Sunday, April 28, 2013

Venice is flooded or you can’t find a bathroom in this maze of a city? There’s a new app for that!

Venice by night

I’ve been teaching English conversation classes for so long now that I’ve lost count of how many years it’s been….fifteen—perhaps sixteen. What I do remember are my students: university graduates, airline pilots, doctors, professionals looking to build their résumés, young entrepreneurs expanding their businesses, retirees taking advantage of their golden years, travellers or people just interested in languages and making good conversation.

One of these students is Marcello Gasparini, co-founder of Ar.Ma. Informatica  and creator of two NEW and very useful mobile applications: Water on the Venice Floor and W.C. Toilette in Venice. Both provide helpful information for tourists and residents in Venice, Italy.

Water on the Venice Floor shows real time data indicating which alleyways—calle— are dry and which are flooded during high tide—alta marea—in Venice. The app highlights areas on a map of Venice in RED for under water or GREY for dry. This app makes it easier to move around Venice during the unfortunate and all too frequent occurrences of high tide, and enables one to change their route to get where they need to be without getting lost or getting wet. And it’s FREE! Water on the Floor is available at and at  

The second application W.C. Toilette in Venice costs less than 2 euro, but might be even more useful. Anyone who has ever been to Venice knows these facilities are not easy to find. This app shows where one can find public toilets in Venice; if they’re open; what services they offer—baby change, handicap, etc. W.C. Toilette in Venice can be found at venice/id619813222?mt=8  or

Make your stay in Venice even more enjoyable by adding these to your smart phones, iPads or other mobile instruments…and then lend Marcello Gasparini, Ar.Ma. Informatica's hard working entreprenuer, a helping hand by spreading the word to friends, family and habitués of Venice.

Monday, April 8, 2013

I hope my garden won’t have to wait much longer…

Oriago in Fiore April 2013
A swarm of swallows are displaying their flying skills over my garden like daredevil pilots in an airshow while a pheasant flaunts its glistening green and bronze feathers on the grassy canal bank behind my home. Yet spring is struggling to break winter’s grip around Italy. And as if proclaiming BASTA! Enough gray skies, the Pro Loco in the city of Mira, Venice, (20 km from Venice’s historical center) launched the 2013 flower festival season with its XXXV Oriago in Fiore yesterday; assuring us that warmer weather must be around the corner.
The Brenta Canal-Oriago-Mira, Venice, Italy
Wind and sun blessed the day and, tired of a month of rain, I slipped on my sunglasses and overcoat, and headed to Oriago's Riviera  San Pietro. Vibrant displays of geraniums, hydrangeas, bluebells, and azaleas greeted me at the end of the creaking wood pedestrian bridge that crosses the Brenta canal, and I immediately began planning what additions I would bring to my garden.
Fuchsia, pale pink and white geraniums with flowers as big as my fist would look nice potted together I thought. Hmmm, what about those yellow and orange or even those purple daisy-like succulents—they would do well in the sunny front flowerbed. Oh look, multicolored ranunculi... I love that their petals look like chiffon vellum paper and come in just as many colors. Plus, they’re a bulb, so they’d be low-maintenance, too. Or should I pick up a Parisian geranium plant? I do prefer how they gracefully hang over the rim of taller terracotta vases.

Which plants, how many, how much would all this cost me, and how would I get them all back to the car? Overwhelmed by my choices, and knowing my garden was still too soggy from March’s rain to begin planting, I left my wallet in my purse, grabbed my camera instead, and took an enjoyable walk.
Spring days will surely get warmer, and many more flower festivals lie ahead. So, soon I’ll choose which plants I want to add to my garden. But for now, and for those who don’t live in Italy or in the Veneto area and want to explore the Venetian countryside, here are some handy links and a few lodging suggestions…all close to Venice--all run by hard working friends. And of course a few more shots of the Oriago flower festival...Happy Spring!

Flower festivals coming up April 2013 in Veneto:
Faronhof Bed & Breakfast
Agriturismo Ca’Marcello Mira
Villa Margherita 4 star hotel
Villa Franceschi 5 star hotel
Petunias, Guinea 'glass flowers', Begonias and more...
This gentleman has been cultivating artichokes for more than 50 years!

Barrels of Carnations


African Violets
Begonias Galore
Magnolia tree in bloom