Moon over Toscana 2011


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And so it begins again Dear Hearts,
and innocent bystanders..

Casa d'Chaos is finally back to some semblance of order, well... almost, but  just to re-cap:
  • 2007 Featured a Walk on the Great Wall of China, then Uncle Chuck's bout with Cancer - The 2006 planned kitchen renovation gets placed on hold. [Chucky 1 - Cancer 0!!]
  • 2008 The kids and 1 baby move home as Greg starts a new Job, & on July 10th... Charlie arrives! Household head count up to 7! Renovation on indefinite hold,  sooo... WTF - MEDCRUISE 2008!!
  • 2009 Illy's retirement kicked off the Dragon Lady Does America Tour with NOWAT-ALASKA 2009 & a great visit with The Scintillating Sedlik's in Seattle. Oh... and one offspring out - head count now 6.
  • 2010 FINALLY... with the Greg, Cristina & kids in Colombia for a month, the Minor Kitchen renovation turns into a Major renovation of Casa d'Chaos - the Dragon Lady's most Excellent Milestone Birthday Partaaaay christens the new Kitchen and another offspring comes home -     head count back to 7.
  • 2011 The Kids and their brood move to a rental, leaving one offspring in the Green Room, now referred to as THE REFUGE - head count 3!! The Dragon Lady now commuting on Permanent GrandMa duty.
  • And... last but not least - December 5, 2011 will mark 25 years of Marital Bliss [?!?] for Uncle Chuck and the Ever-Lovely Dragon Lady, and you know what that means...

Yup... as the title notes, on September 20th we're
Off to Tuscany 
to celebrate our 25th Anniversary with a romp around the mother country. [It's too damn cold in Northern Italy to go in December] We fly to Venice then drive to Lake Garda, Verona, Bologna, Lucca, Siena, Greve in Chianti and the Cinque Terra, along with several other day trips to vineyards, villas, borgos and wherever, from a  cute villa on a hilltop at Il Pianaccio [ßLink] a little Agriturismo in Northern Tuscany run by a chef Chucky knows and lastly, maybe a train ride through the Alps to St Moritz [or... maybe not] before flying back from Milan on October 5th. {Wheeewww - I'm outta breath just thinkin' about it!}

As, itineraries solidify and the trip proceeds or whenever Chucky gets bored, we'll send a ***NOWAT ALERT***. Or... if you just need a break from your boring game of 麻將 [MahJong], you can check this blog periodically for our latest Girare-U [u-turn].

Sooooo... grab a favorite beverage, sit back, put your feet up and Gustare Toscana with The Wacky American Tourist and the Ever-Lovely Dragon Lady.
We promise you... it will be ANYTHING but Boring.
Until then...

Ciao 4 Now,

Chuck and the "Glad He Finally Picked a Damn Date", Dragon Lady

9.13 - Agenda

So... here we are - 7 days from lift off  - and I'm still trying to get this #@&)%¥*?!/€ agenda worked out.
I still have some days without Scheduled Chaos and that's probably a good thing, and still no place to sleep on Monday-2 Oct, but there's gonna be a lotta Fine Wine, Sharp Cheese and Great Crusty Bread along the way with a few  blisters from all the walking planned.
Of course Dragon Chick is still working on wardrobe, there aren't enough "Que Cute Capris" or "Darling Blouses"  in the world... [or at least Aventura Mall] that fit her idea of a proper carefree wardrobe for Tuscany, and let's not EVEN get started about shoes!!!
I on the other hand have enough polos, kahkis, and shorts to make it 8 days before we do laundry. Good, right?  Ok...Ok, Guys definitely have it easier. [I'm really trying for the 2 smaller bags and a light carry-on...]
Oh wellllll - Thats why they call it L U G G A G E!

