Friday, April 5, 2024

Rainy Day Tourist #1

When it rains non-stop through the few hours you've set aside to visit Venice (5 April 2019)

Sunday, March 31, 2024

A Mototopo in the Bedroom

29 March 2014
 Some children want to fight fires or go to outerspace or become a teacher or doctor or professional athlete; from an early age our son was determined to become a delivery person on one of Venice's many work boats or mototopi. Actually, in his earliest years he wanted to drive a vaporetto, and would practice tossing ropes onto door handles, or around the back of a wooden chair, and then tying the door handle or chair to some other object in the room, as if tying a vaporetto up to its dock. On some days he would string so many ropes across our living room--tying a variety of objects to other objects that weren't necessarily in close proximity to one another--that it became nearly imposible to walk across it.

So it was something of a relief when he switched his career plans to mototopi. Ropes were no longer an issue, boxes were. He collected every empty box he could get his hands on, the bigger the better, as these served as the packages he had to deliver in the course of his play, while either his bed (as above) or the living room couch (unfolded into a double bed), served as a mototopo. In the image above our son stands in the steering position of his imaginary mototopo loaded with boxes, and with a real hand truck to one side. (The folded out double bed in the living room was large enough to accomodate the hand truck onboard, and was therefore more realistic, and was his delivery boat of choice.)

This was play that would keep him busy for extended periods of time, and the real hand truck he got for his 6th birthday actually came in handy in the real world. But his collection of boxes eventually got so large as to take up about half the space of his small bedroom and had to be thinned. 

I suspect that growing up in Venice is like growing up in no other place in the world. I wish more children had the chance to do so. 

Friday, March 29, 2024

Sant'Erasmo Reflections

22 March 2016

In the central distance of this image glows an open water gate in the protective flood wall erected around the agricultural island of Sant'Erasmo after the catastrophic flooding of 1966 inundated its fields with salt water, rendering the land sterile for a number of years afterwards. I've written a brief account of this before, but came upon this image again and wanted to do away with the crop I used before, and lighten the image to better show the canal's stillness and reflections. This was part of our regular boat route to the family farm where we bought our produce whenever we could, and a reminder of all the life in the lagoon that subsists still beyond the ruin visited upon Venice by Mayor Luigi Brugnaro and an administration (the latest in a long line of them) addicted to the supposedly easy money of tourism. It still amazes me that New York City has been able to implement strict regulations on AirBnB, while Brugnaro and his ilk pretend that nothing can be done in Venice to remedy the conversion of property that once housed residents into tourist accommodations, a great many of which are owned by just a few speculators. For all of its indifferent power, Nature is nowhere near as destructive as conscienceless men like Brugnaro.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

3 Scenes of A Short Sweet Life on the Grand Canal (Snow in Venice)

28 February 2018: These are shots of what I believe was the last snowfall we had in Venice until the time we left in August of 2021. When we first moved to the city in 2010 we tended to get one snowfall with some accumulation each winter, but I think we had none for the last 3 years after this day pictured--and you can see the accumulation was minimal at that. (Gee, if only there were some hypothesis about why temperatures have risen and extreme weather events are becoming ever more common, then humankind would certainly do something about it.) In any case, the small snow man above perished not from warming temperatures but from a fall into the Grand Canal from his perch when the wind came up: ashes to ashes, dust to dust, water to water, in this case. But he seemed to enjoy the view for as long as he had it.


Saturday, February 24, 2024

Fortuna In the Pink Light of Morning

24 February 2014 (I posted this 10 years ago when I took the photo, but in a version that was too dark)


Monday, February 12, 2024

Through A (Plexi)Glass, Darkly

12 February 2014

I'd forgotten entirely about the above image, taken from the twin pontile of the one you see in the right corner of the image, while I waited for the #1 line vaporetto to take me in the direction of the Lido. (You can see a bit of a reflection from the glass through which I took it on the center of the bridge and other places.)

I never seem to have the time to describe the sense of, for lack of a better word, domesticity, that one eventually comes to feel after living in Venice for a long time. Constructed as it has been over many centuries, with not an inch that was not formed by human hands, everywhere one goes in the city eventually begins to feel lived-in, like a home. But a home with an infinite number of details to discover, tones and traces of innumerable lives not one's own, and nothing like one's own, as well as those still managing somehow to make their lives there, in spite of a mayor and a broader social and economic context that can see Venice and its lagoon only in terms of quick profits and resources to be exploited unto literal collapse.

But this image brings that all back to me, and some time in the future I might get around to writing more about that, and how it extends even out into the lagoon, if one has one's own boat. 

Contrary to the age-old banalities spewed by foreign visitors about Venice being a city of melancholy and death, to live in Venice, and to raise a child there, is to be struck by the unique kind of life possible in the city and the lagoon--life like no place else on earth. I wish more people, and more children, could experience it, before it is obliterated. Only if more people were actually resident there might it stand a chance to avoid obliteration.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Remembrance of Carnevale Past, Ca' Giustinian

Interior of Ca' Giustinian decorated for children's activities held there during the Carnevale season of 2013. Now the site of Venice Biennale administrative offices, it was formerly the Hotel Europa, whose guests included Marcel Proust, Verdi, Chateaubriand, Wagner, and George Eliot, whose new husband threw himself from one of its windows and into the Grand Canal during their honeymoon there. He survived this suicide attempt and would live for another 40 years but, sadly, Eliot did not fare so well; she died a few months later in England in December 1880. (7 February 2013)