Our stay in Marina Verdura was a great success.
We had all the jobs done on the boat quickly and efficiently and found excellent workmen who came when they said they would and finished the job on time and on budget. So different from those in Kastela. Exotica now looks as good as she ever has with beautiful decks treated with Nano teak technology and new windows in the sprayhood we can actually see through. We even managed to have the cockpit cushions dry cleaned successfully. Unless we find anywhere better I suspect we will be back there for the winter.
Even Julie took her annual trip up the mast to fix the flag halyard.
So after midday on Friday May 27th we set off north, past Pula and through the Brijuni Islands from where Marshal Tito used to rule the old Yugoslavia and entertained heads of state and film stars.
Our destination was the small port of Rovinj, yet another harbour with a hilltop, fortified village and a church at the top.
The Church of Santa Euphemia at Rovinj.
Early the next morning we were alongside the police dock to clear customs and immigration since we were leaving for Italy and though Croatia is in the EU it is not a Schengen country. However, the formalities were minimal and we were on our way back across the Adriatic quicker than we expected.
It was a pristine day but no wind meant that we had to motor all the way to Venice. We did try the sails on a couple of occasions but we wanted to arrive in the Venice lagoon in plenty of daylight since we felt it might be tricky to negotiate the narrow and very busy waterways in any but the best conditions.
It was very exciting to enter one of the world’s top maritime destinations and follow the line of piles watching the chart and the depth sounder.
Luckily we could contact the marina we had booked earlier in the year and they sent a marinero in a dinghy to guide us up the incredibly narrow and shallow canal with every imaginable craft rushing by in both directions and tied up along each side. Julie, at the helm, maintained her sang froid and moored the boat, as always, in an exemplary fashion.
We then sat down to toast our arrival with a prosecco, although shortly after finishing the bottle we decided to move to a different mooring a little closer to the main yard. This was done with even more aplomb.
So Exotica now sits in a dock on the beautiful and tranquil island of Certosa, a mere 15 minute vaporetto ride from St Mark’s Square but a million miles from the hordes of tourists who flock there.
We have been here for twelve days and are finding our way round the city, although one still gets lost in the labyrinth of lanes we are beginning to feel a bit like locals who assure us they, too, sometimes get lost.
Of course we have done the tourist route, such as the Architecture Biennale, where the Australian Pavilion housed a large swimming pool to emphasise the importance of water to the Aussie way of life. Also multiple churches, museums and glass factories.
Murano is an island famous for the production of Venetian glass. Every street and canal on the island is lined on both sides by shops selling the product. We were on a mission to buy Julie some earrings to match a Murano glass necklace bought some years ago in London. Despite the massive profusion of glass artifacts of every conceivable kind it took us 17 shops before we found a match.
We were fortunate to be there on the one day a week that the School of Glassmaking provides an exhibition of the art. There were six massive furnaces full of molten glass pouring out amazing heat into the working space. Nonetheless the skill of the glass-makers shaping this red hot molten material is most impressive.
Also there are plenty of charming restaurants down side streets and in small piazzas where the food is excellent and not outrageously expensive.
We have been joined for five days by Robert Mitchell with whom we attended an opera at La Fenice, a relative rarity by Mascagni – L’Amico Fritz as well as much other sightseeing and some excellent meals.
Our most recent trip has been to the Palazzo Vendramin, one of the most beautiful on the Grand Canal. Here in a chamber on the first floor Richard Wagner died on 13th February 1883 and the whole apartment has been turned into museum with multiple original artifacts of his life and times. It is the home of the Venice Wagner Society and one of their members conducted our very moving tour. Unfortunately there are no pictures allowed as the Palazzo is now the Venice Casino and they forbid photography throughout the whole building.
We will remain in Venice until June 23rd when we return to England for an extravaganza of Wagner opera and plan to take Exotica away from this beautiful place in early July.