Back to the agenda:
  • Tuesday's flight lands us in Venice on Wednesday [thats what you get for flying against the sun].
  • Three days later we grab a car and head to Lake Garda for an overnight and a little sightseeing.
  • Sunday  we stop by Verona for a walk about in Romeo & Giulietta's neighborhood [yeah Giulietta is the right spelling she was Italian after all] along with some light history before we head south to our cute "Villa on a Hilltop" in Montale at Agriturismo Il Pianccio for a week of day trips starting with:
  • Monday- A visit to Pinocchio's mountain top home town - Collodi,  then a bike tour around the walled city of Lucca, dinner in Viareggio or wherever
  • Tuesday- A very early run south to Siena for a "Thrreeee Houuur Tourrrrr" [OK... its not Gilligan's Island] before a race north to Castello Verrazano  for a vineyard tour, tasting, lunch and then off to San Gimignao for whatever.
  • Wednesday- Helloooo Firenze - for a full day, Mercato San Lorenzo [maybe a new hat], The Uffizi, a Renaissance Walk, petting Il Porcellino, Dinner at Da i 5 Amici and more.
  • Thursday- More wineries, Sharp Cheeses, Crusty Breads starting at Tenuta Capazana, with lunch at Il Falcone, then off to Fattoria Artimino before finding some place else to get lost on the way home.
  • Friday - [part of the dilemma] maybe Bologna and Modena for Cheese and Prosciutto factories
  • Saturday- [More dilemma] but maybe just a day of rest
  • Sunday - off  to Lerici on the coast for an overnight and a boat ride or maybe a  hike to the Cinque Terre
  • Monday- [Still more Dilemma and still no place to sleep] but maybe Parma and Cremona or whatever
  • Tuesday- gets us to Milan to dump the car and an overnight before our flight out Wednesday.  Perhaps a quick stroll around Itlay's Fashion and Financial capital, a gaze at  Da Vinci's Last Supper and then our own Last Supper in Bella Italia.
Yeah... still a work in progress but "Oh What Fun!!!"
I'm pooped already and we haven't even left!!

More preparation Drama to Follow.

Ciao 4 Now
 Uncle Chuck  & the still trying on Capri's, Blouses & Shoes,  Dragon Lady

    9.18 - It Begins ?!?


    “Oh Chucky… Where’s my…?”
           Wait for it folks...
    “It’s not packed yet dear.”
    “You don’t even know what I’m asking about!”
           Wait for it…
    “What you always ask about at this stage of the
        ‘in the bag, outta the bag’ ritual…”
    “Ok Mr Smarty pants…WHAT?”
          Here it comes…
    “Your Blow Dryer.”
    “Uh…Yeah… Right…Where is it?”
    “Not Packed Yet.”
    That was simple enough.

    Yeah… it’s the Packing Ballet, danced to “Ole Time Rock ’n’ Roll” by Bob Seger. 
    She takes it outta the closet… puts it on the bed - I pack it… 
    She takes it outta the bag and puts it back in the closet... 
    'cause it ain't “Que Cute” enough... 
    or THE SHOES don't match!  W T F!!!

    This has been going on for most of the day and as usual, its all her stuff not yet packed.       Mine-----------à
    was packed yesterday

    The fun thing about watching the Dragon Lady sort stuff for a trip is that the Goodwill Bag gets fuller. The not so fun thing is that it means another trip to the mall ‘cause now she’s... 
    Trips to the Mall = 6... so far.

    And as luck would have it, while picking up a Michelin Italian Road Atlas out in Pembroke Pines she discovers that there’s a DSW Shoes next door and of course… she needs to stop in to look for more shoes, Nawww… Really?!?  It was not to be.  However... not only did I score a pair of DockSiders to replace ones painted during Renovation, but stumbled on a pair of ECCO sandals at 70% off.  
    Net result, Chucky 2 pairs of shoes, Dragon Lady 0!  
    Go figure.

    After racing home to watch the GrandKids for 2 hours, we're now off to Aventura in the evening for... you guessed it, SHOES.  

    3 hours later we're headed for home with, 2 pairs of leggings, a new blouse and... NO SHOES!!!

