Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Box Arrives

I came home today in a hurry.

Several months ago I ordered some remi from Franco Furlanetto in Venice. It wasn't urgent, so he took his time, did things the way they ought to be done, and waited for shipping rates to go down before sending. Nereo Zane was amazingly helpful in expediting the process and handling translation matters.

Today was "delivery truck day".
It's like Christmas for a gondola fanatic.

It's nice to have the luxury of time. I've ordered remi and forcole in the past and had to deal with meeting a deadline - no fun, and not easy when the US Customs is involved. I was happy to see things progress without any stress.

I don't really have anything against the customs people, but unfortunately sometimes it seems like they have issues with me. In fairness, however, I must point out that when I order remi, they are shipped in a very long box that's fairly heavy. One time I had a comedic exchange with an inspector who pointed out that "a long heavy box could contain one of many dangerous things".

Think about it:
bazookas, rocket propelled grenades, even the rifled barrel for an artillery piece could conceivably rest in such a box. Sure, they'd probably be heavier, but why would anyone want to take a chance?

Because of the vigilant work of our customs officials, I have yet to receive anything from Italy in a box that hasn't been in some way "examined".
Now "examination" usually involves opening the box to look inside. Sometimes they use tools in the proper way, other times they just crowbar the lid off with little concern for what might be inside.

This time the end was crunched in. It wasn't much, looked like "shipping damage", but the more likely story is that someone examining the box felt like this hole was big enough to shine a flashlight in to make sure there were no surface-to-air missiles being shipped to Newport Beach.

I got a kick out of the Venetian security seal; I'm thinking about varnishing it under a few coats somewhere on a remo.

Opening the box, I saw 18 beautiful new remi, neatly wrapped in groups of three and nestled together with the care and pride only a Venetian would put into shipping something like this.
The smell came up and filled my head with memories of Franco's shop.
It's a mixture of several scents, that combine to make one, unmistakable memory.
If you've ever been in a remer's shop, you know the smell.
I laid out the remi, still neatly wrapped in groups of three, on the floor for examination.
No damage. Everything looked great.

Time caught up with me, and I had to run out the door to row a cruise, but when I came back I made a wonderful discovery: my whole garage now smells like Franco's shop.

I'm tellin' you, it's like Christmas in October!


Tamas Feher from Hungary said...

> Opening the box, I saw 18 beautiful new remi <

That many? Wow! You'll have a bissona or disdotona for Xmas?

What happens to the old remi? I've heard venetians use them to feed Murano's furnace fires, so worn-out gondola parts resurrect in glass.

As for the customs, you are lucky not to have ordered a s'ciopon or you would be in big trouble with the Homeland Security!

Gondola Greg said...

Good one about the s'ciopon.

I've never heard that about the furnaces of Murano. Who knows if it's true, but it's just the kind of thing gondoliers would say to their passengers.

Sean Jamieson said...

I think I know what I'm getting in my stocking from Santa. Thanks in advance Greg.

Bepi said...

San Gregorissimo! Ave! Ave! Ave!

Bepi said...

I wonder, at its peak, what the annual remo production figures were. Several thousand gondolas plus every other conceivable vessel, including fleets of galleys, needing oars, century after century after century. Atsa lotsa remi. Sheer lack of space to store the unusable oars plus the cost of importing wood probably made the fires of Murano an excellent pyre.

Bepi said...

Not to go B/C here but I recently found a book from 1700 about Venice. Not only is there an excellent list of names for Venice like "Metropoli d'una Potentissimo Republica" but there is also a list of the names of the origional families of Venice which includes... Zane.

Nereo said...

Hi Bepi and all, the Zane family was for centuries one of the most important and rich among the Venetians families. They were merchants, owners of a fleet of vessel bringing any kind of goods from Northern Africa and middle East to Venice (and then to Northern Europe). There are two or three palaces built and owned by the Zane's in Venice.

Gondola Greg said...

- Sean, once again you crack me up.
My response has got to be:
"My, what big feet you have!"

- Bepi, all good points, and no, not too much "buttercowing". Thanks foor the Zane history.
I have to say though, about the whole "fires of Murano" thiing, that the thought of burning remi, to me, seems like sacrilege.

- Nereo, I always knew you were some kind of nobility.