by Melinda Gallo

Are we really welcome in Venice?

We arrived at 3:30PM on the Eurostar, which was more crowded than the last time we came. We walked outside and looked out at the canale, which was filled with boats passing by in each direction. Crowds of people were arriving at the station and more crowds were leaving the station.

We got on the vaporetto that takes us to the "Accademia" stop and were surprised by the number of tourists packed on it. People seemed stressed out, angry, and irritable. The locals seemed ruder than the last time and absolutely had no patience whatsoever for any tourist. I stood there trying to keep out of the way.

I was happy to get off the vaporetto, which cost us 5 Euros each to go 5 stops, but there's no other way to get to where we wanted to go without walking through the winding streets. We did this last time and lugged our luggage for over an hour going one way down one street only to go back the other way.

We arrived at the hotel and the man at the desk said, "Dovrebbe essere la Signora Gallo." (You must be Mrs. Gallo). The man asked us for our documents. I handed him my permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay) and Dave handed him his California driver's license. "Che cos'è?" (What is this?) he asked me in a tone that made me think my IQ must have dropped a few points.

I responded that we live in Florence and that I only brought my permesso di soggiorno and Dave forgot his. He ranted and raved for a few minutes and I let him. I explained that we are legal residents here in Italy, but we just didn't bring our US passports. We don't go around Florence with our passports in our pockets, we have permessi di soggiorno.

He kept on and told me that if the police come to check, he'll be in trouble. I stood there in silence, listening and nodding to be polite. There's nothing we could do. We're here and those are the documents we have. We've been to other places and everyone takes our permessi di soggiorno just fine. Besides, they only need one person to have the proper documents.

"Non si arrabbia," (Let's not get upset) he told me. I thought it was funny that he's telling me we shouldn't get upset since he's the one blowing up at me. I didn't feel like responding to him. I said what I had to say. I figured if it's not good enough for him, we can leave and find something else.

He walked us up the stairs toward our room. As we walked past the breakfast area, he told me to make sure that we're there between 8 and 9:30. Nothing will be served afterwards. He opened the door to our room, turned on the lights, told us where everything was, and left without closing the door.

I didn't think I let him affect me, but it took me a few hours to let his continual ranting subside. I was mostly upset that he welcomed us back to our favorite city so rudely. It was as if he thought we offended him for not bringing our passports.

When we got back another man was at the entrance. I asked him for our documenti. As he reached over to get them for me, he didn't see the key there. I told him that I had kept it. He then proceeded to tell me that I need to leave the key with them so they know who is here and who is not. I responded, "Non c'era nessuno quando ci siamo andati via e non volevo lasciare le chiavi sulla scrivania." (No one was here when we left and I didn't want to leave them on the desk.) He told me that I did the right thing, but when I leave I should leave them. I then said, "Sì, se c'è qualcuno a qui posso lasciarle." (Yes, if someone is here to whom I can leave them.) and walked up to my room.

Maybe Venice is only for the Venetians.

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