Venice . . . as the day begins

Ah Venice, La Serenissima, you temptress, you beauty, you moody city on the water. It never loses its attraction – Venice is a living city that is hounded and trampled on by thousands of tourists every year, her waters are cruised by mega-liners that dwarf and threaten the low-rise city silhouette and the Grand Canal has so many boats washing the waters to the foundations of the ancient buildings that you would think the whole place would crumble in a minute.
Flooded by ‘aqua alta, a natural phenomenon that has occurred for centuries when especially high tides force water from the Adriatic into the Venetian lagoon. This happens about four times a year and especially during winter. (Walking platforms are erected and the water normally drains off by midday. Take your wellies.)
St Mark’s Square under water – extra hands on deck needed to keep the tourists dry.
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But not so. ‘Venice is sinking’; has been the harbinger of doom for a couple of centuries but she still stands. Admittedly, she’s high maintenance and her upkeep is costly – but – still standing.
And Venice is expensive and complicated. But let’s look away from the seductive beauty for a minute and peek beneath the practicalities of this city:
* All the food consumed on the islands has to be brought in from the mainland. Deliveries continue all day long with boats carrying crates of fruit and veg – and remember – this is Italy, and fresh food every day is on the table! The fish – and what a mighty fine display for piscatorial indulgence is being snapped up at the Rialto markets and being delivered at dawn each day.

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Top: best from the local market; early morning window cleaning – all the shops are spic and span; above: picking up the trash.

* Much of the breads and pastries are made in-house – but all the ingredients have a high price as they are delivered by hand after a journey from all over the country.
* Those crisp linen towels, tablecloths and napkins that we enjoy in hotels and restaurants are all taken off the islands to laundries for cleaning – imagine the number of items that leave here and have to be delivered back again to the restaurants and hotels.
* And the garbage. Large bags have to be transported every day off the island – and there’s a lot of it. Interesting is the fact that the locals – and there are 60,000 residents here, who lower their bags down on little pulleys as there are rarely any lifts (elevators) in any of the buildings except the big hotels. Men, running through the tiny lanes with carts, pick the bags up and take them to the boats. And the empty bottles – not all mine either.

Bagsdropped down over night to be picked up by the garbos.

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When you leave the touristy areas of Venice – and discover the life of the city beyond a gondola ride and an aperitif on a balcony overlooking the Grand Canal – there’s the domestic hum and buzz like any other city,.
And the locals! Someone said that if anyone is seen running or jogging around Venice, they are tourists. Venetians and all who work here do not need to do this. Because all of Venice is walkways and canals – there is no transport at all – except for the feet. You don’t see any overweight Venetians, they are lean and wiry. The older folk here, with or without walking sticks, tread slowly, firmly and determinedly as they stick to the right sides of the walls of the lanes and alleys; younger people with high heels, or flat shoes, walk everywhere briskly, and anyone delivering or removing anything by cart – runs.

Morning delivery.

I had two days of blinding beauty under an unseasonal bright blue autumn sky in the city and was fortunate enough to head out early in the morning as Venice was waking up. Start your walk early in the morning and you’ll feel the rhythm of the streets and lanes start to crank up. The side of the city that we don’t see is working hard to give the visitors the true elegant, charming, Venetian experience.

So where do you think those pristine sheets came from, who ironed your pillow cases, who delivered the wine, and who is taking out the trash today?
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Writer Bev Malzard first visited Venice in a misty, cold February years ago and likes to go back in autumn or winter to avoid the crazy crowds and the stifling heat contained within the lanes. A journey across the lagoon through the moody blues of the winter day will take you to the pretty islands – yet again, without the crowds.
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6 thoughts on “Venice . . . as the day begins

  1. As much as I love Venice, ending up there at the height of the summer season (which is sometimes unavoidable) fills me with dread. The most bizarre sight I remember is a squadron of Tour de France wannabees, outfitted in lycra and cleated shoes, their racing bikes hoisted on shoulders, wrestling through the narrow laneways and bridges on the route between St Marks Square and the Rialto Bridge, which was already crowded shoulder-to-shoulder with tourists. I have no idea where they were going but, wherever it was, it was a pretty fair bet they wouldn’t be riding any of the way. Over the years, I think I may have transferred my love for Venice to Florence but, of course, it’s even hotter there in Summer. And the one thing Florence doesn’t have is the Lido; a beach, and one with sand instead of pebbles, makes one forgive just about anything.

    Liked by 1 person

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