    Ok... so now here I am puttin' it all in the Bag..---à
    she's taking it outta the bag - and the beat goes on,
    “... Still like that old time rock 'n' roll 
    The kinda music just soothes the soul 
    I reminisce about the days of old 
    With that old time rock 'n' roll...”
    Stay tuned for the usual departure Chaos 'cause you there's gonna be some... 
    Hell -  she may have to go out for MORE SHOES....

    Ciao 4 Now
    Uncle Chuck  & The still needs more shoes,            
    Dragon Lady
    Heading for Fine Tuscan Wine, Aged Sharp Cheese & Great Crusty Bread

    9.19 - Who's Driving Who?!?

    I just had to get this one off before the regular "Departure Riff" which is usually written on the plane after I unwind, but this was too good to let go till then.

    Have you ever felt like you just stepped into a comedy time warp?
    I did around about Midnight when Greg called from work for an update on tomorrow's transportation rodeo and I felt like I had just been swallowed up by an old Abbot and Costello Baseball bit.  
    After she hung up, it went something like this:

    “Ok Babe, so NOW what’s the game plan, isn’t Greg taking us?”
    “Well, no… maybe… well ok, no.”
    “So who’s taking us”
    “Well, I have to take the babies to School, and then I was going up to get Henry and…”
    “Wait, Henry’s taking us? I thought that Greg was, in the van.”
     “Welllll, yes and no, ya see Brian’s staying home sick and Cristina…
    “Stick to the subject… Who’s taking us, and in what car?”
    “I'm getting to that, sorta… ya see, Cristina can’t drive Stick…”
    “Yeah, I know. And...???”
    “Greg has the kids and needs the van, so she takes my car and..."
    “What's with Henry, is he taking us to the airport?”
    “No, he’s coming down to see that car Andres is selling, and…”
    “So, WHO”S TAKING US TO THE AIRPORT and in what car?!?!?!"

    This went on for 20 minutes Dear Hearts.  Finally I find that:
    Cristina is taking Dragon Chick’s car [which was supposed to be at the mechanic's today for a list of fix-its while we’re outta town] because she cant drive Greg's stick shift and due to their screwy schedules, their van has to go in for repairs tomorrow; Soooo... the Mercedes repair schedule has been bumped to Wednesday.  
    Greg is now going pick up Henry who is buying a new [used] car from Greg's future brother in law and has nothing to do with the airport.  
    Brian is sick, but she has declaired that HE will take us to the Airport in his car.  
    Who has the Babies is still up in the air, as I certainly hope WE will be by 4:40pm tomorrow!
    Then again, we could have another round of Who’s On First… Casa d’ Chaos style.

    Oh and... of course this afternoon she just had to run out for more "Last Minute Things" [mall run # 8] and comes back with a bag full of stuff and guess what else... SHOES!!!
    And of course... now we we're back to the "in the bag, outta the bag" thing until 9pm.

    My head is spinning on this one and we haven’t even started the guaranteed Departure Chaos… but it's off to a good start.

    More to follow… I'm going for some aspirin.

    Ciao 4 Now
    Uncle Chuck & the four car shuffle,  Dragon Lady
    Anxious to get on to the  Fine Tuscan Wine, Aged Sharp Cheese & Great Crusty Bread

    9.20 - Tuesday - Chaos Part I

    As promised and expected… Chaos reigns… this is the call I got at 1230PM today.

    “Buon Girono Signore Mercurio, Io sono, er…perdon, This is Allberto Castaluccci from Alitalia Airlines.  We call to advise that your flight, AZ631 to Roma has been rescheduled.”

    WHAT…HOW… WHENer Como, Cose, Quando???”
    “Not to worry Signore Mercurio, all is well; the flight will depart this evening at 2215 hours, that is, 10:15PM EST arriving in Roma at 4:00PM CET Wednesday 21 Settembre…”

    “Six Hours LATE!!! Ok… But I have a connecting Flight to Venice at 10:00AM, what now?”
    “Not to worry Signore Mercurio, all is well, we have re-booked you on a later flight AZ1479 at 1600, perdon… 4:00PM from Roma, arriving in Venezia at 5:05PM CET."

