July 9, 2009
Today we managed to have more or less real conversation in class. Using a free newspaper called "Leggo," we read and talked about Google's new broswer based on Chrome. We also talked about cares versus public transportation, Florence and Siena (especially the Palio), and holidays. Will and I both needed help with words and constructions but we were able to more or less have actual conversations that weren't confined to to names, ages, jobs and where we live. So that was some progress.
After class we went home for lunch and did some reading before going out again. We finally broke down and got The International Herald Tribune, so we have some news to read. Peter did some homework. He has homework every day. I kind of create some homework on my own by practicing some things.
Then we went off to check email, etc. That's when I found out the good and the bad news. The good news is that everything is ok at home except that I guess it has been very rainy again. The bad news is that evidently we are supposed to have vouchers for the barge and bike which either weren't sent or were sent after we left for Europe so we are now waiting to hear from the tour operator about what we are supposed to do. Also, the bike accident I had been hearing about on email from home turned out to be about a friend of mine who has had to have surgery and will need to have more surgery and a long recovery. Not that I can do anything from here. I will have to call when I get home and see if there is anything I can do like visit, etc.
We have noticed that the free internet service that Venetians are supposed to be able to use is not really available all over Venice. You can find it in some hot spots, but it there are a lot of places where it does not reach at all. My guess is that it will take a while for the city to be able to provide a widespread signal. Not that it matter for noncitizens like us but it is interesting to see how it develops.
The Lido was more interesting than I expected. Our only other experience there was visiting the Jewish cemetary last summer. This time we took a walking tour with someone who was born on the Lido, although he now lives in Mestre. He teaches at the Dante Società and at Ca' Foscari and his parents still live on the Lido but it is too expensive for younger people to live there. We saw an interesting Art Nouveau hotel that had been beautifully restored, some really fancy private beaches as well as the public beach, and sites that house the film festival. The cabanas on the private beaches can run €30 million for prime spots. Evidently families and friends will club together buy even the less expensive ones.
This is also where the first stage of the Giro d'Italia was held this year, which was the team time trial. We saw a lot of bikes since the Lido is the one place in Venice where you can ride a bike or drive a car or take a bus. You could see the MOSE project in the distance. When it is finished, the project is supposed to be a gate-like system that would keep Venice from having the most terrible aqua alta flooding. It would only work in the case of really serious high water, however, so it would not eliminate the phenomenon altogether. Unfortunately the definition of high water would still put Piazza San Marco under water in many cases since it is lowest spot in Venice.
At the end of our walk we stopped for a drink and conversation, looking out over the beach and water. Then we took the bus back to the pontile and the vaporetto back to San Tomà.