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July, 2016

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No wonder the rich and powerful of Venice took time off beside the River Brenta. Even today the main road has a 50 km/hr speed limit and electronic checks – we noticed our bus was once shown doing 53. Even after Brexit that’s not much above 30 mph.

It takes little more than half an hour to reach Dolo from Venice. From where we stayed in Mira it took barely five minutes. The bus stops opposite the river, by a run of shops and cafes, and this is all you need to know for a brief visit. A walk towards the edge of town brought us to a fruit and vegetable market, covered but open along three sides. The prices were good and the products fresh – a handy shopping centre for the nearby camp site.

Another half minute and we were walking down steps on the river bank. There were two restaurants, both closed at mid-morning. One shows by the waterwheel that it was formerly a mill. Benches outside gave a few minutes’ leisure to think what to do next. We let ourselves be led by our eyes: a slope runs up to a narrow street, where we found a cafe rather quieter and more attractive than those across the river. From the street we could look down on a filled-in basin where presumably the grain was landed for the mill. It now has a sculpture that seems to represent a gondola.

After coffee we wandered along to look at the delicatessen “24”, which also serves as a Valencian restaurant. The patron told us he’d lived in Italy for about eight years and had brought with him his mother’s recipe for paella. What more invitation would we need?

The restaurant, as everywhere in Italy, has spaces inside and out. As we were the first for lunch the risk of smokers was minimal so we sat outside, above a narrow alley that leads through an arch to the street. Very simply decorated with grey and white planks and screwed on picture frames it is nonetheless conducive to leisurely eating. This is certainly appropriate for paella, prepared while you wait. And it was well worth waiting for.

Afterwards we bought a couple of items from the deli to eat in the evening then went in search of a supermarket. There had been nothing on the way in from Mira so it had to be along the road at an angle from there. Once found it was easy to pick all that was needed to complement what we’d bought at the deli.

Time to reach the bus stop on the river bank, take a last look at a grand house over the water, and board the bus back. As is often the case in any country, including the UK, a village or small town can be charming and provide unexpected delights.


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