We all feel a little sad as we drive down the steep road/path, away from La Posta di Confine for the last time. But we are on our way to Venice, so our spirits don’t sink too low. We wind through Umbria’s hills and tunnels on our way to the coast road, which turns out to be one lane each way, jammed with monster trucks and the occasional tractor that slows forward progress to a crawl. The long causeway leading to Venice is a very welcome sight!
We say good bye to our friends at Piazza Roma and buy our vaporetto week’s passes. The boat is packed, but we squeeze on and soon we’re gliding down the Grand Canal. Thirteen stops to ours – St. Maria di Giglio (St. Mary of the Lilly), the Hotel Ala and a refreshing shower before heading to our dinner reservation at Co Vino. We maneuver our way off the boat and follow others pulling their suitcases down a very narrow alley. It ends in a lovely square and, yes, there is the Hotel Ala. Looking good. I give our names at the desk. The receptionist looks at his computer screen. “Could you have booked under another name?” My stomach sinks. No. And we’ve had these reservations since April. “Ah,” he says. “Those reservations were cancelled by Booking.com.” Not believing my ears, I pull out the email confirmation. “Yes, Signora, but when your credit card didn’t work they sent you two emails and then cancelled the reservation.” True, we have a new card issued when someone tried to use ours, but we’ve checked email daily. Nothing from Booking.com except an email a week ago wishing us a wonderful stay in Venice.
I’m sure the look on my face says it all. “I will call around,” he says. He does, and there is, apparently, no unbooked room in Venice. It’s also the weekend of George Clooney’s wedding, but he can’t have bought up every room in the city. I see pity on the receptionist’s face as he hangs up after the last call. “Madam, there is nothing.” He sighs. “You are not the first person this has happened to. I have one tiny room for tonight only. It has a French bed.” I have no idea what that means, but we’ll take any shelter he can offer. “Come to the desk tomorrow morning. I will see what I can do.” The room is, indeed, tiny, but there’s a shower, a window overlooking a canal and a standard double bed. It looks like heaven to us.
We’re five minutes from Piazza San Marco. The cafe bands are playing as we cross the square at dusk. There are the domes of the cathedral, the Doge’s Palace and the restaurants lining the grand canal, one after another. Co Vino is a tiny (16 seats) slow food restaurant well off the beaten path with a fixed price three course menu (35E). We wind our way through narrow streets, ask a few times, and there it is. A three-person operation with an open kitchen. We have a perfect view of the chef and his assistant. The waiter brings us a glass of Prosecco (organic) and advises on a white wine to start. We feel very smug, as expectant diners come to the door seeking a table, only to be turned away. At least this reservation works. We will live in the present and be thankful. And eat this glorious food.
Oh, and the hotel? The next morning the receptionist says the manager has taken pity on us. He shows us to a lovely room overlooking the Piazza – all ours.