    “Is that enough time to make the connection?  I know that it arrives in Roma at Terminal 3 and Domestic Flights leave from Terminal 1, do I have to go through passport control in Roma? If not, how do I get from 3 to 1?
    “No Signore, you will go through Controle Passaporte in Venezia, they will direct you to the bus to take you to terminal 1”

    "And... I had a 2PM meeting with our Tour Guide in Venice...
    "We apologize for the inconvenience Signore Mercurio, perhaps you can call and reschedule with them?"
    “I'll Have to Call now...Why is the flight delayed?”
    “Maintenance Signore Mercurio.”

    “What’s wrong with the Plane?!?!?” 
    Chirps the Dragon Lady who has just walked in on the conversation.
    “I’ll tell you in a minute,” I whisper...
    “Scusi Signore???”
    “Not you, Alberto, mia moglie chiede che cosa sta accadendo. . Now, tell me about this maintenance.”
    Not to worry Signore Mercurio… all is well, just routine.”

    “Routine??? Why didn’t they do it at the routine time?”
    “It was just noticed on Landing in Miami, Signore”
    “Just noticed?!?!?! What is so critical that it takes 6 hours???”
    Not to worry Signore Mercurio, you're flight will leave on time.”
    “1015PM is NOT on time…"
    Not to worry Signore Mercurio….

    NOT TO WORRY!!!!  
    6 hours repairs for something “Just Noticed on Landing” and I'm Not To Worry!!!
    Does he know who he’s talking to?  

    I thank Alberto and promptly call Alitalia call center to confirm that I have not been punked by a sadistic friend who just knows that in the tradition of the LATE GREAT Doug Sidewand, [may God Rest his Happy SoulI am the Patron Saint of Perpetual Worry!

    The Lovely Sammy at Alitalia customer service confirms Alberto is real, all is true and re-confirms the flight #s and books new seats on the connection to Venice.

    And... the Chaos around the TRANSPORT RODEO just keeps getting better… don’t get me started.
    Since the flight delay, and Brian is getting sicker, it’s a toss up as to who takes us to the airport, in what car and when.
    AND…Henry, who of course was picked up early anticipating our 4pm flight decides during the wait that he and Greg should go look at the car… only to find that it hasn’t arrived yet either!  So they're back and now we have: 
    2 cranky babies who have missed their nap and a frazzled Papa is about to go re-construct their GeoTrack Train set [for the 5th time in a week] just to unwind with ALL THIS CHAOS!

    More to follow… More aspirin too or maybe a little Scotch… no, Make that A Lot of Scotch

    Ciao 4 Now
    Uncle Chuck & the anxiously pacing the floor,  
    Dragon Lady
    Craving Fine Tuscan Wine, Aged Sharp Cheese & Great Crusty Bread

    9.20 - Tuesday- Chaos Part II

    What would a NOWAT  adventure be without just a little Departure CHAOS???  Hell, it’s right in tune with the past 3 days. It just doesn't involve shoes… yet.

    After the call from Alitalia, we spent the afternoon, OK… Dragon Lady spent the afternoon playing with the kids, feeding the crowd and altogether relishing having all 3 of her boys… ok 5 counting the babies, all to herself for awhile.  Chucky took care of last minute business,  penned the last NOWAT and after calling Alitalia for one last status report, around 6PM rallied the troops for the dreaded trip to MIA

    As reported in the Last Transmission from Casa d’ Chaos, the boys were doing Rock, Paper, Scissors for the honor [don’t smirk René] of delivering us to MIA.  Enter Chucky:

    “Ok… its 6:30, we need to head out, Alitalia says to be 3 hours early, it will be brutal due to the delay, I figure 2hours by the time you guys quit arguing, so who lost?”
    “Brian,” snickered Greg, “He aint ready  - but he’s going.”
    “What car?”
    “The van, “instructs the Dragon Lady. [Brian had previously declared that all the bags wouldn’t fit in his little car]
    “I'll get the bags,” I mumble as I grab the 2 rollers, the computer bag, Illy’s carry on, the camera bag, 2 neck pillows, 2 jackets, 2 books, an iPad and a partridge in a pear tree… OK, no bird or tree, but that’s why they call it LUGGAGE!

