After Florence, we couldn't pass up the chance to see Venice. What a beautiful place to spend a day off. When inquiring about points of interest and must-see places, we were told to simply "follow your nose." So that we did.
We arrived around 1 a.m. having done a runner right after the gig in a nearby city. Our tour manager was adamant about leaving from the gig by midnight or we would "miss the boat." I took this figuratively. She meant it literally. The only way to get to our hotel was by way of the canal in a boat, which ran on a tight schedule. Hence our tour manager's tenacity.
I had mixed emotions when we arrived at the water-taxi stand. Part of me was excited. It's a very romantic way to travel through a city—a first for me to be sure. The glass-half-empty-with-a-leak-in-it part of me was a bit nervous. I can't swim and loathe boats. One of my bandmates shook his head at me and said, "Walk it off, pansy." Nothing like some sarcastic peer pressure to temporarily snap you out of a lifelong phobia.
No regrets of course. What an incredible experience. We followed the advice of those who came before us and at noon we began to follow our noses. After several hours of oohs and aahs and chronic photo snapping, we found ourselves in front of a little wine shop in the university square. Great little place featuring small-production wines—not unlike the Silverlake Wine Shop in Los Angeles. The owners were very friendly and, after assisting us in polishing off a bottle of Nero d'Avola, offered to be our guides for the evening.
We wine-barhopped for a while before arriving at their favorite local restaurant, Vini Da Gigio. Hands down the best pasta with white truffle sauce I have ever had the pleasure of devouring. We were then fortunate enough to be included in their nightly blind-tasting ritual. We guessed two for two. Not bad for tipsy tourists.
We managed to find our way back to the hotel without drowning and in the morning took a boat to the airport. (Insert cleverly adjusted Steve Martin/John Candy movie title here.) For photos of the trip, check out the journal section of my winery/vineyard website, www.caduceus.org.
Pete Pettorossi — Chjcago IL — January 4, 2007 8:20pm ET
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