Cliché as it is, Italy is a country of superlatives: the creamiest gelato; the highest heels (and the shortest skirts!); the oldest ruins and the Smartest Cars. However, there's the flip side to this, too. The wrongest toilettes; the grossest tea; and the scarcest piscini!
Italy is this especially: Frustrating! When it comes to swimming, your best bet is as a duck in the Tiber! Yet, PP is nothing if not stubborn. Hence, her search for pools in Italy after her fantastico success in Florence:
Piscene Comunale Saint a'Lvise. Calle del Capitello, Cannargegio. 3163
PP tingles with excitement as she begins reading aloud the Fodor's description:
“Venice's newest swimming pool is set in peaceful Carnnaregio and offers lessons and swimming sessions (PP has to admit that these 'swimming sessions' seemed suspect. What the hell could a swimming session entail? She pictures screaming children with doting mothers surrounded by harried swim instructors barking Italian); there's a warm mini pool for smaller children (oh, so maybe the swim sessions might be for adults?); and remember you will have to wear a swimming cap in the water and flip flops to walk from the changing rooms to the pool. No credit cards accepted. M, W, F 1-2:30, 9:30-10:45.” (Fodor's 'See it' Venice, 2011)
Grinning, PP beams over at DHBF. “Is it close? Can we walk?”
“Let me look at the map,” he answers (As if PP didn't know this would be his response. Actually, it's a good thing one of them can read a map. She sure as hell can't) “Yup, it's right in the neighborhood. Let me show you.”
He stretches the pretty blues, greens and golden boxes with thin black lines out toward her. She makes a face. “I believe you. Let's go! It says it's open at 1:00 and today's Wednesday.”
“I don't have any flip flops or swimming cap,” he laments.
“I have a cap you can use and there must be flip flops around here somewhere.”
He brightens, “Paolo has all those 'slippers' for us—I'll just borrow a pair. But will my hair fit in the cap?”
PP laughs. “Of course. They're stretchable. Let's go!”
And so they do, packing up the flip flops, the fins, the towels and caps and heading toward Calle del Capitello.
It is so close!
PP can barely contain her excitement. What if the pool is really this close as they near their destination after only a 5 minute walk? And it's only Wednesday and they're here in Venice for 3 more days. That means they can swim 3 days this week. Perfecto!
Rounding the corner, after winding along another canal, they come upon the designated street and trudge down the spooky alley. PP realizes that she's supposed to be entranced by Venice and its canals and alleyways, but in fact, she finds them creepy and cold. At least there are no crowds of tourists here. Evidently, tourists don't swim. PP is the only crazy one who has to go in quest of pools no matter where she travels.
They find a building that houses the Civic Centro of Venice. Okay looks promising. Inching tentatively through the decrepit doorway, they make their way in. “This looks like a pool might be in here, don't you think?”she asks DHBF.
“Yup,” he nods, craning his neck upward to take in all the sights.
She peers inside the large glass windows of the ancient yellow building, spying what looks like a tutoring session. “Umm....Italian lessons?” she laughs. “Wonder if the pool is behind there?”
DHBF frowns, “No, I think we're in the wrong place. This isn't the right address. We’re supposed to be at 3163. This is 3160. It must be back out and down at the next building.”
Shivering, PP nods, heading back out of the compound, leaving a lone dog walker in the forlorn garden. Venice is a dog town. They've yet to meet even one gatto.
“MEOW!!! Meow... meow!” she hears, coming up behind her.
“A kitty!” PP exclaims. “It's about time for gatti! How perfecto that the first cat we've seen is on our way to the pool. He must be our mascot to the piscene!”
“MRROOOW!” the tabby cries again, wondering if she's brought any kibble in her swim bag.
“Where's the pool, kitty?” she asks as they head down to the end of the alley, Venice Tabby leading the way.
“Here's the address,” DHBF stops in front of a locked gate, weeks' old mail spilling out of the box. PP picks it up (What is the fine for sorting through official city centro mail she wonders?) all addressed to Piscene, 3163 Calle del Capitello.
“Looks like this mail's been here for weeks,” she sighs, reality sinking in. It was just too good to be true. To find a pool so close to their place in Venice. But yet, it was only 12:00; maybe if they came back at 1:00, it'd be open.
She suggests this to DHBF, who shrugs, “Sure, we can try that. What do you want to do?”
“Get cappucini of course.” What else? When in Rome as they say.
And so they do. And coffee is delicious. And the cafe is cute. But the whole time she's thinking how the pool just did NOT look like it was going to open in an hour.
But hell. This was Italy. Things aren't what they seem. Maybe the Italians just haven't picked up their mail.
Yeah, sure, this is a possibility.
And so down with the cappuccino, hope still in her heart with the ingestion of caffeine. Why even a half decent bathroom she could use. Then back to the pool.
“Mreeow mreeow!” Mr. Tabby's still waiting for his kibble.
“Hey, Kitty,” she squats down in front of the still padlocked pool entry gate. “Looks like the pool is closed for the season.”
“Yes,” DHBF agrees. “Remember how in Florence many of the pools we called weren't open till Jan 6th or 9th?”
“But we'll be in Roma by then,” she whines.
“Maybe we'll find a pool there,” he soothes.
PP is disappointed, naturally. But then Roma awaits. A city of infinite possibilities.
In such a city, there must be a pool for her.