    “Papa you can’t go… I will be sad” cries David, rolling over on the bed and hiding his head… just ripping my heart out.
    “Mia Bambino… Papa Loves you, don’t be sad… Papa will bring you something from Italy.”
    “PRESENTS!!!… For me Papa?  Oh YEA PAPA… I'll be happy for you,” screams my little materialist in training.

    Charlie on the other hand could care less about Papa leaving, as long as he can be permanently attached to Abuela - who is already having apoplectic withdrawals at the thought of no babies for 2 weeks.

    As I wrangle the LUGGAGE and head for the van, David demands to help but backs off after trying to lift a 40 pound bag. [I do pack tightly] Just after I wrestle two bags into the side door, one into the rear and the carry-ons in the baby seats, she starts to mount our carriage when Brian rambles out and announces:
    “We’re taking My car!”
    SAY WHAT???
    “What the hell was all that Rock, Paper, Scissors about, and why did you let me load the van before changing THE Plan? You told me it all wont fit in you car.  My recollection is that it was the van all along, now what?”
    “I didn’t know you were loading the van but I aint driving that thing to Miami, I'll make it fit in my car,” as he unloads 2 golf bags, a gym bag, a bag of dirty cloths, numerous empty water bottles and a partridge in a…. OK again…. no bird.  But lots of stuff!

    Mumbling selective curses under my breath [David is right there] I drag theLUGGAGE outta the van and LUG them to his now miraculously SPACIOUS trunk, throw the rest in the back seat and prepare for the painful drive to MIA looking for Grandma who is nowhere to be found… Oh there she is… trying to extricate herself from Charlie and David who now have death grips on each leg.  After hugs and kisses, and more hugs and kisses and prying a now unhappy Charlie from her leg, we load a grumbling Henry and the babies into Greg’s car and they head off to Greg’s house to wait for news of Henry’s missing car.

    I'll spare you the running dialogue of Chucky trying to direct the most expedient route to MIA, finally giving up and settling in for the ride with a hacking and wheezing Brian.

    Somehow, we find MIA, right where it has always been; run the gauntlet of ill mannered Miami drivers and arrive at Alitalia unscathed.  
    HEY LOOK…. No crowds… Fancy that!!!

    We roll the LUGGAGE up to the ticket counter, and after apologizing for the delayed flight, due to lightning damaged navigational gear forcing the original flight back to Roma for a plane change, the delightful Alitalia Agent is so  charmed with Chucky trying his fuzzy Italian she books them better seats on the Roma to Venezia flight, wishes them Buono Viaggio, Buono Vacazione,  Bouno Anniversario and Buono ….
    Ok Grazie Mille… enough Buono’s lets find gate J11.

    God smiled on the Dragon Lady [and a little past experience didn’t hurt] as she left the bangles etc in the LUGGAGE and breezed through security without setting off all the bells and alarms this time.  Chucky on the other hand, after striping everything into the bins and getting naked [Ok… just bare foot and hatless] strolls through the gate and all hell breaks loose!

    ‘Step back sir and try again… is everything out of your pockets?’
    “Ooopppssss” blushes Chucky forgot the money clip.” [Ok do you really think he was blushing?]
    “Put it through the machine sir.”

    So he throws it in a bowl and into the machine hoping the scanner doesn’t catch the small nail file and knife in the money clip which does double duty replacing a mini-Swiss Army key chain clippers/knife/nail file confiscated long ago in a trip to North Carolina.  It was 1½ inches long, for Cryin’ out loud….

