This post is for Nancy, who really wanted to visit me in Florence but was unable to do so because of her declining health. In fact, from now on, I will dedicate all my Italian travel posts to her (in my mind, anyway!). Since I am not back to my usual cheery positive self and am still having a tough time reading studies and/or doing any serious writing, I decided to post a “fluff” piece…about the trip we took to the Po Delta last month.
Before leaving Florence, we checked the online weather forecast (usually quite reliable)…the weather in that area was supposed to be cloudy but not rainy. We hesitated…but decided to leave anyway. By then it was mid afternoon. We arrived in the town of Comacchio in the early evening. Everything went very smoothly–no traffic on the way…a lovely, clean, airy B&B with very welcoming hosts who had prepared a nice large room with a great view of the canal (see photo 1)…a very promising start to our weekend. Indeed, I was so happy with our B&B that upon our return to Florence I wrote a 5-star review for TripAdvisor. My first review ever…
To our dismay, the weather forecast had been wrong…cloudy, my foot! On Saturday morning, a steady pitter-patter interrupted our sleep. I opened the shutters: rain…rain…rain…aaagghhh! Our very helpful and kind B&B host saved the day by rescheduling our boat trip in the delta…according to the weather, er, forecast, the afternoon was supposed to be sunny, perfect for a birdwatching boat trip. Yup.
Hmmm, what to do in the meantime? Once again, our B&B host came to our rescue. Following his suggestion, we spent a good part of the morning in the Museum of the Roman ship, admiring the contents of an ancient Roman flat-bottomed ship, about 20 meters long, which was found during dredging operations in a canal on the outskirts of the town of Comacchio in 1980. A museum guide took us around the first-floor exhibit: mallets, an ax, nails, ink pots and even ropes, brooms and the ship’s huge iron anchor. The guide explained to us—the only visitors—how the ship had been found…what the cargo, found intact and incredibly well-preserved, had been…and why they couldn’t allow visitors to view the ship itself (=serious issues of preservation)…fascinating. She made the ship contents come alive…
She then let us go upstairs by ourselves to wander around the second floor exhibit. Here we saw shoes and clothing (=1st century BC leather shoes, clothes and even an apron…!), fishing tools, cooking utensils and gambling games…plus six exquisite tiny votive temples made of lead and 102 lead ingots (extraordinary, simply extraordinary…), wine and oil amphorae and a collection of terracotta vases, containers, plates and whatnot…Anyway, in spite of our disappointment at not having viewed the actual ship, except in photos and a video, we were glad to have been to this museum (no photos allowed, by the way). For more info on the ship: http://tinyurl.com/3xoc3j3
I would like to note that the rain, which was supposed to end by early afternoon, continued throughout the day. Oh well. We were not discouraged. Hah!
After lunch we boarded a boat together with a group of loud tourists who kept complaining, loudly, about everything…especially the rain, as though this were somehow the fault of the park employees…! Their silly annoying chatter drowned out the voice of the very nice and well-informed park guide who was trying to provide all sorts of titbits on the delta area, give some interesting historical titbits and also point out birds that he had spotted. Stefano and I sat as far away from the rude tourists as possible, which meant that we had no cover from the rain…that was okay, since now we are well-equipped for wet weather…but what “got us!” in the end was the unexpected cold. Freezing cold…in April? Hard to believe, but yes, as a result of this two-hour boat trip Stefano developed a terrible cold (whereas I, with my almost nonexistent immune system, didn’t even get a sniffle…curcumin, thank you yet again!).
We didn’t see many birds (because of the rain, of course)…but we did get a few good photos. I even managed to take a photo of a spoonbill (spatula), but it is so out of focus that I cannot bring myself to publish it. We spotted heaps of pink flamingos huddled together in the distance, several little egrets (garzette) and an oystercatcher (beccaccia di mare) as well as a few pheasants, lots of different kinds of ducks and about a million seagulls. We decided to return to the Po Delta in better weather…
Sunday was…sunny, so we decided to drive to Ravenna…the city of beautiful mosaics…this is a photo of the famous mosaic depicting doves drinking from a vessel in the Galla Placidia Mausoleum…and here is a bit more information on this lovely city: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ravenna
That’s it! Now we are saving up for our trip to the UK in late June/early July…can’t wait!