Act 2, Scene 22
|My first day in Venezia (Venice)
and I already have so much to say I'm not sure where to start. The bipolar
descriptions of "beautiful" and "nasty" simultaneously
apply. The canals are a pretty green from afar, but up close I spot 2 water
bottles, an oil spill, a piece of a wooden tobacco pipe, several cigarette
butts, some tape and some sewage. But its all floating in the wake
of a marvelous gondola, long, sleek, black, carved wooden bow, the gondolier
poling it along almost silently. The buildings are wonderful, stuccoed in
but pastels and yellows, but look a little closer and you can see the water
damage - on the second story shutters.
On one hand Id warn you to stay out of the main strip and square in the afternoon. Hordes of day-tripping tourists pack the place beyond capacity.
|On the other hand, if you do get off the main street you'll be immediately and hopelessly lost. But on yet another hand youll be lost in the charming, quiet, half-deserted neighborhoods of Venezia the tourists never see.|
As you struggle through the
main street youll pass the same four stores over and
over again. Three of these sell cheap glass trinkets not worth looking
at, the kind of crap you give as Christmas gifts to a cousin you never see
the rest of the year.
But one in four is a shop with works of delight the most incredible
glass sculptures and dishes I have ever seen. The other three out of four
shops are obviously poor imitators, just cheap knock-offs for cheap tourists.
Oh Italia! thou has
Four hours later Venezia is
As is often the case, Mark
Twain said it best:
And that was a hundred years ago. The population has been in serious decline ever since. Aside from the expense of living there, the only mass transit is the slow water bus and walking everywhere gets rather tiresome. There are no shortcuts either. The canals cut off any logical arrangement of the roads so that you'll trek for kilometers, cutting back and forth countless times until you're totally turned around. Round the next corner and you'll find a dead end and have to try to find your way back to the turn you missed. To make matters worse, some creative vandals have altered all the road signs so you have to look carefully to avoid misdirection. I was lost more times in the first day than I've been lost cumulatively in my entire life.
But I won’t have to warn you for much longer. The place is sinking into the lagoon at something like an inch a year. It currently floods 100 days out of 365 and there are pictures everywhere of Piazza San Marco, St. Mark’s Square, under two feet of water and tour groups trekking across makeshift boardwalk bridges to see the sites. There's a plan to build some high tech levy system in an effort to stop the floods, but there's disagreement about whether it'll actually work or not, even if they can afford to do it.
Despite the romantic feel of the place at night, there's no real reason to spend more than a night or two there. Theres just not that much to see.
Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
houses the lovely Assumption by Titian. Its not the easiest church
to find, but then nothing in Venezia is easy to find (except Piazza San
Marco just follow the crowds.)
Scuola Grande di San Rocco, The Big School of Saint Roch, houses some paintings by Tintoretto and others, but in my opinion the wooden sculptures by Franceso Pianti Jr. around the upper floor were the coolest thing in the place. Unfortunately they werent lit well enough to get a good photo so I had to pick up a couple of postcards in the gift shop.
The water bus ride down the Grand Canal was a joy by night. But really the best parts of Venezia are the picturesque little scenes you just stumble across at random.
When we trekked across town
to find the hostel Heathers friend Jen was staying at we saw the
most beautiful scenes of canals and fading baroque beauty. Romantic stuff.
Lena boarded a train to Amsterdam and Heathers friend Jen was beat from her jetlag. So Heather and I had the latter part of the evening to ourselves. We settled on the only restaurant we could find that was open after dark (it took us over an hour to find one) and had a couple glasses of vino.
A poem by Mary Coleridge, from
Poems, sets the mood right:
Both Heather and I were quite
distracted. Neither one of us were in a good mood at all. Heather dreaded
returning to the States and facing her worries.
I was worried about how much
fun she was going to have without me as she ran amok across Greece and
France and Switzerland, and further worried about what would happen when
next we met back in the States.
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All original content on this site is owned by Degenerate Press and cannot be used without our permission. We have lawyers for friends with nothing better to do than cause trouble (no kidding), so play nice. Copyright © 2002, All Rights Reserved