Saturday, May 6, 2017

A Backward Glance

In the image above a gondoliere deftly backs his boat one-handed down Rio de San Barnaba in the direction of the Grand Canal. This area is perhaps most famous these days as the setting for the Katharine Hepburn film Summertime. The little antique shop owned by her love interest in the film is now a toy shop, worth checking out, and Rio de San Barnaba itself is the canal into which she takes a memorable pratfall--from which she emerged in real life with an eye infection that would bother her for the rest of her long life.

As the weather warms and some few tourists begin to treat the historic center as though it's Cabo San Lucas (yesterday I had my first sighting of the season of an undressed couple with two large bottles of beer reclining alongside the Grand Canal on the pavement of Campo San Samuele as if it were a beach), I only wish more of them knew of the possible ill effects of going for a swim in the open sewage system that is the city's canals.


  1. Honestly, if someone hasn't been taught how to respect the culture and the inhabitants of a city that they're visiting, they deserve to spend days on the toilet, praying for a merciful death. Schadenfreude and karma.

    1. There are parts of the city now in which one hardly sees any residents, Chapps, and in such contexts it's the tourists and the tourist industry that dictate the "culture" of the place in the absence of any inhabitants. I've literally walked out my door where we live near the Rialto and walked for 5 minutes before seeing a single resident in the streets--all tourists. And if these tourists haven't bothered to learn the first thing about the city--many haven't--it's not surprising that they might see the sun and the water and automatically think "beach town", as crazy as that may seem to people with even a slight sense of history. And, alas, that a-historicized "party town" vibe is one which the city administration certainly tolerates, and I think sometimes may even encourage.