Today I thought I would rewind back to a post I wrote in November of 2014. Our trip to England and Italy that year was truly amazing! We began with a few days in London and then flying to Venice to start our magical journey of Italy. From the sights of the Grand Canal to the sounds of songs coming from Gondolas to the beautiful people we met, Venice was unforgettable. One special person we met was Nonna Lena and below is my memory of that visit.
Our trip to England and Italy were filled with special moments shared with special people who each have a place in my heart. I am always in awe seeing the beautiful sights, but enjoy the feeling when you share your adventure and connect it to a person who made it feel real. I’m never one to pick the best but rather enjoy each chance meeting and reflect on its own unique experience. I have written in earlier posts of how I love Lace and link it to my past from beautiful pieces made by my Grandmother Charlotte. It is so amazing that I would travel to Venice and stay in Hotel Fontana and meet Nonna Lena and feel a connection to memories past. All though she doesn’t speak English and my Italian is limited, we connected heart to heart. Her face is true beauty holding love, appreciation and kindness with every smile.
Nonna Lena is 92 and still comes to Hotel Fontana each day to sit and greet the Guests and make everyone feel like Family. Her Grandson Diego is now in charge of the Family Hotel that was established in 1967. Many years ago it had been a home to a group of German Nuns. While sitting in the lovely reception /bar area I could hear the Church bells from the Duomo in the Square and I was immediately taken back in thoughts of years past. I know I have read too many romance novels and go off on tangents of oohs and aahs but this truly was a magical feeling. While lost in thought a small woman appeared from the back and presented me with a beautiful smile and greeting. Diego introduced Nonna Lena to me and I knew right away I wanted to spend time with her. She held so much warmth in eyes and this is truly the History of Venice to me. A lovely family keeping alive the tradition of a business being created by a wonderful couple and now her Grandson and his cousin are building it for hopefully the next generation. With pride she showed me the painting of she and her Husband Nino that hang on the wall of the reception area. With Diego translateing she told the story of how she and her Husband had owned a Restaurant Da Nino adjacent to the Hotel from 1947 to 1967 when they opened Hotel Fontana. They enjoyed many years working side by side building a wonderful reputation in the Hotel business.
Our room like I’m sure of the others was filled with lovely antiques and a very comfortable bed. They have a lovely Breakfast room and we enjoyed the delicious rolls and buns each morning. They also have traditional hard boiled eggs, yogurt and salami and cheese as well. Breakfast is complete with either a Cappuccino or Café Maciado .
One afternoon Nonna Lena and I were sitting together and she brought out a big book and placed it on the table between us. As she opened it, I could see it contained doilies she had made. I enjoyed looking at the beautiful pieces she had created and she could see how much I liked them and then picked out three pieces and gave them too me. My eyes filled with tears as I felt so special to be given these lovely pieces that of course I will treasure and hand down in my family with this lovely memory as well. One afternoon Nonna Lena and I were sitting together and she brought out a big book and placed it on the table between us. As she opened it, I could see it contained doilies she had made. I enjoyed looking at the beautiful pieces she had created and she could see how much I liked them and then picked out three pieces and gave them too me. My eyes filled with tears as I felt so special to be given these lovely pieces that of course I will treasure and hand down in my family with this lovely memory as well.
Venezia is truly an amazing place to visit with its art, culture and delicious food! From our arrival at the Venice Airport to the Water Taxi to the Hotel and our visits to the Doge Palace, St. Marks Square and the Duomo, we will forever remember this exciting City. I feel like I experienced the best of both Worlds both seeing the beautiful sights, tasting the fine food and leaving with the special Friendship of Nonna Lena that will be laced into my memories.
Like a Bird, my visits in New York keep me flying thru the streets...Uptown, Downtown, Midtown, China Town, Little Italy, the West Village,East Village,Chelsea, Soho ...I cover lots of territory! All of my senses are treated to the best sights, sounds, smell, tastes and yes best of all meeting and sharing conversations with great people!
