Monday, April 3, 2017

Hodgepodge 156/365 - Venice

I worried last week when I was not settling into Rome—being self-conscious as a tourist, not feeling adventurous, getting irritated by the noise and crowds. I took some beautiful walks, and those were wholly satisfying. But as for the "sights," as defined by Rick Steves (and all the other myriad guidebooks): I found myself uninterested. I dutifully visited some of them (still haven't made it to the Colosseum!), but I ended up being more inspired by the flowering fruit trees and dome-top views than by the historical sites themselves.

Which led me to a few possible conclusions: (a) ancient remains and religious sites are not for me; I should go to places where life as it's lived today is showcased (though Israel contradicts that idea; but there, granted, I was on a tour—which makes a difference . . . and in a certain sense, Israel still lives by its ancient stories; Europe, not so much); (b) cities are not for me; I should stick to the countryside and spend my time wandering (I'm thinking here of a spectacular cross-country hike I took out of San Gimignano one time when I was here—so very happy-making!); (c) traveling on my own is not for me; I should stick to explorations with David, whom I know to be a most excellent travel companion (though that would be very limiting), or tours (no!); (d) travel, period, is no longer for me; I should stay home and, I dunno, grow a garden, walk the dog, be an old fart (no no a thousand times no!).

But this afternoon I arrived in Venice, and a few things became clear: I did not enjoy the busyness of Rome, but Venice—with no motor vehicles except the water taxis—even though busy, and definitely full of tourists, feels, I don't know, slower. Easier. And as a result, ironically, a little more alive. You've got the Carnevale mask and Murano glass stores, the pizzerias and enotecche, but they're interspersed with fabulous shoe and stationery and hardware and art supply stores. Surely the tourists are not buying bathroom sink spigots. These shops are democratic.

Maybe the difference, too, is that Venice is a maze: along the broader "streets" are the shops and eateries, all cheek by jowl; and then there are the smaller alleyways that lead into courtyards or dead-end on canals, and that's where the people live, all on foot, or by boat. Whereas in Rome, there were large expanses of tall wooden doors, formidable—with stutters of storefronts in between. And the buzz of Vespas and the army of small cars, everywhere. It was more like an armored assault there; here, everything's a sweet, slow tease.

This maze is delightful, drawing you ever on. And if you hit a canal, you just backtrack, and try again. There are no wrong turns.

I guess I'm more Venetian than Roman. That's a good thing to figure out in life, I reckon.

Here are some shots from this afternoon. I hope to look a little more closely while I'm here, but you've got to start with the obvious, right?

The view to the right (a little restaurant)
just before you enter my courtyard (to the left).

My courtyard (Corte del Tintor): my front door is
to the left of the red awning; my apartment up two flights.
The first canal I stumbled upon; it happened
to have gondolas on it. Yep.
The Doge's palace: nice sunlight.

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