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We are nearing the end of our wonderful holiday in Venice – just a couple of days to go. We have had another wonderful day today visiting various churches, museums and art galleries, and now we are relaxing back at our apartment. We have enjoyed a lovely meal in the apartment garden and are about to have some coffee and a glass or two of Limoncello. Julia is in the kitchen making the coffee when there is a sudden shriek accompanied simultaneously by the sound of breaking glass. Julia has dropped the glass coffee pot and it has smashed into numerous fragments!

We recall something in the instruction folder that told us what we should do in the event of such a calamity. Obviously, we are not the first guests to have committed such a faux pas. Sure enough there is a paragraph in the coffee pot section of the folder that tells us where the shop is in Venice where we can purchase a replacement glass coffee pot. Since we only have one more complete day of our holiday left that is tomorrow’s activity sorted because the replacement coffee pot shop is right over the other side of the Rialto Bridge and the Rialto market. Seemingly you can’t get a replacement anywhere else in Venice.

We set out about mid-morning the next day. Once again Julia has a map and a plan, and it looks like the day will not be wasted since there are various places to visit along the way, places we had not planned to visit but which look rather interesting nonetheless. We take the lid of the old glass coffee pot with us and make a rough guestimation of the height of the pot we will need. We still have some space on the tickets we bought at the beginning of our holiday to enable us to visit several churches and museums across Venice.

We know our way around Venice well by now and we soon arrive at the famous Rialto Bridge where the views are just as spectacular as ever and we take even more photographs to add to the ones we have already taken. We find a vacant shop on the Rialto which we think we should buy, reopen it as a butcher’s shop called ‘Shylocks’ where every cut of meat is sold for a pound! We carry on over the bridge to the Rialto Market where Julia (having once been in the fish business) is keen to see the fish market. It is great fun, full of strange looking fish (as well as the normal kind), and lots of people. We resist the temptation to buy some fish since we have an important task to complete first and we are also planning to go out for a final meal this evening.

Finding the shop that sells the replacement coffee pots turns out to be more difficult than we thought. Venetian house numbers are notoriously complicated, and we eventually discover that there are two streets with the same name in the same vicinity. Fortunately a nice lady in another domestic appliances shop helps us out by looking our shop up on the internet and giving us more precise directions. There is only one problem – the shop closes as 12.00 noon and doesn’t open again until 3.30 p.m. We make a dash for it and arrive at 12.05 p.m. The shop has closed for lunch! And we thought that it was only the French who took three-hour lunch breaks?  

This enforced delay has its compensations however. The shop itself is in a road just off the Campo Giacomo dell’ Orio, a square full of quiet charm, where we stop for a coffee and enjoy a picnic lunch. We visit the nearby unusual church of Chiesa di San Giacomo dall’ Orio with its amazing paintings and then take ourselves off to the 18th century Palazzo Mocenigo with its richly furnished and frescoed rooms, and a fascinating history of perfumes. Julia is in her element. Eventually I manage to drag her away as it is time to see if the coffee pot shop is open. It is not, but we hang around for 15 minutes and eventually the owner appears. He is very helpful even though he doesn’t speak English and we don’t speak Italian. He climbs up a tall ladder, roots around in various boxes, and eventually comes back down with a replacement glass coffee pot that looks about the right size.

We retrace our steps back to our apartment carefully carrying the new glass coffee pot. We don’t want to break it before we get home. Eventually we arrive back at our apartment, unpack the new glass coffee pot, insert it in the coffee machine … and it doesn’t fit! There is nothing for it but to take it back to the shop and see if they have another one. I am exhausted, so Julia insists I have a rest while she goes back to the shop, armed this time with all the details about the coffee machine we can muster. An hour later she phones me to tell me that the man doesn’t have a replacement glass coffee pot. Apparently, the coffee machine is so old they don’t make them anymore. He refunds our outlay and points Julia in the direction of another shop on the Rialto that sells new coffee machines at reasonable prices, and so we must buy a new machine.  Julia gets it home safely and it looks rather nice. We discover that the glass coffee pot that is part of it fits then old coffee machine perfectly?! Julia’s journey is not wasted, however, since (without me being in tow) she is able to make one or two other purchases for our new house back in the UK en route!

We decide that we will not use the new coffee machine but use another kind of coffee machine that is also resident in the apartment. It is somewhat complicated, but Julia eventually manages to master it. When we get back to the UK Julia confesses to Johanna (who owns the apartment with her husband Bruce) the saga of the dropped coffee pot. Johanna is appreciative of our efforts and kindly volunteers to split the cost of the replacement pot.   She also laughs and tells us that when she originally bought the old coffee pot she got it back to the apartment, took it out of its box, and immediately dropped the glass coffee pot on the floor and saw it smash into numerous pieces. No wonder she knew where the replacement glass coffee pot shop was!

Jim Binney

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