Wednesday, July 23, 2014

№ 180. Venice Through Square Lenses

St. Mark's Square at  7 AM., May 2014. Pre-wedding photo tours are,
I think, trending among Chinese.  I saw a few of these
during the three day stay.  

It's been three months since the late spring visit. I finally have the time to post these itinerant snap shots.

Venice, after my first visit more than ten years ago, has lost none of its magic. It is still littered with tourists and their trash. This time there are more Chinese than Japanese and Americans combined. I was one of them.

St. Mark's appears half-emptied after the tourists dispersed,
mostly back to Mestre. Venice, May 2014.

View from the window of the Doge's Palace, May 2014

It's still very much a walking city to get lost in. I'm excellent with directions and maps. But, yes, I got lost many times wandering about while hunting down and ticking off the elusive Tripadvisor haunts.

My map was useless.

The streets on paper did not really connect with the cobblestoned reality that segue into parts unknown, unnamed and unnumbered.

Ok, let's just concede that the map was an abbreviation of an insular labyrinth. The free map the friendly concierge provided, aside from being far too tiny, was, I suspect, deliberately inaccurate. Admittedly, it was printed on a crisp, dense parchment with some Venetian sketches and art. Useless, nonetheless. I kept it as a souvenir.

Souvenirs are essential return trip hauls for the
waiting swarm back home. 

On my hunts, I didn't mind much that it got bone chilling. The narrow back alleys especially became eerily empty of tourists at seven in the evening at 18*C.

But Venice is Venice. And it would almost certainly be praying for divine plague and pestilence to complain about inconveniences. Little inconveniences, really, like the blisters on my foot after walking for two days (no choice, walking is still the best way to explore), the pretty map (again), the crowd and the lines (existential evils) and the tolls one has to pay to pee and accomplish other necessities (painful economics of traveling to a First World city).

Night view after crossing the Rialto, 8 PM, May 2014.

The sound of the bells from the San Marco Campanile was chilling in a different sense, on a different plane. Medieval and bygone are fancy words that come to mind when I remember that evening. Because there are no motorized land transportation to break the silence in the evening, it's not difficult to imagine 21st century Venice at the height of its maritime trade under the Doges during the Renaissance. The quiet and the architecture supply the imagination with the landscape of that movie-in-the-mind wonderland.

One of the secluded cafes, away from the
crowds in Rialto and St. Mark's, 9 PM, May 2014

I burned about an hour hopelessly following the arrow signs to Rialto, heading from the west alleys of St. Mark's square, getting confused, turning back and finally giving up by retracing my steps. All I found was a pasticceria with neat stacks of cork caps on the window. Interesting. Inside was a curious mix of Italian books and Americana. Nice. I couldn't resist. Even though it wasn't on my hot list.

Apparently, I was also hostage to the brewing tempest in my belly. "Man doesn't live...." Pasta, being the operative word. And bread sticks.

They serve long, thin and crackling bread sticks with an aperitif. Blessed be God.

Crowds are much thinner at night, but the tenements are still bathed in
excellent lighting for those who stay. Venice, cloaked by night,
is a different person. 10 PM, May 2014 

Food was, mercifully, fast and something to brag about aside from the ambiance and piped in music. Spaghettini in squid ink with clams. That homemade pasta was softer in texture than the dried ones---almost like egg noodles actually. It was tastier too since the broth infused it with the smell of sea and the sweet-saltiness of clams. I quickly forgot about the Adriatic cold after the food settled warmly in my middle. I wanted to kiss the chef.

I was really aiming for the popular pizzeria. It was top of the list according to the netizens. But after getting lost for the Nth time, this "Al Gobbo" was a very happy compromise for me.

Small inconveniences.

Just don't ask me to locate the "Al Gobbo". I'll just hand you my map.

One of the exhibit chambers surrounding the courtyard
of the Doge's Palace,
9 AM, May 2014.

A facade of the Doge's Palace, reflected from the doors of
Biblioteca Marciano Venezia,
10 AM, May 2014

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