Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Italy - Day 27 (Cortona to Venice)

It is Corey doing the typing today... I'm giving Wendy a much-deserved break from blogging and trying to come up with clever things to say, much as she does.  So no trip to Italy is complete without a short excursion to Maranello, right!?  For those uninitiated, Maranello is home to Ferrari!  They build them ONLY here and the entire town is basically devoted to the amazing machine that is Ferrari.  We did not plan ahead so we were unable to book a tour of the manufacturing plant or onsite race track, but we did visit the museum.  

The most amazing part of the exhibit was this section where we learned that "very special" people get to work closely with Ferrari engineers to design their very own car!  I know this sounds absurd, and they wouldn't give us any costs, but they said people like Eric Clapton and Arabian kings have designed their own Ferrari's.  They are always based on a basic model, but sometimes the changes are significant, as you can see in some of these pictures.  

We allowed each kid to 'pick' the car they wanted to take home.  This was Caden's choice!

And Lily's choice.

And Wendy's choice...

And Gia's choice - because it had a big back seat.  I know when I'm choosing Ferrari's, legroom is at the top of my list!
(Wendy here - I kept testing Gia saying, "Okay - you are running late to a new Frozen movie and Millie and Juliette want to drive.  How fast do you go?"  She answered,
"Oooh Frozen? As fast as I can!"  '_'

After a couple hours at Ferrari, we made our way to Venice, a couple hours away.  We witnessed a horrible accident (we arrived just after the helicopter arrived) along the Autostrada. The speed limit is 130km/h which is 81 mph, and they periodically use overhead cameras to monitor speed, so it is only in certain sections that people really exceed the limit.  This crash involved 2 semi-trucks and a car and semi's are generally limited to 90 km/h...but things were not pretty.  This was one time I was glad the kids were looking at their iPads.  It was a good reminder to take our time and enjoy the countryside. 
In this photo, you can see us arriving at the Water Taxi station in Piazalle Roma, which is the major parking area where most tourists arrive into Venice - or as Italians say - Venezia.  Once in Piazalle Roma, all transportation is water-based - either water taxis, ferries, or gondolas.  

Here we have 3 happy kids who are simply thrilled to be out of the backseat of our rental car!

Yea, there is something really cool about being in a city that uses canals as its roads.  

The kids are really perplexed by the steps that lead into the water.  And I honestly don't have a good explanation for it myself?  Maybe the water levels have moved up and down over the years?  

Our water taxi driver was 'interesting'.  First he yelled at Wendy for brushing her shoe against the seat, then he yelled at Lily for tapping her foot.  Then at the end of the ride, he did a jig, performed the 'pull-off-the-thumb' routine, and some other clowning around for the kids - all in Italian.  It was perplexing. I wish you could see the looks on the kids' faces during this routine. After he left, Caden said, "Dad, was there something wrong with that guy?"  I said, "Yes, Caden, I think so."

Home again.

The kids asked, "Are we really staying here??"

Gia is extremely relieved to find her bedroom up on the 2nd floor of Piano Nobile.  

She likes here hobby horse too.

The house is architecturally stunning!  Each room was a new delight for us to discover.  It was very big by Italian standards too.  Just an estimate, but I'm guessing about 1,500 square feet or more.  

Bedroom 2.  This is where Wendy and Caden slept.

All of the rooms had gigantic windows that overlooked at least 1 canal.  

This is our terrace overlooking the canal.  

The salone.  We called this our home theatre room since the kids watched movies on our computer in this room. 

Caden asked if this was the 'old lady' that owned the house.  We don't think so.  The kids call her the old lady because she is the same person we rented from in Rome.  She has several properties across Rome and Europe in general.  We think she is a diplomat of some sort, or more likely that her husband is since she refers to "Embassy-related" things in many emails.  She is almost comical in her concern for her many rentals.  She leaves laminated notes all over the houses with harsh messages about disobeying her rules.  For example, she will never just say, "please do not open this door."  Instead it will say, "Never, ever, for any reason whatsoever should you consider opening this door.  One guest opened this door and tore it off the hinges resulting in 1,000 Euro in damages.  For this reason, you are banned and strongly encouraged to heed my advice or you will be charged for damages."  You might think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not!  This morning a found a note dangling from the toilet saying, "Please, on bended-knee, I plead that you not put anything in the toilet other than the paper I supply.  If your child throws something in, please go after it yourself!  After all, it is your child and his or her 'contents' are thus a part of you. One guest had a very precocious child who decided to put a partially eaten apple in the toilet, thus requiring an entirely new vessel and countless calls to the Italian plumbers who have nothing better to do that sit in cafes and drink all day long."  
I almost wish we were renting from Odile in Milan too - we look forward to what her next laminated delight will bring!

The only downside thus far has been the heat!  We were looking forward to escaping the 100F weather in Rome for the high 80s in Venice but the humidity here in Venice is unbelievable!  We don't have air conditioning here either.  It brings back memories from both Wendy and my childhood of sitting in front of fans and taking cool showers just before bedtime.  But it is a small price to pay for the sights and experiences we are having. 

We visited a screen printing shop where Wendy picked up a few prints and got information about a class for the kids and we sat outside at a great little restaurant with excellent people watching.
Pasta, omelets and steak were on order this evening.

The walk home...

Venice at night is really something special.  

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