I’ve got a couple of projects on the go at the minute (both at various stages of frustration) so it was cool to have an excuse to close the lap top for a while. That excuse was a short trip to Italy, skiing mainly but with a couple of days travelling tacked on the end. After the snow, we decided that Venice could be nice at this time of year and we were right, a cool breeze having emptied the city of the smells and tourists that can make a summer visit here feel like a crappy fair ground ride. It was on the water taxi on the way to the hotel that I happened across a short article in the guide book inviting me to spend some time at Harry’s Bar.
‘Apparently Hemmingway used to drink at this bar, love.’
So it’s obvious from the start that my girlfriend and me have got different things to see and do but as we’re unpacking in the room I manage to convince her that we should find the bar and chill out for a bit before trying to empty the shops. The concierge explains where Harry’s is. Not far actually, just a quick stroll through San Marc’s insatiable pigeons, a right turn at the water front and a 100 yard stroll to the corner where the gondoliers meet. Italian men are worse than the pigeons when you’re with a beautiful woman and my plummeting confidence isn’t helped much by their laughter as I stop to ask where Harry’s is only for one of them to reach across with his oar and tap on the brown door behind me.
‘Grazie. Now come on love, leave the nice men alone.’
Inside the bar is small with not so much a sense of 1920’s chic, more a station waiting room some way down the track. The semi fine furniture is cluttered with jackets, umbrellas and confused, flushed faces. No sign of Hemmingway either and I’m beginning to wonder where I’m going to get my inspiration from. There are waiters though, more pigeons dressed this time in white jackets and I order a couple of Bellini’s from them. While I’m waiting I get a clue from the table next to us as to what Harry’s bar means today.
‘Er, excuse me waiter, but Martini is usually served in a cocktail glass isn’t it?’
The waiter smiles at the American gent with ridiculous contempt. He looks down at the short, stubby glass of gin and then back at the customer.
‘That is how Mr Hemmingway liked them sir’
Our drinks arrive as we’re laughing about this and finally I get the inspiration I came for, and not only to write but to market and sell as hard as I can too.
‘Forty five euros for two bloody drinks!’
The American gives me a knowing nod and together we finish our drinks and hum the theme tune to The Italian Job.