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Hemingway Adventure

Cáorle (first day)

Cáorle, Italy 
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The casone and the pre-shoot dinner.
Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureWe find ourselves driving once again across the flat, grid-like scenery east of Venice, beyond the Piave, and across the Livenza, before turning off the autostrada towards the town of Cáorle on the Adriatic coast.

Just before the town we turn into a narrow road which becomes a track which follows a network of irrigation ditches through an increasingly deserted agricultural landscape until it fetches up at a gabled, red-brick two-storey building that looks like a country railway station. This is the casone, the hunting lodge, at which the shooting party will soon assemble.

Before we left Venice the Barone briefed me about the formalities. Guests arrive around seven in the evening, drink and talk until it’s time to eat and drink, then, after eating and drinking, gather around an open log fire to play card games, tell jokes and drink. After that there are late-night drinks followed by various manly pranks, like making apple-pie beds for fellow guests, followed by maybe two hours’ oblivion before being woken at four for breakfast. After the morning shoot, the party returns to the casone to eat and drink before going home.

I am the first guest to arrive. The staff flit about adjusting, preparing and table-laying. I nose around. The buildings have been quite extensively tarted up in reproduction rustic style with shiny new brick and timber-clad walls on which hang old prints of hunters at work or lovingly painted depictions of the various kinds of duck they kill. The gun-rack in the hallway is predictable but not the stuffed black bear (shot in Romania) that rears up at the bottom of the stairs, nor the leopard skin stretched across one wall. I learn later that these were both victims of Alberto’s father, Nanyuki, who used to own this lodge and estate.

Car wheels crunch on the gravel outside and the guests begin to assemble. They are not as intimidatingly correct as I had feared, in fact our host is not a nobleman but a chicken millionaire from Vicenza.

There are ten of us for dinner and we barely fill half the great oak dining table. We eat by candlelight. All three courses are fish - apparently, it is not good luck to serve red meat before a shoot.
Cáorle, Italy 
click to enlarge 
file size
The casone and the pre-shoot dinner.
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  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Cáorle (first day)
  • Country/sea: Italy
  • Place: Cáorle
  • Book page no: 64

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