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February 3, 2012     Post-Gazette
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POST-GAZETTE, FEBRUARY , 2012 Page 13 Nanna 00Babb00]nonno by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance Last week, I left off leav- ing Florence to head to Venice. As we drove north- east, the scenery changed a bit and the temperature was a little cooler. Northern Italy seemed more like Switzer- land or Austria than the Italy we had experienced in the south. If you want to know the truth, I felt more comfortable in the south. The people were more friendly and outgoing, and we physically blended in much better. Once we fi- nally arrived in Venice, we had to leave the car in a lot on the mainland as there are no drivable streets in Venice, only waterways. A travel service near the car lot booked us into a pensione, a small bed and breakfast and we headed to the dock to take the bus. Oh, by the way, the busses in Venice are called vaporette. They are boats that stop at various locations {bus stops) to take local people to their neighborhoods. We had just missed the bus going our way and decided to hail a taxi. Taxis in Venice are speed boats. We piled our belongings in the rear of the six passenger craft, and off we went. When we arrived, I found the resort interesting. Al- though we were on the coast, the building looked more like a mountain cha- let and the owners spoke a dialect of Italian that seemed punctuated with words we didn't understand. I said to Franny in English, "Dorothy, this doesn't look like Kansas." Sal and Jose understood what I meant, all having seen the Wizard of Oz. It was late afternoon and time for dinner. We were tired and decided to eat in the dining room of the pensione, study the map of the city and then head out later to explore and have a cup of coffee. What surprised me was that there were only one or two pasta dishes on the menu. I ordered a lamb shank and it came with a salad, vegetables and rice. When the bread basket was placed on the table, a slab of butter accompanied it. We hadn't seen butter since we ate in an American restau- rant in Naples. The wine was a lot lighter in flavor that the southern wines we had become accustomed to in our travels, and I noticed that there was as much beer being served at other tables as there was wine. After relaxing a bit, we decided to take the near- by vaporette to St. Mark's Square, the center of Venice. The square was filled with tourists and pidgeons. Gondolas were docked at the edge of the water along with taxis and couples and families were waiting in line to take romantic cruises through the canals. We found an interesting trattoria, sat outside and ordered coffee and drinks. For the next hour or so, we watched the tourists parade by. I heard people speaking French, German, Dutch, Flemish, Spanish, English, Portu- guese, Arabic and Japanese. I was fascinated. Before going to bed, I decided to call home. With a six hour time difference, bed time for us was late af- ternoon in Boston. Babbo- nonno answered the phone, "Allowe." I responded with, "Buon giorno, Babbononno." He replied, "Jonny, you cumin-a homma?" I told my grandfather where we were and it would be a couple of weeks before we were head- ing back to the states. I then described our travels north to him and he listened ea- gerly, not having seen his homeland since 1896, 76 years earlier. We talked for a bit and then Mom and Dad got on the extension phones when they discovered I was on the phone. Everything was OK at home and that weekend, they were all tak- ing off for Maine. That meant that if I had to get in touch in an emergency, I would have to call one of the neigh- bors in Maine as we didn't have a phone at the cottage. (What did we ever do before the invention of cell phones???) The next day, we headed back to St. Mark's Square and visited the mansions, estates and museums that were built during the Re- naissance and later. Most were beautiful, ornate and reflected Venice being one of the financial and business centers of Europe back in the day. Our next stop was St. Mark's Cathedral with its golden altar and famous bell tower. Atop the tower are bronze statues of people that move on the hour. They re- volve around the top of the tower, turn and hit bells with giant hammers signaling the time of day. We decided to climb to the top. Unfortu- nately for me, it was at noon time. Just as we reached the -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 top, the statues began sig- naling via the bells. My head didn't stop vibrating for a few hours and my ears rang all day. We had a snack at a car6 in St. Mark's Square and then headed for a vaporette that would take us to the Is- land of Morano. This was the location of several factories that made crystal objects for the world, glasses, goblets, dishes, decorative pieces and chandeliers. Once on the dock of Morano, we stopped in a tourist office to book ourselves a tour of one of the factories. Luckily, one had an opening within min- utes. The owner greeted us at the entrance and apolo- gized stating