Alberts Garden above is one of my favorite "secret" places to visit. A Community garden tucked away on the middle of a street that offers some great shade on a sunny day. An inviting place to sit and relax and be treated to the art of nature. From the beautiful plants to a lovely goldfish pond and so many birds to watch creates a serene experience.
Just a few steps from the Garden is one of my favorite stores in New York!
Bonnie Slotnick's Cookbook store. The shop offers cookbooks from every Country and style of cooking there is. In addition she has a selection of vintage dishes and selected home wares. I'm in my glory sitting and browsing the bookshelves and chatting with fellow foodies. The store is charming and on each visit I find something to add to my collection.
Walking through the lower East Side affords the rare opportunity to experience the true mosaic of New York City. This is an area where the immigrants set up neighborhoods and Little Italy and China Town were born. There were also Irish, Polish, Russian and the Jewish community on Delancey Street. This is where you can still find a cobblestone street...to buildings with charming art deco style...and the specialty stores that are trying to keep the old neighborhoods alive. I've spoken to some people that come to New York City, and liken it to a visit to the old country where their family generations began. I love on my visits the chance to walk the Avenue and stop at the Butcher, the bakery, the fish monger, the fruit & vegetable stand...you get the picture! Life for our immigrant Families was good back then when ... Less was more... no mansions, cell phones, computers...rather rubbing elbows with your neighbors, lively conversations, and having coffee with family and friends. Today I walk these streets and enjoy a look back and shop the local stores to support these communities.
As I sat down to write this I thought..... Yet another absence from blogging must be addressed! Well...I just got back from spending six weeks in Manhattan helping my Daughter moving from one apartment to another. An 11 block move sounds simple right? Wrong on all accounts! Less became more with every obstacle from oppressive heat to a triathlon being run while the movers made their way up 11 streets charging by the hour! They were happy as runners held up traffic and everybody clapped and waved except for Stephanie and myself who were ready to pull our hair out!
Once again I can't make up stories like this but we actually ended up at St. Luke's Hospital that night as my Daughter thought she was having a heart attack! Luckily her symptoms that mimicked a heart attack were actually severe dehydration. The Hospital told us they had brought in extra saline anticipating runners being dehydrated with the heat but 5000 fared well while we sat that evening in Emergency. At the time it was scary but we've since been able to laugh how funny it was because picture this.... we come in by cab and they assumed the vintage Parent being me was the patient and I said I'm great it's my daughter! It really was comical when we think back on the moment!
I love her new terrace....alright the fire escape but I like to imagine the Audrey Hepburn movies of years ago in Manhattan and all the funny scenes they shot on fire escapes. You can see across how some buildings do have terraces and again remembering the movie Rear Window and laughing so much!
It truly was a working trip but there was loads of fun time as well. The pictures speak for themselves and the neighborhood is great.
With every move comes the fun of getting acquainted with a new footprint...New York city talk for neighborhood! The Upper West has some great local restaurants and the the Museum and Central Park are a block away. We tried a few eating spots and they're all very good. Friday night Happy hour at Crave offers Clams and Oysters and Senn Thai is sooooo good. The funniest thing is the 50 people who are on line every night for vegan ice cream. This so reminds me of the old "neighborhood" where they would line up for Levain cookies. The first time I saw so many people of all ages lined up...I thought it was either a soup kitchen or casting call for a film being shot!
I really have enjoyed walking around and meeting new store owners and introducing myself as well as picking up Strudel at Zabars for dessert. There are so many more City stories to share, as well as meeting up with old friends and making some new ones too! More to come tomorrow. Talk to you soon...Denise
Welcome to Britalia Way! Thanks for stopping by. Please join me as I share with you a series about food, people and experiences that are special to me. English and Italian traditions are so enticing and were the inspiration for creating Britalia Way!
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