Friday, November 11, 2011

Postcard from Venice...

(3 October 2011)

Does anyone remember the name of that creepy film where Donald Sutherland is slowly going mad and chasing around Venice after a small figure in a bright red cape that he thinks is his dead daughter, only for it to be a midget serial killer who stabs him in a lonely alley? 

That cheery scene was going through my head tonight as I wandered around Venice, weighing up how safe it was to walk around on my own at night. I've gotten so used to Spanish hours, where you don't even think about eating dinner until 10 pm and there's kids out playing in the streets at midnight on a school night, and it was a bit of a shock to realise that maybe the rest of Europe isn't like that. So I had dinner at what now seems like an oddly early hour, 8.30 pm, dining on gnocchi in a scampi and rucola salsa, then went for a stroll, not intending to go to far from home. 

I didn't have to walk far though to feel perfectly safe, as there were lots of people out and about enjoying the warm night. So I let my feet guide me, and they didn't guide my wrong taking me to an excellent gelati shop for a late night, icy, chocolate treat. 

I arrived in the city of carnivale, gondolas and bridges this afternoon and am staying in a B&B that belongs to a friend of a friend. It's a lovely house, right on the canal in Santa Croce, a bit away from the hustle and bustle of San Marco. There is a courtyard garden on the edge of the canal and I sat there this afternoon drinking presco with my host. 

The house is really lovely, all the windows are made up of multi-coloured discs of murano glass, and open out onto the canal or the street. The outside of the house itself is a soft red that I always associate with the Mediterranean, and there is marble throughout the house and turkish rugs on the floor. It is grand without being opulent or overpowering. I'll take some photos tomorrow, but all I have tonight is this photo from my bedroom onto the canal. You might think looking at this that the city is shrouded in fog, I just don't know how to use the night setting on my camera. Mind you, it does bring to mind that Donald Sutherland flick rather well though, doesn't it?

I'm here for a couple of days, and I do have a mission, apart from eating pasta and gelati. I'm going to the Island of Murano tomorrow to see if I can find a couple of glass discs for the vintage chandelier in my apartment. I bought it at a Queanbeyan junk shop about six years ago, it's a very 60s piece, all overlapping glass discs that Austen Powers would love. I finally got around to researching it earlier this year and discovered that it is a very collectable piece from a Murano factory. How and why it came to be in a Queanbeyan junk shop is a story I would love to know. Maybe the Italian ambassador in the 60s brought it out to Canberra and it shone light on all sorts of political intrigues in the Cold War. The poor thing was probably then a victim to an embassy redecoration sometime in the last forty years. Anyway it now adorns my very 60s style apartment, and no doubt feels right at home, except for the times I've done yoga underneath it and knocked the discs off. A couple were already broken when I bought it, so my mission is to see if I can replace them. If I can, the next part of my mission will be to see how I ship them home safely...

I was last in Venice 15 years ago, and it's a very different, and much more elegant, experience this time round, as I'm not sleeping in a hostel dormitory and I can afford to eat out at restaurants. As I sat, sipping preseco in a private garden, overlooking the canal I realised there are some benefits to growing up after all. 

I also realised that I'm a mosquito magnet. 

I do suffer mosquito bites at home, and I'm popular at BQs because the mozzies hone in on me and ignore the other guests. 

And I suppose it's not surprising that in a city made up of semi-brackish water, that the mosquito was going to evolve a particularly nasty bite. And for some reason I am ambrosia to mosquitoes, my blood must be particularly tasty. That naturally made me think about a Dr Who episode from last year "The Vampires of Venice", another reason why I hesitated to be wandering around on my own after sunset. 

But I had no reason to fear, not even the street hawkers hassled me, one was trying to get me to buy a spinning top that lit up and flew into the air, but even he laughed when I rather acidly pointed out I wasn't five years old and wasn't impressed!

Well off to bed, I'm a bit disappointed I can't hear any gondoliers serenading me to sleep, but I suppose you can't have everything. 

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