After my fourth and final day in Venice I know four things:
- The Venetians love chocolate
- They make exceptionally good hot chocolate
- The brew I had at Caffe Florian on my first day, though delicious, is no better than many other concoctions I sampled; even the simplest café on a back street serve up what can only be described as molten chocolate, it’s so thick your spoon almost stands up in it.
- I’ve come to realise that the only reason I’ve been tempted to have whipped cream with hot chocolate in the past is because there’s been nothing else very special about it. Here on the other hand it feels disrespectful to add cream to what is already perfection
On our last day we came across an exclusive boutique selling nothing but chocolate. On the wall directly opposite as you enter is what is basically a chocolate water fall, and the shelves are stacked with chocolate spreads, nut brittles, chocolate fondue sets, and chocolate bars all beautifully packaged. Behind the counter a selection of about 40 different kinds of truffles, pralines and dragees lay in wait, and of course there was a selection of hot chocolates to choose from (they even do iced chocolate in the summer). We stocked up on gifts for fellow chocoholics back home and left with a very heavy bag.
After the chocolate affair we continued our wander towards Piazzala Roma and came across a small shop selling beautiful glassware made on the premises by the owner, Viviana Toso. Even though Christmas is pretty much over I couldn’t resist one of the gorgeous baubles on display in the window. With the transaction finished and my bauble wrapped in bubble-wrap I did a very silly thing and dropped the bag on the floor. At first it seemed to have survived unscathed, but upon closer inspection Viviana noticed that the glass hook was broken.
Not being able to communicate very well made everything a little bit awkward, but she was very gracious and offered to fix it for me. And so she sat down at her desk and lit the gas flame and produced a clear glass rod, the tip of which she held directly in the flame. After only a minute or so it started melting and it looked fantastic; gooey and slow-running, like lava. She expertly turned it this way and that, and using some mysterious tool she managed to transform the blob into a long thin strand, which she separated from the rest of the rod, and then just like that twisted around to form a loop. Using special glass glue she attached the new hook to my bauble.
We had planned to go to Murano while we were in Venice, but there simply wasn’t enough time. In a way I think this was much better, there was no pressure to buy anything and we were the only ones there. The only thing I would want to change is that I would have liked to be able to speak to her. And that’s what I’m taking away with me from Venice. A love of the city and a promise to myself to learn Italian.
The photo of the molten chocolate is from the Viziovirtù website.