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COFFEEOur last morning in Venice! Each day had started out in Campo Stefano with endless cups of double espresso and tiny pastries we never learned the name of. Our waiter smiled and asked, “so you will go home without getting lost in Venice?” We laughed because it seemed impossible to ever know  exactly where you were but we hadn’t gotten “lost” despite day long walks through the twisting, colorful streets, covered stone paths, bridges and alley ways. Blind Man’s Bluff without the blind fold, spun round and round, lazily breathless and happily dizzy. Suddenly, around the corner, over the bridge, a left, a right, turned around and eight paces that way, you were exactly where you wanted to be. It was fun.

We had rented what had once been the gardener’s cottage of a grand palazzo. It was a little two story house surrounded by a flowering walled garden with lemon trees and grand ancient  iron gates. A romantic idyll in one of the most romantic cities in the world. Locking the doors behind us we were Venetian or at least able to sustain the fantasy.

iRED WITH BLUE BOAT“I’d like to go for a walk by myself today,” Me said. “Really?” He asked, dropping his pastry. “Yes,” Me said “I have to believe that after eight days, I’ve learned something. I’m practically a local. I can do this.”  Our waiter smiled sympathetically at my husband.  (The waiter always smiled, probably raised from childhood on  incredible nameless  pastries.) “Signora, people live in Venice all their lives and sometimes even they can get lost.” “Well I’m not going to,” Me said. More sympathy, more smiles and He handed over the key to Me. “I’ll meet you back at the Palazzo in one hour,” He said with obvious reluctance, “One hour.”

CURVE STREETI walked without purpose to the next campo, turning left, perhaps toward the Rialto Bridge (or not), past the pink house with the white cat in the window, right at the blue shutters, straight past the window boxes with purple flowers. I wasn’t sure where I was but guessed that five winding turns in any direction could be someplace I’d recognize. With eight short minutes left on the agreed upon hour, I stopped trying to puzzle out “the best way back.”

A businessman in a apparent hurry was about to fly by me when he suddenly stopped and spoke to me in agitated in Italian. No idea what he was saying, I suddenly realized he was lost! Even better, he thought I was local! Unaccountably thrilled and empowered, I was able to decipher where he wanted to go. Somehow I was certain it was “the other way.”

alley houseThe heavy iron key to our front gates was the size of a carrot and I waved it enthusiastically at him for credibility. Before he could walk away, I took his elbow and started to walk him in the “right” direction.  A few minutes later, grateful that the white cat had not left the window in pink house, I was certain that he was only minutes away from his destination and our iron gates were a few short streets to the right. I walked him to the corner where he spotted someone in an outdoor cafe who waved at him.

“You leef here?” my businessman asked. “Yes,” Me replied, “for today, I do.”