    Now safely through the gate, he rushes to help Dragon Chick wrangle all the stuff off the scanner belt when the TSA scanner dude comes up with a scowl on his face and the money clip in the bowl.
    “Money Clip?” He asks.
    Uh-Oh, Chucky thinks, Busted!!
    But no… he just hands the bowl to Chucky, annoyed that he had to get off his stool to deliver it.
    Whew…. Close call.

    A quick bite at the Corona Grill and Bar [We really shoulda known better] adds a load of unwanted grease to our digestive tracks… just what we need on a 9 hour flight… and after a quick charge of her iPhone, we’re ready for boarding… of course, Alitalia is not. 
    Ok, it was just a short wait, and we were quickly loaded into the trans-Atlantic flying cigar tube [an aging 767-300 – no seatback TV & mixed up light controls!!!] and waited as we taxied 15 minutes to the far western end of the runway for our eastward launch across the pond to Bella Italia.

    Hey, the day coulda been much worse, but it wasn’t and 
    Now where’s that flight attendant with the red wine… 
    Did I mention, I just LOVE flying Alitalia... 

    Ciao 4 Now,
    Uncle Chuck & the missing the babies already 
    Dragon Lady
    Soooo ready for Fine Wine, Sharp Cheese and Great Crusty Bread.

    9.21 - Wednesday Ciao Venezia

    Oh, where shall I begin Dear Hearts and innocent bystanders…

    “OK… Wherezitat, I know I had it in the pocket with our Passports and now its not”
    “Look again, I know you have it… I saw you put it in your pocket, and you gave me a look when I put mine in my ID packet.”
    “It  Aint here… maybe its in with the other receipts… wait… I cant find them either!!!”
    “Ok… think... what did you do after we got on the Vaporetto?”
    “I lugged 2 roll ons, 1 Computer case, 2 coats…
    “Stop with the LUGGAGE crap… what did you…. Oh wait… when you gave the hotel the passports did you drop it then?”
    “I’ll go down and see… [3 minutes later] Nope, not there, looked all around and the clerk never saw it.”
    “Ok… It’ll turn up, now lets go eat and we'll think of where it might be.

    Yeah, still more DRAMA!!!, But lets start with the flight.

    I love flying Alitalia.  The service, the personnel, the overall style and ambiance is so spot on… not to mention the free flowing wine… the only issue is that they are flying older aircraft on the MIA to FCO run and it is beginning to show. {later found out the newer planes are on the MIA to MXP run}
    Case in point.  My seat was so hard that trying to find a comfortable angle to catch some zzzzzzzz’s was impossible; my light switch, was on her arm rest against the bulkhead [I was in an Aisle seat] and with no seat back Video Screens, trying to watch the in flight movie on small drop down screens sparingly placed over the aisles gives you eye strain. But all in all, the flight was uneventful.

    Arrival at FCO [Aeroporto Leonardo da Vinci –Fiumicino Airport] was another story.  Any other place, you pull up to the jet way at whatever gate you arrive and walk off the plane into the terminal.  Unfortunately, when landing in Rome… you're still in the 20th century and you de-plane down the old stairs to the ground, board a bus and drive another mile to the terminal, and then… trek another mile following the “transiti” signs [Transit] from Terminal 3 [International Arrivals] to Terminal 1 for domestic connections, stopping to line up for Passport control [they told it this wouldn't happen till Venice] and then getting in line for another security check behind "an extremely basic fundamentals of flying challenged " Greek tour group, just to get to the sterile zone, where Chucky gets stopped because they don't like his travel sized Right Guard spray, but relent and send them racing for gate J11 alllllll the waaaaayyyyy at the eeeennnnndddd of terminal 1.  We have just walked another mile.
    The connection is late in boarding so we have enough time to charge Dragon Lady’s iPhone… [the battery is really dying - and of course she let her battery service plan expire], grab a quick cafe, add an international data plan to her phone in case we need to access Google Maps, and we’re ready to board the puddle jumper to Venezia.

