Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A Dog About Town: A Short Video on "Venice's Greatest Living Explorer"

In the course of researching my recent post on Sandro the dog who takes vaporetti around town by himself--http://veneziablog.blogspot.it/2015/12/venices-greatest-living-explorer-is.html--I recorded one of the conversations I had with Nicola Grossi, his owner. I did this simply for myself, as raw material from which to write the piece, and so that I didn't miss anything important that Nicola might say because my Italian comprehension is far from perfect.

On one of the other occasions that I met with Nicola and Sandro I did some very perfunctory tests of what it might be like to try to film Sandro as he made his way around the city (with and without Nicola). The camera I use, a Fujifilm X-T1, is marvelous for still images, but generally not recommended for video. And in fact I'd really never even tried to record video with it. But after experimenting with whether a small video camera on Sandro's collar might record some interesting clips--it didn't--I thought I'd see if it would even be possible to follow him with a hand-held video camera.

I was less concerned about the quality of the video than with whether I could even keep up with Sandro as he made his way through the streets.

The answer was: not really. And the video I ended up with was, like the audio, useful to me in thinking about the piece if for nothing else.  
But as I listened and re-listened to Nicola talking about Sandro on the audio recording I'd made I was struck as much by how he recounted tales of Sandro--the rhythm and pacing and emphases--as by what he recounted. His manner of speaking seemed as informative--and as entertaining--as his content.

It seemed a shame that I'd be the only one to hear it. And once I decided that perhaps the audio was an important part of the story, I looked to see if there were any video clips that, whatever their own flaws, might still somehow pair well with the audio. To give a brief but evocative sense of Sandro and Nicola and their life together.

And so I ended up with the short video (with English subtitles) above of Nicola talking about Sandro, and Sandro (and a bit of Nicola) making his way around the Rialto, as the business of an ordinary weekday begins in earnest during the city's brief off-season.


  1. I'll watch for him next trip! Does Sandro like particular treats!?

    1. I have a feeling, Helen, that Sandro is a dog with catholic tastes (in the broad-ranging rather than religious sense)!

  2. Hello we are in Venice and would like to see Sandro... is he around?