House of Venini

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In our last post, I promised pictures of the most outstanding feature of our new apartment – the amazing glass.

Our apartment is called “Venini.”  We did not understand the significance of that when we booked.  When we arrived, we discovered absolutely beautiful glass sculptures, vases, and bowls.  Most of it is under lock and key.  We were mesmerized.

We met the owner (he dropped by with the Italian plumber after we discovered a leak in the radiator – another story), who proudly told us the glass was from his personal collection and is Venini (a big deal!). 

Venini is one of the oldest and most famous glass families on Murano.  www.venini.com

The Venini Fornace (kiln) was founded by Paolo Venini in 1921.  Since then, they have added other artists to their collection and trained numerous glassmakers, including the American glassmaker, Chihuly.  Their pieces are found in opera houses, museums, and hotels all over the world. 

And every day we get to wake up to our own personal gallery!

Then there is my favorite art installation. 

Do you see it?  The balloon? 

It is glass and hangs by an invisible thread from the ceiling. 

The owner told me it is a Di Marchi (another big deal!). 

Livio Di Marchi is an avante garde artist in Venice, whose designs are whimsical and usually on a large scale.  One of his recent noteworthy ventures was floating a wooden violin-shaped barge down the Grand Canal with a string quartet playing Vivaldi. It was meant to signify the re-birth of Venice after the pandemic. Check out this video:

He did a series of balloons, and a signed De Marchi balloon is rare and no longer for sale.  There are lots of smaller copies in the shops, but we have an original. 

All of this has certainly spiced up my Zoom background on work calls! 

Our Apartment in Venice

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Welcome to our Venetian apartment! 

While our front door may not be as chic as in Paris . . . .

It is what’s inside that counts!

Our living room is huge with a giant TV (Frank will miss this for sure!).

And there is a sunny window seat where I like to work.

We have a comfortable bedroom.

And a very cozy kitchen.

Perfect for cooking pasta and eating in on a cold night.

I also have a desk for Zoom calls.

We have a rooftop deck for aperitivo –

And the pièce de résistance- a crazy cool loft that is filled with stunning, museum-quality Murano glass. 

More on that next time . . . .

Back in Venezia

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We are back in one of our very favorite spots – where we were married 7 years ago and have been back to many times.  During COVID, we dreamed of this day.

We arranged a private water taxi to whisk us from the airport to the dock closest to our house – the San Samuele vaparetto stop. 

The vaparetto stop, on the Grand Canal close to the Accademia Bridge, anchors one end of our street – Salizada San Samuele.

At the other end is a delightful trattoria and alimentari (little grocery store) that has the most amazing pesto fresca (fresh pesto) I’ve ever tasted.  They have a bowl of it and you order by showing with your fingers if you want a poco or molto (more).

Our street is a “salizada” which means a main paved thoroughfare –

This is as opposed to a “calle,” which also dead-ends into our building from a different direction.  

This is our building – we are on the top floor.

Our house number is 3153. 

Each sestiere (district) in Venice numbers its doors in order.  We are in San Marco sestiere.  So the house numbers are not by street, but district.  The address includes the street so you have a place to start.  Our address is Salizada San Samuele, Sestiere San Marco 3153, Venezia. 

On the next blog, I’ll take you inside.  But here’s a view from the top!

Au Revoir Paris!

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We are off to other new adventures.  But first, we bid au revoir to our favorite Tour Eiffel. 

We have loved having a front row seat to her many faces at all times of day – from sunrise to moonlight.

In the fog and rain –

And even when promoting world peace by displaying the colors of the Ukrainian flag . . .

And our favorite – when she sparkles! 

(She sparkles for 5 minutes every hour from sunset to 1 am.)

Until next time, Paris, we will carry you in our hearts.

Angelina Paris

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Today we had the BEST dessert.  It is our last day in Paris, and the grand finale was dessert at Angelina, Paris’ most famous tea room, dating back to 1903 – a favorite of Coco Chanel’s.

It is known the world over for its hot chocolate, which is like a velvety hot pudding.  Also its many dazzling pastries.

But we were here for their signature pastry – the Mont Blanc.

The menu describes it as:

Mont-Blanc is Angelina’s signature pastry.

The recipe was created at the beginning of the 20th century by Angelina pastry chefs and has remained unchanged since.

Crispy and dry French meringue under a smooth creamy dome of light whipped cream, covered by chestnut vermicelli. 