    Another uneventful 50 minute flight, only to again land at the other end of Marco Polo Aeroporto, de-plane down steps to another bus to the terminal. 
    Baggage retrieval was non eventful and we headed to the ATVO counter to get our prepaid VENEZIA EXPRESS bus tickets to Piazzale Roma, and the ACTV desk  for the 72 hour transportation/Vaporetto [water bus]Tickets .
    We find the Bus easily and are at "Ple. Roma" in 25 minutes. 

    A quick pic on the bridge to the Train station [only in Italy do they build a bridge from the train station to the main transport area with STEPS. [Rolling luggage takes a beating here.] 
    and we find vaporetto 61, swipe our passes on the card reader and just make it to the vaporetto as it heads to Lido, the island in the lagoon SE of Venice proper where we will stay for the next 3 nights.

    Nice 30 mnute boat ride, only 6 stops till Lido, a short drag of the "LUGGAGE" down Via Santa Maria Elizbetta to Hotel Cristallo a quaint, very European 3 star hotel with a very small lobby, minimalist decor - over a shoe store {how fitting} and Tavalo Caldo [Caffe shop with snack food]  which causes a little confusion on how to get inside the HOTEL until the Dragon Lady finally spots it on the side not facing the main drag, where the desk clerk declares that they have been waiting all day for us… Tough pal… we were waiting  all day to get here. 
    Up 3 steps to the mini-elevator - 2 people 2 roll-ons, 2 carry ons…etc… just fit and we find a nice corner room with a noisy ceiling fan and broken a/c overlooking the main drag and happy club across the street.  Really though, not bad location, and its cool enough with an open window we don’t need the a/c or fan. [it got so cold later that SoFla raised, thin blooded Chucky had to close the window... you northern types probably won't get that.]

    About the time they are preparing to run out for a bite is when Chucky discovers that he can't find the 72 hour transportation pass, that he so cleverly booked online for a significant discount and hence the opening dialog.  
    Chaos prevailed as he tore the room apart to no avail.  Bottom line, we'll have to buy another one in the AM after we meet our Guide for the back alley walking tour.

    By now its 8PM and we really need to eat.  The night clerk recommends a quaint little spot off the beaten path, Ristorante Andri, famous for its fish.  This is were Dragon Lady makes a mistake in ordering baked Branzino not realizing that, in Italy, she will be served a fish that stares back at her.  She just hates that, but trooper that she is, and thanks to Chef Gordon Ramsey [she is a Hell’s Kitchen Devotee] she expertly de-bones her own fish, which was cooked perfectly. 
    The perky blonde German next to us saw the fish and had to ask her what it was, so Dragon Chick pointed it out on the menu and was royally peeved when the waiter offered to de-bone if for the blonde, but never offered to do it when he served DL.  Chucky’s Frito Misto de Mare, fried calamari, octopus, langostinos, sardines and clams was also excellent as was the house wine and a Fabulous Creme Torte with creme fresh [really an Italian Napoleon]

    This is also when anal Chucky decides that the Canon pocket camera case is mis-aligned, and decides this is what was causing it to be a little balky, so he decides to effect repairs with the afore mentioned money-clip knife combo, only to really bollix it up and now we’re down to 1 camera, and no backup.   Oh wellll it was on its way out anyway, that’s why she got the new digital for the trip.

    A leisurely stroll back to Hotel Cristallo, an internet search to replace the lost transit ticket [too late… gotta buy it at the dock] and email follow ups with a balky internet connection and jet-lag took its toll.

    Thursday is the Walking tour of Venice, so an early start will put the weary twosome to the test.  Pictures are soon to follow, as soon as we can sort and upload.

    Ciao 4 Now
    Uncle Chuck & the She told you to be careful with the ticket,  Dragon Lady
    Finally enjoying Fine Tuscan Wine, Aged Sharp Cheese & Great Crusty Bread