Everyday Venice

One of the things that amazed me about Venice was how the Venetians live their lives in a City with few roads for cars, and instead, canals, bridges and alleyways. I was constantly stopping to watch Ambulance and Police boats whizzing down the canals with sirens and lights blaring, and builders, delivery men, and refuse collectors, wheeling barrows of stuff up and down bridges.

See the deliveries in the foreground in the boat moored by on the Grand Canal.

View from Fish Market

Then they have to wheel everything through narrow alleyways, which could be crowded with tourists, and over bridges to their destination. Imagine having a sofa delivered!

Or an everyday task of going to the supermarket to get a large trolley of groceries; there’s no unloading your groceries from the car if you live somewhere like this:

Venice doorstep?

I guess you might have a boat, but the supermarket I saw didn’t have moorings for boats outside it.

At least the bridges have railings now, but we found one to a private dwelling that didn’t:

No railing bridge

This was the canal just out the back of our hotel, and we saw a team of builders wheeling barrows down alleyways to dump rubble into a boat, that must be the equivalent of a skip:

Venice buildings12

How do they erect scaffolding? The more you think about it, the more it twists your head about how everyday life goes on there; but I guess the residents must be just used to it.

I loved the way the locals would cross the Grand Canal standing in a Traghetto as nonchalantly as if they were just waiting at a pelican crossing:

Traghetto

We didn’t try it!

The more picturesque examples of everyday life in Venice were the shrines, with fresh flowers by them everywhere:

Shrine - Fish Market

Shrine - Castello

We saw plenty of flowers at San Michele, the cemetery island:

Graves at San Michele

There is so much colour compared the cemetaries in Britain. I like how having the photos on the graves gives a real sense of the person buried there, I especially liked seeing photos of them when they were younger – it’s good to not think of the dead as being old, I reckon.

If you had lived in Venice in the time of the Doge’s, would have been an everyday thing to post any reports of misdeeds of your neighbours in the secret denunciations postbox at the Doge’s Palace:

Secret denunciations postbox

It says:

“Secret denunciations against anyone who will conceal favors and services or will collude to hide the true revenue from them”.

It is an everyday thing in Venice to have a job as a gondolier:

Gondolier at Rialto Bridge

If you live in Venice you get to see beautiful carvings every day:

Adam and Eve - Doge's Palace

Adam and Eve – Doge’s Palace

Can you believe that this is the hospital in Venice?

Hospital

Washing was hanging out to dry in the prettiest of places:

Burano washing day

Burano washing day

And who cares about supermarket shopping when the Rialto food markets look like this:

Vegetable market - Rialto

That’s fresh baby artichokes, unusual long radicchio, and cherry tomatoes on the vine from Sicily. I love how they sell the chillies like bouquets:

Chilli bouquets

Look at the fish!

Fish Market

And there’s amazing cakes and sweet shops. I bought some delicious Almond Nougat, sold like cake slices. I also tried some Pistachio Pane del Doge, which is a kind of rock cake crossed with biscotti, it was tasty, but a bit dry for me, they are the green ones with the almonds on:

Cakes

This looked like such a warm inviting shop:

Cake shop

Crazy shapes in marzipan, how about a squid?

Marzipan

Of course, I found a yarn shop:

Lella Bella yarn shop

It is Lellabella, they had some beautiful yarns and accessories. I treated myself to this:

Venice yarn

It is Filatura di Crosa, Gioiello,  this colourway made me think of the mask shops and beautiful art in Venice. I’m planning to make a Missoni style jumper with this as one of the repeating stripes.

And here is one of the many, many, many mask shops in Venice:

Mask shop

I bought another couple of souvenirs with my birthday money; a sweet velvet bag, and a glass millefiore tree pendant from Murano. I saw these velvet bags in different patterns and sizes in soft furnishing shops, and I don’t really know what they are for, maybe for filling with lavender to scent drawers and wardrobes, if anyone knows, please tell me?

My souvenirs

At this time of year Venice is plagued by the Acqua Alta, a high tide that floods many of the low lying streets and squares, including St. Mark’s Square:

St. Mark's Square - Acqua Alta

It recedes like a normal tide, so it’s not there all day, but can get quite deep in places. The tourist shops sell folding plastic wellies quite cheaply:

Wellies - Acqua Alta

There are also boardwalks erected in key areas:

Boardwalk - Acqua Alta

We survived without wellies, and skipped around the edges of large puddles, and enjoyed working out alternative routes to get about. Unfortunately we fell foul of it on our penultimate day, when we needed to move our luggage to a hotel closer to the bus station. We managed to keep out luggage dry, but we had cold wet feet. The tourists have a cheery “Dunkirk spirit” approach to the Acqua Alta, after all they are on holiday, but it must be a right pain for the residents, just trying to get to work.

Dry feet - Acqua Alta

I reckon the best present for a Venetian is a good pair of wellies! I didn’t see any crazy festival type wellies in the shops or worn in the streets, perhaps someone is missing a retail opportunity there? It must be hard on the properties too, many of them have clamp on flood barricades across the bottom of the front doors to keep the worst of it out.

Our penultimate day, despite the wet feet, had it’s rewards: on our way back into the centre of Venice from our new hotel, the Vaporetto (water bus) we were on was told to stay at our stop by a police boat ahead. The Vaporetto driver and his mate looked a bit fed up, they must have schedules to stick to, but all us tourists were delighted to see a parade of gondolas heading our way:

Carnival Gondolas

I hoped we would see some carnival action at the end of our stay, as it was the start of the Carnival season. This was a small event as part of the Rialto Festival, but it was marvellous to see it. It seemed like a few locals had knocked some costumes together and jumped into some boats, and it looked a lot more precarious than carnival parades in the UK.

I like that the man at the head of this boat is taking a selfie!

Carnival Selfie

The parade got more precarious as the police boat had gone, and our vaporetto launched itself back out into the Grand Canal, head on into the tail end of the parade. There was some pretty sharp paddling going on to get out of our way!

We enjoyed seeing more people in costumes for the rest of the day:

Carnival Costumes

It was all very colourful.

And so sadly we said goodbye to Venice. We left at 5.30 am from the ugliest square in Venice – Piazzale Roma, which made it a little easier to leave. Luckily we didn’t have this kind of leaving view:

Sun over San Salute

There will be more blog posts this week as I am launching 3 new knitting pattern designs ready for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival.

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