Tuesday, December 17, 2013


My first Campari spritz was in Venezia of course, in 1984. I was hanging out with a couple of gondoliers after the Regata Storica. It was a hot and humid sunny day in September and the boys had a short break in the "taxi" line. Lino grabbed me and we headed down a small calle to a tiny little bar and ordered up a some spritz or "spriss." In fact, the bar was loaded with a good 15 gondoliers all standing behind a clear glass with the most luscious looking red drink I had seen. Chin chin and down it went! It was god-awfully bitter. I almost thought it a joke on the young American gondolier, like a frat prank on a new pledge. They didn't giggle though for this was their Gatorade, their rite of passion. Since then I have called it "the gondolier.". I have now been officially addicted to the Campari spritz for almost 30 years. The intoxicating refreshing oh so satisfying mixture was this, but now has a few options. One part Campari, one part vino bianco and one part soda. Add a twist of lemon and an olive to step it up. I like Select which was born on the Giudecca. Campari is of course quite nice but Aperol has made a huge rush over the past 12 years or so. White wine is sometimes substituted with Prosecco which allows for the elimination of the soda but it takes a bit of the bitter away which is what I crave, it's the addictive part. I have spent so many hours in the alleys, canals and lagoon of Venezia that the warm summer wind has brushed the back of my neck from every direction,at every sun level and color a Venetian sunset has to offer. A spritz to me is the color of the perfect sunset. A "spriss" IS the lagoon, the campo, the church bells,the chit chat and chicchetti. So now i can be any where in the world, and not unlike Pavlovs dogs, a certain warm wind on my neck, or a sparkle on the water or the color of a sunset can cause instant salivation that can only be satiated by a Perfect Spritz. Hard to find but not impossible! I always keep a bottle of Select or Campari in the freezer. So here I sit, on a beached Gondola in Alamitos Bay, Long Beach. I just finished painting and varnishing the gondola and a warm breeze lifted off the shimmering bay at sunset. My mouth became moist, i knew it was happening and i knew what to do. I am now half way through a perfect "spriss." Viva Venezia!! Otolini And guess what? It's DECEMBER! So grab a spriss or maybe a big bottle of Red and come on down for a cruise of Lights. Or how about the ultimate gift of Venezia, a bottle of Campari, some soda and white wine and a Gondola gift certificate. Who wouldn't want that for Christmas! IMG_0002.JPG

Friday, December 13, 2013

As I stood on the dock of the bay at the Gondola Getaway last night,  I was like a fly on the wall watching my world in action.  As I was helping load a fleet cruise of 42 onto the Gondolas that had just arrived by a Big Red Bus double-decker waterfront light tour, another Double Decker pulled into one of our favorite bus stops, right on the beach.  The bus rested as the musician on board sang Christmas carols to the passengers as they gazed across the inky still bay at the lights of the homes on Naples Islands and the Gondolas as they glided across the bay.  I planned on heading out to check on some other parts of the businesses but could not pull myself away from the moment, the hour, the evening on the bay.  The fleet cruise was back in an hour with a full set up of Hot Chocolate and Cookies on the dock.  After an hour with Andretti and Suave the Gondoliers,  they were in the Holiday spirit, singing, dancing and then loading onto the Double Decker with Tyson the kilted conductor for one last view of the enchanting" lit up" Bay.  All in all, between Cable Car, Double Decker Busses and Gondolas, we moved over 600 people through and around this Waterfront I call home, Alamitos Bay and Naples Islands.  There is not another place in the world where this experience can be had with all this beauty and unique transportation.  Gondolas, Puparin, Sandoli, Caorlina's, Double Deckers, Cable car, all within arms reach right here in one of the most beautiful places in the world.  Dead calm, moon lit, lights Galore and a Southern California Christmas "Crisp" in the air.  Guess what?  I and 600 other lucky people get to do it again tonight and every night until the new year!
Buon Natale

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Well here we go!  Just kinda kick'n the tires for now.  Learning a bit on how to present and download things.  These pictures tell a story of bringing a Gondola from Venezia to Alamitos bay in Long Beach.  The video is me rowing the "Erla Farnea" just after purchase in Venezia on the Isle of
Giudecca!  The picture on the beach is at the Gondola Getaway in Long Beach, Ca just a month later.
We bring her up at high tide then let the tide drop to give us a "dry dock" situation.  Not at all unlike the way they do it in Venezia 


Holiday cruise of lights

Although the enchanting Canals of Naples islands show beauty in every changing season! the Holidays are especially unique.  The canals become a winter wonderland of lights and a Gondola cruise through the islands waterways is by far the best way to experience this special atmosphere.  Be sure to make this Holiday tradition beginning this year..... Just call 562-433-9595 and we will help make it happen this Season,

Buon Natalie