Don’t hold it against me, but I don’t think so.
It’s a kind of sandolo [a kind of gondola] with a very low bow where you can put a real gun full of nails and powder to shoot the ducks. But the s’ciopon was also used for rifle hunting: since the boat was very light it could pass above sandbanks and shoals and it was very convenient since outboard motors still didn’t exist or rather existed but nobody had them.
Did your aunt say anything else?
Well, for example she told us he used to write in the night, never in the day. That’s why they put red wine bottles out of his door and if they found them empty the next morning it meant that he had been writing the whole night, while if they were full it meant he had been sleeping. I don’t know if this is true or just a legend, but it’s certainly an intriguing story!
Hemingway loved Valpolicella and not Whiskey, as many people have wrongly said. Is it true?
Yes, Valpolicella, but not Amarone! There was some Amarone, very few bottles actually, but it wasn’t a table wine, it has always been an afternoon or after-meal wine. Now people drink it also during the meal, but I think it’s too strong. Back then, instead, there was Valpolicella Valpantena, produced by Bertani. We also used Valpolicella at Harry’s Bar, it was kind of a house wine.
To stay on the topic, what were his favourite drinks?
I can’t tell you this, but I can say he loved to eat, though not in large quantities. He was fond of risotto. Have you ever read the tale The Good Lion? There he mentions it more than once. The tale is about a winged lion who is denigrated by his fellow lions in Africa because he eats risotto and drinks americano. Thrown out, he goes back to Venice, where he finds his father in San Marco square, who tells him, if he goes to Harry’s Bar, to tell the Ciprianis he would go there one of those days and settle the bill.
Do you also remember how high the bill was? All jokes aside, what did your father say and remember about Ernest Hemingway at Harry’s Bar in Venice?
Look, I can tell you an anecdote that links a memory to an icon. We still have a photograph of my father and him: Hemingway wears a big Mexican sombrero and they are sitting at a table in Torcello with many empty glasses in front of them. You can imagine the following couple of days of my father. You know, my father was a very simple man and he never talked about his job, he never acted as a boss, he always behaved like a host, he never got too familiar with guests, he only gave them the kindest welcome. This is what people likes, the “secret” of our places, one we still keep on handing down.
Let me take you back for a moment to last summer: in July, the memory of Ernest Hemingway was celebrated in Caorle with the Papa Journalism Award, an event you were involved in, which drew attention to Veneto. Would you like to talk about it?
Yes, of course. As you just recalled, I had the pleasure to participate as guest to the award final phase. In my opinion, prizes related to great personalities of literature, as you know well, are always important, as they stimulate research and provide a fundamental basis for the development of culture. This year I also had the chance to meet John Hemingway, the writer’s grandson, an extremely nice person, who visited Harry’s Bar. So I confirm my great pleasure in taking part to the event and the great quality of it.