I guess, for me it all started with a visit to the Carnival in Venice. February 2020. I remember the spectacle. I had never really seen anything like it. A piazza that looked more like a show, colors and masks and people parading around, posing and becoming photo opportunities for the tourists and the casual travelers. Centuries condensed into a parade and a piazza turned into a Broadway show. Leaving there, I remember thinking how extraordinary it was to have seen this event. For all the years I had traveled to Venice, I had just missed it. And as we drove out of Venice heading north, I remember thinking I had witnessed something special. And then, Covid.
Italy first, shut down and slowly this phenomenon engulfed all of Europe. That was 2 years ago. Now, I am heading back to Carnival and Italy to meet our staff and clients. The suppliers who have just about survived these past 2 years with no business. Some never made it. Never to reopen. For most of us, we are back and I cannot wait to hear the sounds of the Vaporetti, the lapping of water of the gondolier jetties and the winter light in beautiful Venice. This is where it all began for me. The windows closed. The doors shut. And now, they’re opening again.
Someone once asked me what I loved about Italy. Was it the Forum, St. Peter’s, the Duomo, the Basilica in San Marco, the food, the wine, etc.? The wonder of Italy is that the list is endless. But it remined me of a funny story. My niece lives in Rome. She had bumped into Hugh Grant, the English actor, at a well-known bar and she had asked him what he loved most about Italy. He paused and then said, “the beautiful darkness that hotel rooms afford me during the day!” What he was referring to are the blinds in the rooms and in every house, apartment and shop. The Taparelli as they are called. A moving curtain of metal slats that gives you utter privacy and solace from the sunshine and light. The bliss of absolute darkness in the afternoon for a snooze before an evening venture around the streets of Rome or Venice. Not, I hasten to say, venetian blinds. A whole different story and a whole different century! And nowhere near as effective!!
Taparella means a conveyor belt. Sliding, rolling slats that interlock and offer perfect darkness. Operated electrically or on a rope-pull. They are one of the great inventions of Italia. I always think of that great line in Life of Brian. “What have you Romans done for us lately! Roads, heating, bridges, sanitation, aqueducts, baths, and…Taparelli!”