Posted by: jeanne | January 17, 2017

settling in – venice

okay, so we’ve been here four days, and it’s really slipping by already.  our agenda, our pace, our experience is much different this time.  this was brought home when we took the vaporetto two days ago, and saw an english family here for the first time.  we knew it was their first time because they couldn’t wipe the smiles off their faces as they watched the palazzi go by.  they were so pleased.  we were so pleased the first time.  i felt quite nostalgic, and very over it.  i remember that my pleasure in sharing my pleasure quickly became irritation at the silly cow tourists who just stood there beaming and got in the way of everyone who had somewhere to go.  but now i just move out of their way and remember that i was like that too, and even manage a smile at their obvious pleasure.

our house is the tallish pink building behind jim and connor

the morning after we arrived, i guess that was thursday, we woke up in our new home, drew the shutters back, made coffee and sat in bed looking out our window, across the canal.  what really woke us up was the godawful racket the trash collectors made as they gathered all the trash around campo san polo – an enormous area of shops and dwellings – brought it down to our campiello in rattling aluminum carts, and hoisted the carts into the boat with a large crane that made loads of motor noise.  at 8 in the morning.  nobody in the reviews of the apartment mentioned the trash collection that happens six days a week, so it was quite a surprise.  there’d been the noises of boats moving down our canal (rio san polo) since early in the morning, and the friendly shouts of the boatmen and their coworkers aboard the boats.  and every time a boat passed, the wake would burble as it hit the stones, and the tied-up boat just on the other side of the campiello would bump rhythmically against its pole.  when this happened in the middle of the night, i originally thought it was the residents upstairs coming home late at night, clumping up one step at a time.  but no, it was the canal.

this is the view from our kitchen window; i’m currently painting it

turns out there’s nobody else in our house.  it’s three floors, three large apartments, and we’re the only ones here.  across the campiello there’s only a woman on the second floor, and a couple at the edge of the campiello on the ground floor, who still have their xmas lights up and shining gaudily, long after epiphany.

this is the view from the living room; jim is currently drawing it

the garbage collectors moved off after 9 am, and then it was delivery boats coursing up and down the canal until the afternoon.  we don’t mind it at all.  that’s why we chose an apartment on a canal; not just for the view, but for the sounds, the reflections, the palazzi across the way.  we’re indulging our senses here in venice, and that includes noise that would otherwise drive me around the bend.
here’s the other view from our living room.  that there is the grand canal

to the right is our building, across the canal is as yet unidentified palazzo

we went to the local supermarket, the coop (pronounced cope) late the night before for necessities – milk, cereal, coffee, flour to make bread (i brought my yeast, breadpan, and bread knife – wonder what they thought when they went thru our bags (because they did, and left nice little printed notices telling us so)).  the guy at the register, whose mom is american, found connor absolutely delightful, made him give high fives, called him tender names in italian – connor has that effect on everyone.  connor, for his part, took one look at the kinder eggs he was so fond of last time, and wouldn’t shut up.  but i’d already found that they’re too expensive one at a time, so i told him he would have to wait.

the first day we were here we took a backpack and walked to rialto market for dinner things.  it’s less than a 20 minute walk from our house.  btw, the house is off the well beaten path from piazale roma to rialto, the path every single tourist traverses on their voyage thru venice.  you turn off the path at the campanile of san polo church, down a little street that’s only as wide as your spread out elbows, turn once, dogleg once, and then turn again and walk thru a sotoportego (tunnel), past a pozzo (wellhead), and thru a gap into our campiello, then thru a locked gate, thru a locked front door, up a flight of steps and you’re there.  just in case you come visiting.

at rialto market we were kind of late, and they were already closing down.  it might have been 2pm (we got a late start:  jetlag).  so we got a little fish, had it filleted by an expert who made it look easy (i know better), picked up a kilo of red onions, a kilo of tiny oranges, a head of garlic.  then we stopped for some sliced ham and some cheese at a hole-in-the-wall shop nearby.  and we stopped at a bakery and bought 3 rolls.  and we stopped at the grocery on the way home, got more milk, some butter, a package of mixed greens for a salad, a bottle of plonk (wine is 5 euros a bottle, but plonk is 3.25 for a half gallon – i’m not a wine snob, and the cheap stuff tastes just fine to me).

because it was supposed to rain on friday, we decided to go to the mainland and provision ourselves, so we walked to piazale roma, got on a tram (they were only building the tram last time we were here) and went to the panorama hypermarket in marghera (or is it mestre?).  streets with cars.

at the panorama we got a grocery cart, and all the stuff we thought we’d need for awhile (like a half gallon of marinated artichokes, a box of 3 kinder eggs, paper towels, big things of yogurt, dried fruit, a nice smoked cheese, some parmesan, mustard, nonslip house socks, etc.  it cost about as much as a normal shop at home, i.e. a lot).

on the vaporetto

then we went home and made sandwiches – lovely rolls, slathered with butter, topped with a couple of slices of ham – yum.  and then i took a nap.

after it got dark, i was just closing the shutters when i noticed that it was snowing.  big, fat flakes.  so connor and i got our jackets on and scuttered outside to see.  i took the camera.  there was 2 inches of wet wet snow on the ground.  connor was delighted to be in snow, because we never get snow in atlanta (except when we do), and they never get snow in venice, except when they do, and it never lasts.  but it was there, so he had to get into it.  we walked down the twisty turny lane to campo san polo, and he fairly ran into the middle of it.  (they set up an ice skating rink in the middle of it during the winter, and in the evening they play canned music and people go around and around, some of them pushing others around in ice chairs)  i took pictures.  soon he was cold and wet, and my shoes were soaked, so we went home, and i tried to put him into a bath, but the water temperature isn’t strong enough for a bath (quick email to the landlord), so i made hot chocolate instead.

