‘Stop’ sign, oddly, doesn’t mean stop before checking oncoming traffic, unlike in France where if you aren’t stationary, you’ll be fined. Confusingly, it just means ‘give way’. Taking the sign literally can result in a violent shunt from behind. A day of slightly bonkers driving, but the car (and me) made it OK.

I’m now in a rather odd suburb of Venice. There are hardly any cars moving about and just the occasional local cyclist. It reminded me a little of the series ‘The Prisoner’ of the 1960s. It’s very quiet and orderly. The B&B is slightly unprepossessing but once inside it is smart, modern and very recently refurb’d. All very hi-tech, with good aircon and broadband.

I mulled over whether or not to visit Venice. I was certainly tempted but the thought of the crowds and the hustlers put me off. Eventually, I convinced myself I should go and at least have some dinner.

I went in the car, straight across the causeway and it was only 15 minutes drive. Many of the parking places were all-day only (€25) but eventually I found one which charged by the hour. Yes, it’s all a bit of a theme park but fascinating too.

Venice is relevant to my trip as it was a major force in the development of the Silk Road. The Venetian controlled much of the coast all the way to the Constantinople and beyond, a favour granted to them by the Byzantines. They later showed their loyalty by helping the Crusade which sacked the City. Anyway, Venice = important silk road trading/distribution point.

Tomorrow, I pick up Keith, who will be travelling to the east of Turkey with me.

There is a bit of a whine from one of the front wheels. I think it’s a bearing so will need to be fixed, hopefully in Istanbul or earlier if the part can be sourced.

515kms today, 720 yesterday. Rather a lot of driving but I wanted to reach Venice on time for Keith(!) and now we can slow a bit and operate a more flexible schedule. At least the driving time will be halved!

Blinding Venetian sunset

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