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Tuesday, March 25, 2014 | Time-out in Venice and continuation of the journey

Who would have thought it? We catch an afternoon train once again from Taveso to Venice and amble in princely fashion to St Mark’s Square to dine. The way back to the station through the maze of streets poses something of a problem, the city map and the narrow streets rarely seeming to coincide. Plenty of signs for St Mark’s Square, none for the railway station. A friendly Italian family kindly comes to our aid, guiding us out of the maze in time to catch our train.

Thursday. Sipa is on the schedule today. I’m still in the grip of a bout of flu, which means not getting too close to Roberta (Marketing Manager, Sipa), otherwise she too will be laid up in the sick bed. On our tour of the factory, we are delighted to meet company founder Mr Zoppas. He is full of enthusiasm for their new preform line. It consists of two parts, firstly the traditional X - form injection technology, and secondly, an Extreme compression injection moulding of preforms in a rotary machine. A number of machines have already been sold, but it remains until further notice (well, until this Thursday) a state secret.

Retal's preform area

But things don’t stay a secret for very long in this small sector. When we meet Mr Renzo of Imperia Retal in San Dona di Piave on Friday, he tells us proudly that he has purchased an Extreme. We are very surprised by this, since Retal purchases exclusively Husky machines for all its factories, and only tolerates other makes acquired from factories within the Retal group. We talk shop about the technical details of the new facility.

Retal's dosing units made by Piovan

In the afternoon we meet THE brand leader in Italian water: San Pellegrino. We hear confirmation of the trend towards inexpensive (own label) water. Even San Pellegrino, a premium brand, cannot escape the trend, but the shift is mainly at the expense of the middle price segment.
That evening we find an agreeable camping spot in Lido di Jesolo. From there we go on Saturday by bike to the ferry that takes us to Venice. Over lunch, we witness a very interesting spectacle. Clouds threaten the first rain for several weeks. The waiter hurriedly begins to set up square umbrellas, fitting them tightly together, then securing them with small towels to keep the rain off and stop it dripping between the covers. To complete the proceedings, the final touch is to switch on the lighting, just as it starts to rain. Just in Time, in fact.

Sunday is rained off, so we decide to set off towards our Monday appointment. In a quiet side street in the heart of Parma, we quickly find a place to park for the night. The road is closed to HGVs but not for our motorhome.

Monday morning and it’s time to leave. After 50 metres, we understand exactly why no HGVs are allowed on this road, as we are led ever deeper into the maze of narrow streets of Parma. Waldemar has to get out time and time again to guide me through the narrow passage ways. Despite everything, we arrive on time for our appointment with the cft company. In the PET sector they building only filling lines and no stretch blow moulding. Consequently, they focus on their glass and can filling lines. As a new growth area they have identified the craft brewers, where their equipment is ideally suited. In addition, they are now installing the first brewery.

Tuesday and Sacmi awaits us. Once again, we talk preforms. Sacmi also reports successful sales of its IPS systems. For autumn, they are announcing a 96 cavity unit. In the factory the closure machines are working almost exclusively on one-piece caps. The market for 2 part caps is getting smaller and smaller.