Things I Learned from my Venetian Hostess

View from my bedroom window in Laura’s Venetian flat…

I had the wonderful opportunity recently of staying with a new friend in her home in Venice. Laura Bonzanigo is originally from Milan, Italy and now attends university in Venice. She lives in a great flat in the center area of Venice called the Venezia Sestiere Dorsoduro. Boy, was I glad that I didn’t follow the directions the GPS on my iPhone gave me that would have taken me over several bridges and up and down stairs…instead I went from the Zattere water-taxi stop and took a familiar route I had been on during my last trip. The name of the pathway was the same as what the address was so there had to be something to it, right? Turned out to be the way, cause then I noticed that the numbers along the doorways were close to the number of her address. “Perfecto!” I thought to myself, “maybe it’s closer than I thought and I don’t have to keep lugging my heavy duffel bag on wheels much further”. And there I was, less than a 5 minute walk later, no bridges and stairs to mount, and the building even had a lift, thank God! Because her flat was on the 4th floor! Whew! Home-sweet-Venetian-home is right!

Now, there’s a lot of different experiences that people have with a host/hostess and perhaps different words and memories that come to our minds when we recall the hospitality we receive…what I will always think of when Laura comes to mind is this: her Italian hospitality is beautifully generous, welcoming, and easy-going. This is what I mean by that…

One of my favorite places to get espresso in the morning, just steps away from the flat.

Laura had to work a long day when I arrived and then leave the next day to be out-of-town for the weekend, so I actually did not see her till several days later. And that ended up being the first time that we met since it was through her aunt in Milan that we were introduced via email. Yet she was in great touch with me, went out of her way to make arrangements for me to get the keys and get into the flat (by the way, “flat” is the European term for apartment or condo, just in case you didn’t know), and when we got to meet in person, she made me feel so at home and like I was part of her circle of family and friends.

I learned so many great things about her that we have in common, like her love for rock-climbing and the outdoors, going to yoga classes, and loving to travel. It was also neat to learn about her family and that one of her sisters is an architect and an artist. I wanted to share her website here so that you can also see the beautiful work that she does and the new creative medium she uses in her art. Enjoy perusing the beautiful work and let me know what you think: http://www.beatricebonzanigo.com/

Loved that view from my bedroom window – heard church bells ring everyday from here.

Her boyfriend Lorenzo and her are adorable together, always laughing it seems, and they were really kind and patient with me when I did things like left on the hot-water heater – an important thing I learned to not do again, since in some places they can eventually explode if left on too long, so better switch those suckers off. Oh, and if the toilet paper runs out, don’t use paper napkins Amalia…really? I still can’t believe I did that since that’s a pretty universal one, right. But there you have it…I’m holding nothing back to make sure others learn from my mistakes! And last, but not least, I made sure after the first time, to not leave the keys in the door. Those old, practically ancient locks, are difficult enough to unlock even without a key dangling in them from the inside. Oops again.

Well, now that any of you readers are scared off to host me, I ask that instead you look at it this way – Laura helped me learn as my first local host in Venice, so now I’m all set for you and I promise I won’t leave your home in shambles or, even worse, ashes. Eeek! All kidding aside, I can and will be a good guest, I promise🙂

Fresh produce sold on the canals…

More than anything, staying with Laura gave me such a great experience of Venice. I felt as though I got a great taste for what it is like to live there, with work and everyday life to have to accomplish, the grocery store to go to for food, and learning the ins and outs of what taking care of a home there involves. My time there spent with her and in her home was fantastico! Only one thing I regret – I didn’t get a picture with her! This means we’ll have to see each other again, soon.

What an everyday-life…no cars and strolling among scenes like this…

Molte grazie Laura and I hope to host you soon. You are always welcome with me wherever we can cross paths in the world!