snow in front of our house

snow out on the main tourist path

snow in campo san polo

tourists taking selfies in the snow

if anything else happened that day, i’ve already forgotten it.

that night there was a hard freeze forecast, and i anticipated not going out at all because of the ice, but friday it had already started to melt, and the men were out with shovels clearing paths, and the tourist trail was all but dry because the traffic never ceases along it.  so we went out.  the fridge is small, so basically we shop a little every day, and we like that too.  i made bread.  we moved all the breakables into secure positions, rearranged the furniture to suit our needs, unpacked and set up our art studio in the dining room, put all the dirty clothes in the hamper to wash when the sun came back out.  it was cold outside, but so what – we dressed for winter in atlanta, and winter in venice is quite similar.

courtesy of

because it’s before the lenten season, they have all sorts of fattening deserts available, so we stopped at a bakery / bar and bought some fritelle, which are fried bits of dough with stuff in them, in this case dried fruits.  they smell like donuts, but taste very different.  we brought them home, made tea, and stuffed ourselves.  but we still had some nice lamb chops we got at panorama (the venetians don’t tend to eat lamb, but people on the mainland do; nevertheless there’s almost never any lamb available until the springtime, and i’ve never seen ground lamb at all, which is mostly what we eat at home).  so sauteed lamb with onions, boiled potatos, salad, and a glass of plonk, and we were stuffed.

take a picture of me, grandma

jim wants to paint this view.  we made connor stand back while i ventured onto the slippery ramps

i love venice in the winter

hell, i love venice all the time

suddenly connor cocks his head when he wants to look cute.  he’s five

we both want to paint this scene

so, another walk with the camera.  this time we sauntered up to rialto bridge with connor running headlong every chance he got.  it was dark, and there were far fewer people, but as it was a weekend, when we got to the bar section of rialto market, the noise of people standing around outside the bars drinking and talking was deafening.  a gaggle of teenagers were off to one side on the steps of the oldest church in venice, drinking beer – that’ll end well, i thought.

we’re somewhere, and jim seems to have a thing for well-heads this trip

yes, and old doors, too

the main tourist track near rialto is well marked

from rialto bridge in the cold and dark

we got to the top of rialto bridge and stopped for some photos of the grand canal in the dark.  connor peered thru the balusters of the bridge and declared he was scared, but he wasn’t scared of running down the wet icy steps of the bridge.  so i held his hand as we walked back.

i think this is off of strada nuova but i’m not sure at this point
another sunset, another version of rialto bridge, with lingering snow

this is near the train station; jim thought the idea of priests making alcohol was odd; obviously he’s not catholic

sunset off strada nuova

sunset somewhere near ferrovia

another lovely well-head

the next day was saturday; i don’t remember what happened.  let me look at the pictures.  we went out in the morning for a nice long walk with the camera.  then we came home for awhile and had tea, after which we were kind of tired and not very hungry, oh hell i forget entirely.  an omelet.  some more fritelle, this time with cream.  another trip to the shops.  we went a different direction and found the other nearby grocery, this time a conad, bought a few things (more milk), and after dinner (don’t ask, i don’t remember) walked out again, going somewhere.  i’m confusing my days already.  but i do remember that on the first walk we went toward rialto but turned a little left and stopped at every bridge without going over, essentially covering all the non-tourist tracks on the one island.  and on the second walk, we went toward piazale roma but only crossed the first bridge and explored every nook and cranny of the island next to us.  and it’s hell – you go one, maybe two steps, maybe a dozen, and a sight strikes your eyes that would make the most beautiful painting, so you stop and take a picture, and then when you shut off the camera and put it away, and take another step, or even turn around, there’s another must-have composition.  that’s how we come to take hundreds of shots every time we go out.

today, sunday, i managed to start a drawing of the rooftops across the campiello.  sitting in the kitchen, i managed to sketch the first part, and then connor declared he wanted to go for a walk.  so we got dressed, grabbed the camera, and went on a three hour tour.  we walked toward the train station, managed to find it after an aimless ramble, crossed over the grand canal and went thru canareggio to find strada nova, where there’s a candy shop, and a bakery that sells strudel.  by the time we got there, our halfway point, connor was hungry again, so we found the osteria where we used to go, where they made such a fuss over connor, but they don’t open until later, so we got him a cookie, and walked slower and slower toward rialto bridge.  the light went at that point, so i stopped taking photos, and we finally got back  home (stopping for milk etc).  tea with fritelle, and then a plate of pasta, and already i’m ready for bed.  of course, it’s 9:30 now, so no wonder.

one of the reasons i do diligent blog posts is so that we have a reminder of where and when we took which of the zillion photos we’re going home with.  i took 250 photos on our three hour tour today.  there’s got to be some way of figuring out when we took that photo of the campanile in that square with the church and the nice ancient climbing vine.  so tho this post is pretty incoherent, it serves a function for us.  i hope it’s not too boring for you.






  1. Catholic priests, monks and nuns have made alcoholic drinks for centuries, e.g. Benedictine, Chartreuse (Carthusian), Fra Angelico, many Belgian, German and Czech beers, wine, cider, mead, perry …….


    • oh, i know, but jim is a non drinker, and was raised a southern baptist, and hasn’t a clue.


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