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Hemingway Adventure

Venice (second day)

Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureHemingway was ‘very informal, very American’, he tells me. He wore clothes that seemed marvellously exotic to a European war baby, albeit a nobleman’s son, flying-jackets and big fur-lined boots and check shirts. He would be totally at ease with the servants and throw his arms round any pretty girl in a way which was unheard-of in structured Italian society.

‘He drove around in a limousine. A big Buick! In that time, no one in Italy, not even Giovanni Agnelli [the head of Fiat] drove around in a limousine.’

The Barone pauses, leans forward, extinguishes his cigarette and speaks with soft intensity.

‘He lived the legend, you see, he lived the legend.’

After an hour together we not only part on Michael and Alberto terms but he has invited us to come to the last duck-shoot of the season and see for ourselves what Hemingway liked so much about this particularly Venetian activity. He impresses upon me that duck-shooting is a serious business, with rituals and traditions stretching back five centuries. Its rules and regulations are essentially feudal, rural and zealously observed. Shooting takes place at dawn but the preparations begin the night before. I am given an address, driving instructions, and warned to bring very warm clothing, and a jacket and tie. Oh, and no girlfriends, it’s male only.
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  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Venice (second day)
  • Country/sea: Italy
  • Place: Venice
  • Book page no: 61

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