Thursday, 7 February 2013

Venice

Yesterday at Wensleydale Writers' Group we had our annual postcard morning.   The chairman deals out a face-down postcard to each member of the group (twelve yesterday) and we then have half an hour to write about it.   If we really don't like the card we are given we can change it - but I was quite happy with mine - a card showing a line of bridges over a canal in Venice, all of them reflected in the water of the canal.   Some of you have suggested I put it on my blog for you to read, so here it is:

Reflections.

How lucky is that?   A photograph of my favourite place in the whole world - Venice.   My first visit, forty years ago, remains one of the most magical visits of all my tours abroad over the years.

We stayed in a Pensione called Il Buccintoro, close by the Arsenale
and facing on to the lagoon.   It was late October and there were few visitors.   The weather was warm and hazily sunny, perfect for exploring the city and the islands.

In the mornings we were woken by the sound of school children walking along to school at eight o'clock, satchels swinging as they laughed and chattered. Occasionally a large ship would slip past our window on its way up the channel.   Otherwise in my memory it was silent.

We would go into San Marco every morning, whatever we had planned for the day, because we never tired of looking at this beautiful building with its decorated golden walls.   Amusingly, one morning, we needed to buy something (I forget what) from a particular shop and I worked out how to ask an official in the cathedral if he could tell me where the shop was.   My Italian must have been pretty awful because he took us behind the altar and showed us the finger bone of a dead saint!

We would go to Rialto on the vaporetto and wander round the fish stalls, looking at incredible fish, the likes of which we had never seen before.   We would ride up and down the Grand Canal, marvelling at the  Palaces and the tiny gardens.   And then we would go into St Mark's Square and sit at Florian's drinking exorbitantly-priced coffee, but worth it to be so near the Campanile bell and the clock where every hour, on the hour, automata would come out and perform their ritual .  It was all quite magical.

One of the highlights was to queue at La Fenice theatre - a wooden structure which had stood for hundreds of years - to get seats for the Shanghai Opera - such an experience. Sadly the theatre burned to the ground a few years later.

Two years ago the farmer and I went back.   He had never been before but had listened to me singing the praises of my favourite city - and looking at the pictures I have of Venice dotted around the farmhouse.   He was distinctly underwhelmed.

The crowds to see inside San Marco stretched way down the Lagoon and the waiting time for entry was two hours.   Once you got inside you were shepherded round quickly and told to keep moving (we didn't go in).   There was a high tide and St Mark's Square was flooded - the water came up through the drains and there was a faint smell.  I shalln't go back again.

Now all I have to remind me, apart from the paintings and the photographs, is a small oval tin which held Chocolate Pastilles and which I bought there.   The pastilles are long gone - now it houses my needles and a thimble.

 

20 comments:

Dave King said...

I am green with envy. Venice is the one place on my must list that I have not managed to visit. Thanks for the beautiful account.

When I first retired I attended an art group for a while. One of the visiting artists used the post card idea a couple of times. I was delighted with the results.

MorningAJ said...

Weaver that's wonderful!

Some years ago I spent a week on the Venetian Riviera and had a couple of trips into the city. Once with my (distinctly underwhelmed) ex and once on my own. I know which I preferred. (Perhaps that's why he's my ex. :) )

This has brought back so many memories - not least the expensive coffee! Thank you.

Rachel said...

I liked your Venice reflections. I like Venice too and have been several times, my first visit was 2003. I now go regularly with a painting group and sometimes on my own. I like going when alone in November or February when it is cold and foggy (not a popular time of year with my painting friends!) It is possible to avoid the crowds by going a little further away from St Marks. Sometimes I just buy a vaporetto pass and spend my days going up and down the Grand Canal jumping off at less popular stops. You can soon lose the crowds.

George said...

What a wonderful, evocative remembrance, Pat. I have spent several fortunes myself at the Cafe Florian. Few places, however, resonate in the memory like my first visit to Venice in 1963 when I was only twenty-one.

Gerry Snape said...

what a great idea...and what a wonderfully enlightening description of your visit...makes me want to go Pat!

Mac n' Janet said...

I remember Venice from the late 70's and I'm sure I wouldn't want to go back. Too many tourists, but then I feel the same way about London. We visit England frequently, but almost never spend any time in London.

Heather said...

A magical post Pat - your written piece brings Venice to life. I have never been and am certain that my husband's reaction would echo that of the farmer, so I will read your piece again and enjoy my own quiet visit. Thankyou for sharing your lovely memories with us.

Canadian Chickadee said...

What a wonderful memoir. And how sad that things had changed so drastically by the time you were able to show your husband your favourite place.

Alas, that's one of the chancy things about marriage. It would be wonderful if we truly saw eye-to-eye on things, but sadly, we often don't.

But I do think much can be mitigated if one just looks for the good and praises it -- Pollyanna that I am! :o)

acornmoon said...

Tony and I visited Venice two years ago. We went in September and managed to avoid the crowds around St Marco. We found some lovely quiet areas around Acadamia.

acornmoon said...

Tony and I visited Venice two years ago. We went in September and managed to avoid the crowds around St Marco. We found some lovely quiet areas around Acadamia.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

Lovely - it seems like we were right there with you - through both visits - but I preferred the first visit much more.

angryparsnip said...

I too remember Venice. My favorite memory was just walking down narrow streets which open to small squares, sometimes with fountains. little shops all around and possible a restaurant or two. Then down another street and another square, perfect.

cheers, parsnip

Pam said...

Thanks for sharing your lovely piece of writing Pat. Husband and I travelled as young backpackers in the days before the queues, and yes we enjoyed Venice, so you brought back memories for me here . Queues seem to be rife now in travel, whether in the international airports or sites everyone wants to see, so glad we did these things when we were younger. Travelling overseas recently we have noticed such a change.

Cloudia said...

you had a lucky turn with Venice, and were perhaps mistaken to try and return to that magic. . . . but try and try we do!

Lovely, and wrapped up very nicely, discreetly, tactile: I can see, hear and feel that little tin!

Sending YOU Aloha
from Honolulu,
Comfort Spiral
~ > < } } ( ° >

Gwil W said...

On the Zatterre almost all the small local shops have closed; the baker, the butcher, the grocer, the greengrocer, and now in their place are many souvenir shops catering to trudging bands of cruise ship passengers on their way to Guggenheim and other museums. The Venetian now has to shop like the rest of the world in in the nearest supermercato. The whole character of the place is rapidly changing. No wonder the residents, what few that are left, are in despair. There's even talk about moving the University to the mainland. It's all very sad.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Sad that it has come to this in so many tourist places - and I suppose we all contribute to it by going there. But I am glad I have happy memories. Thanks for calling.

Dominic Rivron said...

Totally off topic, but have you come across Emma Fountain? She's a local artist who makes things out of felt. I saw a hare she'd made today. She blogs:

http://emmafountain.blogspot.co.uk/

ArtPropelled said...

Your first visit sounds like bliss. Such a pity it has changed.

Country Gal said...

A wonderful post .

Golden West said...

What a great read!