Regatta time on the Grand Canal
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On this trip, it was decided from the start that money was not to be a factor and the world-renowned Gritti, a 15th-century doge's palace, was the choice. Despite its more recent celebrity guests (Hemingway and Elizabeth Taylor, among others), it has managed to maintain its 16th-century charm, interlaced with many 20th-century amenities. Our luxurious high-ceiling room on the Grand Canal was furnished with Empire antiques and boasted an all-marble bathroom. The bill was around $225 a night, but that includes breakfast.Skip to next paragraph
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The arrival in Venice was spectacular, because the Ciga Hotel chain, which owns the Gritti, has its own motor boats at the airport and, if you are a guest, they pile your bags into a boat and zoom you across the lagoon to the Gritti's private dock entrance.
At breakfast the next morning, our waiter informed us that the Gritti would have a pranzo e rinfresco tradizionale for regatta afternoon - a traditional luncheon on the terrace overlooking the Grand Canal so the entire regatta could be viewed comfortably. The menu: Bresavola Gritti Palace (thinly sliced raw beef), Cannelloni alla Sorrentina (the pasta course), Branzino in Bellavista (a delicious local fish), Tournedos Rossini (steak), Souffle Diaccio (dessert). The price: 120,000 lire (around $80) a person. A bargain, considering the fact that grandstand seats in other key positions were selling for as much as $70.
Of course, the waves of boats passed quickly, often in the midst of a delicious course, so I have a more vivid picture of the cannelloni than of the regatta itself.
SECOND HALF OF STORY IS IN QITAL1.
Other fine restaurants where we dined during our Venice feast were Harry's Bar and the Antico Martini. Aside from the crowds of movie people from the Lido, the major attraction at Harry's Bar was a deliciously malicious-looking concoction called ''black rice'' - squids and their ink in rice. A full dinner at Harry's Bar, rated as one of the best restaurants in Venice, comes to around
It was time to leave the feast of Venice. In New York I had reserved a car with Hertz International. I needed an automatic transmission, and the only automatic available was a Ford Grenada with air conditioning. So I confirmed and reconfirmed that reservation before I left New York. But in Venice, when I called Hertz, I was told they did not have any automatic for me. Only after I informed them that I was a travel writer and that I would report this incident truthfully did the firm come through with a Ford Granada.
The plan called for a few days of sightseeing in the hill towns around Florence, Perugia, and Siena. We stayed at a charming little hotel right off the main square of Orvieto, the Virgilio, where we luxuriated in a little bandbox of a $25 room, which actually looked out on the fabulously lit 13th-and 14 th-century cathedral. From Orvieto, we took a number of day trips to such nearby towns as Gubbio, Assisi, and Viterbo.
Since we were anxious to get on down to the Abruzzi area, we decided to start using the autostrade (expressways), which we soon discovered were lovely roads with much more interesting scenery than the regular highways, which tended to pass through mainly industrial areas.
On the Adriatic coast, we stopped for a night in the middle-class seaside resort of Pesaro, the birthplace of the composer Rossini. We had been told that the Da Carlo al Mare is one of the best seafood restaurants on the whole Adriatic coast. It was excellent: Our meal of figs with prosciutto and barbecued prawns came to around $12 a person.