1000 years after the fall of Rome, around Marco Polo’s time, Venice became the center of the world. Mostly because of its location. They competed with the Turks and traded goods between East and West. Merchants became millionaires and built villas all over the province of Venice. Yet now, there are just as many visitors as real venetians. The city is a museum. (That wasn’t even all that good.)
According to my colleague and friend, Chioggia is the little Venice you’ve never heard of. After visiting, I think its the real Venice.
No advertisements for gondola rides. Only signs of real Italian life here.
And Spritz served by the same bartender year after year.
My colleague was friends with the bartender too, so the spritz was on the house.
The bartender called this guy with a proud Roman tattoo the Playboy. You can probably guess why.
Good time friends.
In a city that looks just like Venice.
With the “best gelato in Chioggia” according to our bartender friend who also owned an ice cream stand. I asked for an ice cream scoop. He gave me 3. With whipped cream. (Is it possible to overdose on gelato?) He was very friendly, like most Italians outside of big cities. (More so if you insist on speaking Italian to them.)
Colorful buildings at dusk. My colleague was nice enough to let me wander taking photographs of his city.
I still can’t believe this is his home. Far from casual.
He’s friends with everyone. This man runs a restaurant in his home. He’s an artist so he adorns his home with various mixed media.
I was also told he was one of the nicest men in Chioggia. When people are done with their dinner and ask how much the dinner was he says they can pay whatever they feel it was worth. Or if he enjoyed their company, he says pay me next time.
We continued along the port until we found a nice spot near a school. We sat and talked about fish while I did some long exposures. (Hard to get your mind off of fish when that’s all you can smell.) I learned there are no alligators in Italian waters. But plenty of octopus.
It was around 11:30pm and this fisherman was preparing to go out to sea. Seafood in northeast Italy is always said to be “fresh” by waiters. And now I believe it.
With a live band playing soft rock. These guys sang Coldplay with an Italian accent. The live music must’ve seemed exotic to them. (I was kind of surprised by how many people sang along. But even more enthused by them playing from a boat.)
We stayed out all night. This was the night I was introduced to bresaola – the most AMAZING prosciutto I had ever had up till then. It is aged 2 years until the meat turns a deep red. It’s layered with lemon juice and paired with cheese and wine. I found this stuff at the supermarket so now I have it for lunch. Prosciutto is this mix of cooked and raw cold cuts that I don’t fully understand. Most of the time I don’t ask what I’m eating. But I had to know what this stuff was. I want to ship some to my father, who would love it.
Riding back home. Only 30 minutes from Chioggia to Piove di Sacco. (Unless your driver likes to speed past cars and trucks at 100km/hr.)
Chioggia recycles. But my favorite part of this photo is the laundry hanging in the mirror. (The entire alley smelled like fresh laundry!)
A happy motorbiking traveler.