Published: May 17th 2012May 16th 2012
Correction: Yesterday I failed to mention in addition to spending ONE week here for a course, my mother spent an additional THREE weeks living here last year (one of three previous trips to Venice before this one), which begins to explain the astonishing knowledge of Venice and its art. And churches.
Big storm last night. Apparently, in Italy, the day you arrive somewhere the weather is great, then your first night there's a thunderstorm and the second day is cold and cloudy and you have to go to a bunch of churches and museums. I think my mother has a deal with Zeus.
Our bedrooms have skylights and it was very pleasant to lay in bed this morning and listen to the howling wind and pit pat of rain on my skylight. This resulted in a very late rise around ten o'clock for both my mother and I. This is exactly what used to happen when we would go camping as a family fifteen years ago. Dad would wake up four hours before anyone else, make a fire, make coffee on the fire, read the newspaper, the fire would die out, make a new fire with the newspaper, and
a second pot of coffee, then the rest of us would get out of our tents. Fortunately just the coffee and newspaper part was reenacted here.
Tasty breakfast. Shower in tub. Not sure what normal people do, but for bathing here we have a narrow tub with a little mobile shower head. I had a 15cm deep bath in my own filth, then rinsed off.
It was only 10 degrees today, so we had to wear a lot of layers. Once we finally got out of the house and got going, we went to the church next door, the Madonna dell'Orto. There was a neat little room full of chalices collected by a patron of the church through the 20th century, some of the chalices dating back to the thirteenth century. It brought a lot of Monty python and the holy grail quotes to mind. Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelled of elderberries.
Sandwich stop at a great little place. It's very important not to look at art on an empty stomach. I had a panchetta, Brie and tomato baguette panini. My mother had two bizarre but tasty looking sandwiches (white bread with the
crusts cut off is standard here, and then they make a little mountain of filling and seal the bread around it), and there was strawberry cheesecake and tiramisu for dessert.
All the way across town to the academia museum. This had lots of terrific and weird art. I like weird things in classic art, like a table scene where one guy is staring in horror at his spoon like there's a wodge of snot on it, or a bunch of dignified men in a group but one looks like a cross-eyed John Malkovitch.
After the museum we needed more refreshments, so we went to our favorite square for spritzes and potato chips, and then a gelato for dad and I. We watched the same group of children play and took photos of them from the exact same chairs we sat in at the same cafe as yesterday. Interpol will probably pick us up tomorrow. We even started naming them: Dapper Baby, Sturdy Baby, Soccer Boys, Dapper Dad, Fatty.
We picked up ingredients for a delicious dinner and headed home. On the way I saw something of Venice I had only dreamed of. In nightmares. If you haven't
seen the classic Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie film Don't Look Now, this will make no sense, so I'll help you out. In the movie, the lead character's daughter drowns while wearing a red raincoat. Her parents go to Venice to recover from the tragedy, but it's not long before they start seeing a small figure in a red raincoat running through the tiny streets of Venice. I won't spoil the ending, but the effect of the movie is to make a small figure in a red coat running through the dingy backstreets of Venice super creepy. This movie had such an effect on my brother that it's the reason he didn't come on this trip. Well, that's a complete lie, he had to work, but I'm pretty sure in the back of his mind he would have been watching out for her. I had thought of getting a little red raincoat and posing in a bunch of pictures and then sending them to him anonymously, but I've spent too much time in churches to pull it off. It turns out I didn't need to, because I've found the real thing. This tiny old crone in a red coat wandering
around near the canal (though not in one of the creepy side streets we've dubbed "murder holes"). She did catch me with my camera pointed in her direction and she yelled at me. I wonder if she knows why everyone who's seen Don't Look Now tries to photograph her. You're welcome, Max.
Dinner was delicious. We made spaghetti with vegetables and Parmesan cheese and wine and olives. After dinner it was off to St. Mark's square, the drawing room of all Europe. We went at night to avoid all the tourists. St. Mark's square is defined thusly:
Piazza San Marco (often known in English as St Mark's Square), is the principal public square of Venice, Italy, where it is generally known just as "the Piazza". All other urban spaces in the city (except the Piazzetta and the Piazzale Roma) are called "campi" (fields). The Piazzetta (the 'little Piazza') is an extension of the Piazza towards the lagoon in its south east corner. The two spaces together form the social, religious and political centre of Venice and are commonly considered together. It is one of the few great urban spaces in Europe where human voices prevail over the sounds
of motorized traffic. Most of those human voices belong to fat Americans.
Despite traveling through some of the murder holes we returned safely from our night walk. Tomorrow we're getting up early to go to the fish market.
Important counts from today
Gelatos: 1 (caramel)
Albino pigeons: 1
There are more photos below