he would have to conduct the tour himself. All but one of his employees were on vacation. One glass blower was still there and would show us how to make glass objects. The owner spoke perfect English. I thought he might have been an American who moved to Italy or an Italian American who returned home. That's how perfect his English was. When he used words with "ed" at the end, I discovered that he wasn't American, only someone with a good ear for the lan- guage. He pronounced the ed at the end of words like cooked or worked: cook--ed or work--ed. The man gave us the grand tour and his glass blower made a cowboy on a bucking bronco out of molten glass as we watched. He presented it to Franny as a gift. When it was time to leave, I tried to tip the owner, who refused saying, "Please, if you want to tip someone, take care of my glass blower. I did. As we were leaving, a group of English tourists were the next in line to see the factory. The owner greeted them with a perfect British accent. Overhearing this, I marveled at his capac- ity with our language. Venice was fascinating, but it was time to head back to Cassino and Franny's fam- ily at the farm. When we returned, I discovered that there were other family members who had dropped in for a few days, and Sal land I decided to check in at a local hotel, the only one in Cassino with a swim- ming pool. The owner turned out to be someone who had been deported from the U.S. He used his ill gotten gains to open a hotel and go on the straight and narrow, but that's a story for next week. GOD BLESS AMERICA Small Ads GetBI Bay State Skating School Learn-to-Skate Classes Learn-to-Skate classes as well as figure, recreational and hockey skating skills for children ages 4 & and up and adults are at 12. Greater Boston rink locations: Brookline Cleveland Circle & Larz Anderson, Cambridge, Hyde Park Dedham, Medford LoConte, Newton-Brighton, Quincy, Somerville, South Boston, Waltham, West Roxbury and Weymouth. Use either hockey, recreational or figure skates. Beginner, interme- diate and advanced classes taught by professional instruc- tors. 43 Years Experience. For information and to register, call Bay State Skating School at 781-890-8480 or visit online at www.BayStateSkatingSchool.org. Gift Certificates. Fare Increase (Continued 230, 245, 275, 276, 277, 436, 451, 465, 504, 553 and 554, and Sunday routes: 18, 37/ 38, 43, 59, 60, 78, 136, 137, 171, 201, 202, 211, 230, 245, 275, 276, 277, 431 and 436. If you depend on the RIDE or bus service I suggest you call your representative and senator on Beacon Hill and tell them that the T budget problems should not be solved by whacking the from Page i) handicapped with huge fee increases and cuts in critical bus service. In the North End your Representa- tive is Aaron Michlewitz (617-722-2400), in East Boston it's Carlo Basile (617-722-2220). In the West End, Marty Walz (617-722- 2380). In all these commu- nities your State Senator is Anthony Petruccelli (617-722-1634). Stirpe Nostra (Continued from Page 2) arrow. Anyone who ridiculed During his reign, many him was thrown to the wild men were able to secure beasts. One fat person was punishment for their en- cut right down the middle of emies by bribery, or even to his stomach so that his in- buy immunity for them- testines gushed forth, while selves, a change of punish- some men were given a new ment, or a substitution of name of "one-eyed" after he another person for one who plucked out one of their was condemned to death. He eyes, and still others he sold provincial governor - named "one-foot" after he ships, administrative posts cut off one of their feet. In in the city, and he even sold addition to this, he mur- results in lawsuits. Finally, dered many other persons, to show his impartiality, some because he didn't like even his top city officials their garments or manner of were either poisoned or in- dress, others were slain troduced to the point of his because they appeared sword after a few months in noble or handsome. At one office. time he even bled men to death with scalpels as he NEXT WEEK: played at being a surgeon. Addio Bastardo Saint Brigid of Ireland (Continued from Page 3) tutions, one for men, and the other for women, and ap- pointed St. Conleth as spiri- tual director of both. She also founded a school of art, including metal work and illumination, over which St. Conleth presided. She also inspired the estab- lishment of religious com- munities in other parts of Ireland. Saint Brigid is considered one of the most notable Irishwomen of the fifth century and as the Patron- ess of Ireland. She is lovingly called the "Queen of the South: the Mary of the Gael". She passed away in the year 523. Saint Brigid is the Patroness of Dairy Workers; her feast day is celebrated on February I. Leave the DELIVERY to Us[ With a Gift Subscription to the Post-Gazette, your generosity will be remembered every week of the year. We'll send the recipient an announcement of your gift. Their subscription will begin with the current issue and continue for one year. 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