Notes from a Summer Tour Part 2: Venice, Italy

As our ferry from the bus depot churned past Venice on the way to our hotel, I instantly fell in love.  From afar the island is gorgeous collection of ancient buildings cobbled together on an enchanting, albeit fragile, land-raft in the sea.  A Venetian on the ferry told me the buildings were different colors because back in the day the fisher men would return home from the day’s hunt wasted and need to know which house was theirs.  Venice is obviously millennia past it’s time as a fishing village, but maybe I’ve finally found my answer to the difference in colors of houses in the third world to the grey-ness of most major metropolises.  Passing Palazzo Ducale, I got my first glimpse of the crushing hordes of tourists as even from a few hundred feet I could see the wandering herd of sight seers taking in the Doge’s Palace exterior.  Even so, I was drawn in.  The view from the ferry reminded me of an establishing shot from Star Wars.  An alien city with decaying beauty in the background and a myriad of ships zooming or chugging about around us.  Vessels from paddle-powered rafts to sleek yachts shared the waterway in some mysterious synchronicity.  For all it’s Disneyworld-esque annoyances, Venice is an ancient example of my favorite kind of towns.  Crossroad of the world (in it’s heyday), nexus of cultures, port-o-call extraordinaire.

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6/28_Lido di Venizia

Our hotel is on a separate island from Venice proper, and I have found my haven for the next time I’m back in the area.  Lido is a narrow strip of land separating Venice and the surrounding islands from the Adriatic Sea. At points you can look to your right to the Adriatic and to your left the lagoon that surrounds Venice. The 5 mile long stretch of beaches are covered in a grid of peculiarly uniform cabanas, eliminating any sense of seclusion, but even that creates a feeling of nostalgia.  Between the cabanas, lack of english spoken, and common ages being the retired or high-school aged, I get the vibe that this is the Jersey Shore of northeast Italy.  Not the “Jersey Shore” of Seaside Heights, but the Shore of my childhood.  More like Avalon than Wildwood.  This sleepy oceanside stretch seems to be where middle class families go in the summer for a week with all the kids and have vacation.  There isn’t much going on here, at least not near our hotel, Hotel Petit Palais, but I like it.  At night after the last restaurant shuts, all there is to do is enjoy the waves lapping up, cool darkness and which ever company you happen to have.  I love my room over looking the Adriatic, and have consistently had happy moments when I turn over in bed at dawn and see the big sun bubbling up from the water outside my window.  I keep meaning to take pictures, but fuck it.  To watch the sun breach the horizon of an infinite sea, and then curl back to sleep is one of the finest pleasures on earth.

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6/29_Last days in Venice

The short week in Venice/Lido has been pretty damn cool.  As much as I hate crowds and cheesy tourists spots, Venice is undeniably magical.  We’ve been shooting in the most heavily trafficked parts of La Serenissima, and I’m consistently surprised by the little pockets of dreamlike beauty.  It’s a running joke, but every time we come to a bridge (which is about every 20 feet), it’s another picture-esqe view.  Gondolas drifting past, couples kissing, ramshackle buildings perched precariously on the little canals’ edge.  It’s high season and all, and I shouldn’t be surprised, but the lack of real estate and expense of living on this island creates a vacuum for a chill, cheap place to eat drink or be merry. Don’t get me wrong, you will eat, drink and be merry, it just won’t be cheap.  I think my favorite spot was Osteria Doge Morosini in Campo Santo Stephano .  Don’t know why.  Just another place we had lunch at, had a spritz and seafood salad.  Probably not there for more than 45 minutes.  It had personality that other places on the island didn’t.  Can’t explain it, but will go back if I return to Venice.  I hope to.    Image

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Venice’s history and the architecture/art that comes with it is mesmerizing.  Home port to Marco Polo, major stop for the lucrative spice trade, home turf for the insanely rich and a unique culture for a time.  An ancient power house that controlled trade for a few centuries and reveled in its greatness long after world trends had passed her by.  Venice danced herself into decay.  I can’t help but think about the fact that all great civilizations decline, and wonder how much longer the US of A has at the head of the table.  I suppose I can only hope our prestige is equally preserved and revered as it is here in La Serenissima.

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Tomorrow starts our off week before Berlin.  I’m honestly exhausted.  Looking forward to Alexa landing, good cheap meals, romantic days and thoroughly enjoying La Dulce Vida.

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