Its shape was apparently inspired by the trending women’s hairstyle at the time: the sleek short square bob.

***

This dessert reportedly was Coco Chanel’s favorite – and now ours, too!

Au revoir Paris.  We have had an amazing month.  A bientot.

Boats & Bateaux

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Today I am just posting pictures of boats.  We are amazed at how many boats go by each day. 

The Seine really is a working river. 

We see the usual dinner cruises.

But also lots and lots of barges, some with cars on top – we aren’t sure how they get them down.  We also see the Paris version of the Coast Guard now and then – called sapeur pompier seine maritime (Seine Fire Brigade).

And of course our favorite Batobus – the water taxi that we take everywhere (we bought the annual pass).

And my favorite – the Alain Ducasse dinner cruise (he’s’ a very famous chef).  We didn’t even know about this one until they went by – will be on our list for next time!

I love sitting at the dining room table working and watching the world go by on the water.

Oldest Café in Paris

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Tonight we had dinner at the oldest café in Paris – Le Procope in St. Germain.  It opened in 1686 and has even served Marie Antoinette! 

Also Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. 

Apparently Napoleon ran up such a large bill that he couldn’t pay, so he left his hat as collateral.  He never did pay his bill, so they still have his hat!  It is on display.

The rooms are beautiful.

They are most known for their beef bourguignon, which they make from the original recipe, which includes foie gras and truffles. 

They serve it in your own personal copper pot, and you spoon it out into a separate bowl.  The meat is so tender you can cut it with a fork.  Heavenly! 

But of course, by all accounts, Marie Antoinette did have good taste.

Behind the Secret Door

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We have a beautiful entry way into our apartment.  There are two sets of codes to get into the building itself.

And an ornate wooden lift to whisk us to the 4th floor.

Along with a wide winding carpeted staircase. 

There is a hushed air throughout – all the way to our massive front door and elegant foyer.

But we noticed this plain door in the kitchen. 

Our greeter had not mentioned it, and it was bolted no less than 5 times!

So I figured it was off limits – many rental units have a closet for the owner’s belongings. 

I thought no more about it . . . until I heard footsteps behind it.

I quietly crept to the door for a better listen and noticed a peephole.  To my surprise, a man was on the other side opening a door across a little hallway!  There must be apartments in the back of this building, too, maybe not as nice since it looked very plain out there.  I was suddenly thankful for the 5 deadbolts.

But then, we had the conundrum of where to take the trash.  I texted the greeter.  Oh – he said – forgot to tell you – there are special keys for the door in the kitchen.  What?  You go out that door and bring the trash to RC.  (RC is the bottom floor – we aren’t sure what it stands for.  Also, in Europe, the bottom floor is 0 – the next floor up is 1.) 

Frank and I finally found the keys and figured out how to unlock all those deadbolts.  It is another world on the other side.  A narrow steep staircase with no carpet, grey doors, and a little functional elevator disguised as a closet.

Our apartment came with a cleaning mid-visit. And wouldn’t you know, our housekeeper magically appeared through this entrance – and disappeared without a word, too! We think there must be a rule that service people must use the back stairs, like Downton Abbey.

Between the back staircase and the courtyard windows (see prior blog), it is a tiny bit spooky.  Probably because I am still reading the murder mystery, which is really good – called “The Paris Apartment.”  So every time we take the trash, one of us stays in the apartment to keep a look-out and make sure the other one gets back in – and we both have our phones on.  We don’t know exactly where these back stairs lead!  Our Paris adventure.

My Paris Office

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It is Monday morning – the start of the work week for me.  Yes, I am working remotely while here.  I’ll show you around.

Here is my favorite place to start the day –

We are 6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, so it is quiet and I can get a lot done. And I love watching the boats go by on the Seine. 

Eventually, the East Coast wakes up, so I move to the study for my Zooms.

And since we are 6 hours ahead, I sometimes have to work after dinner on last-minute projects due by COB East Coast time.  By then, we have turned the study back into the TV room (we are hooked on Sky News and BBC right now), so I move to the kitchen for a little quiet and better light.

But – notice there are no curtains!  This window looks out onto a courtyard where we can see all the other apartments, most who don’t have curtains either. 

I am reading a book about a murder in a Paris apartment where the other residents could see comings-and-goings through the courtyard windows like this.  (I probably should have waited until we got home to start this book!)

Oh – and notice that door in the kitchen?  I’ll tell you what’s behind that in my next blog.  It took us a week to figure it out!