Venice doesn’t just make me happy; it makes me aware that I’m happy.
I guess that's at least partly because Venice wakes up my senses. The colorful facades of mysterious palaces where the glamour of the past somehow still lingers. The shops with their sumptuous fabrics and dazzling chandeliers. The moon over the Grand Canal. The stripes on the gondoliers’ shirts. The splash of oars against the click-clack of heels.
That click-clack of heels was among my first and most salient impressions of Venice, and I’ve never forgotten it. Every morning I wake to it, it’s like a siren song that lures me outside to add my steps to the chorus. (And, so far, the only ruin it's brought me is of a financial nature.).
Henry James wrote in The Aspern Papers (which it seemed meet to read while I was there), that Venice “resembles a theater, with actors clicking over bridges…the footways that in certain parts edge the canals assume to the eye the importance of a stage, meeting it at the same angle, and the Venetian figures, moving to and fro against the battered scenery of their little houses of comedy, strike you as members of an endless dramatic troupe."
I would add that Venice is theater with a touch of suspense. That’s part of its perennial magic. You can walk all day and never know what awaits at the next turn. Hang a left and then a right and the labyrinth might suddenly open onto a lively campo dotted with tables of people sipping aperitivi. Hang a right and then a left and you might find a small fountain with a lonesome statue at its center; or a bridge hiding a fleet of fire engines; or a neighborhood watering-hole the regulars hoped you wouldn’t find; or a jewel box of a shop you feel lucky to have discovered and selfishly hope others never do. Or you might find a dead end and have to go back. And if you get lost, so what? It's Venice. There’s always a new scene to soak in as you click-clack your way through this endlessly intriguing, living jigsaw puzzle.
So, because Venice makes me happy, I'm doing another short hymn to it. In an earlier photo-paean, I tried to capture some of the traditional beauty of the place. This second is more micro-focused, zoom-lensed on the particular and on moments in the life, if you will.
A plate of mussels* at Al Portego, one of those tiny spots some Venetians probably hoped I wouldn’t find.
My token artsy shot
A show of support for Ukraine...
A sign of solidarity with the women of Iran...
Gonna wash those despots right outta their hair.
And one banner that's long intrigued me...
Sometimes a Venetian bird doesn’t want a bath; a shower is the thing.
And sometimes a freshly showered bird wants a table inside…
but, like the rest of us, has to settle for one outside.
In the glory days, the Grand Canal was lined with frescoed buildings like these. My mind blows a circuit trying to imagine the spectacle.
High water, shmigh water. Venice will not be stopped!
Some curiosities in shops
And a winningly-named purveyor of herbal lotions and potions
A bride and a firehouse and a University, oh, my!
Sacred, meet profane. (Truly a misbegotten draping of the magnificent della Salute, partially under construction.)
Lions are a symbol of the city and a ubiquitous one. I’ve read that, if the lion’s paw rests on an open book, Venice was at peace when the statue was erected. Paw on closed book, Venice at war.
Just look at that face! Uneasy is the head…
Now back to me. Italian women my age — particular those from Venice and Rome — often wear distinctive, even eccentric, eyeglasses. I figured why not do likewise and secured two pair from Ottica Urbani.
The sunglasses are as ridiculous as they are fabulous. I don’t care.
And if you think the reading specs look familiar, let me save you some time trying to figure out where you’ve seen them. It’s on Waldo. And I still don’t care.
Maybe come spring I'll buy a gondolier shirt to complete the look.
Next post: Where's Kathy? ;)