Posted by: jeanne | January 18, 2017

another beautiful day in venice

how many times will i use this as a title?  i wonder…

the sounds of venice.  never mind the garbage boats and the delivery boats; they’re momentary distractions, much the same as the fricking leaf blowers back home.  raucous, but soon gone.  at night there’s the night vaporetto across the grand canal, pulling into the stop we can see, i think it’s san antonio.  that’s a rumbling noise, distant, as the engine churns the water to slow itself into the dock.  as boats go by on the canal it’s just a constant swish as the wake approaches the mouth of the canal outside our window, the soft splashing of the tiny waves as they hit the walls, and the gentle knocking of the empty boats tied up against their mooring poles.  when a boat passes by on our canal, we can hear the motor approaching, a deep thrumming sound that gets louder and more intense, and then fades away, leaving a sharper slap of wake against the walls, and a more resonant knocking of the boats against their poles, like pounding a drum slowly.  then there are the clanks and clacks of people opening and shutting the shutters and doors, of the wind banging loose shutters around and the sharp click of the strings of the venetian blinds knocking against the windows (yes, the venetian blinds are on the outside of the windows, between the glass and the shutters).   as for wildlife, it’s not like back home.  in atlanta, there are birds at all seasons, and they make noise in the morning as the sun comes up (the dawn chorus), and then they go about their business.  here, the birds are seagulls, adn they don’t go tweetweetweet.  in the night the birds are squaccos, and that’s eponymous – they make the most godawful noise; it sounds like rats being surprised by owls.  in the daytime it’s the seagulls.  the cats and the rats don’t make much noise.  and that’s it for wildlife, unless you count the various small dogs that half the residents take along with them on their errands.

the stars are visible at night here, and often they’re like little light bulbs in the sky, they’re so bright.  venus in particular shines like an actual disk.  i can see orion rise from the living room window.  it’s cold the way atlanta is cold in teh winter, and it’s windy out now.  the wind is audible in venice, as it gusts against the windows and splashes down onto the water, ruffling the surface as it goes.  you can’t hear the wind in teh branches, because there aren’t any trees (except behind high walls in people’s back yards).  there’s nothign stopping the wind, and it flows steadily down the canal caverns, sometimes enough to take your breath away as you cross over a bridge.

in the house it’s very quiet, except for the gurgling and creaking of the heating system.  thank god for central heating, because while we turn the heat off at night at home, the floors are marble and terazzo here, and very cold.  we had to get the landlord over here to turn up the water heater so we could run a bath that didn’t chill the bones.  the temperature is fine in the kitchen, near the boiler (all the utilities are exposed here, so you can see the boiler, the heaters are radiators, the plumbing lines are visible.  i like it; it’s more honest than hiding everything away in closets as we do at home), but once you run the water thru the pipes to the bathroom (this is a large apartment, so that’s 30′) it’s only lukewarm.  connor tried a bath the first few days we were here and i had to rescue him and hold him until he stopped shivering.  it’s so quiet in teh house, because we’re the only ones here, that i can hear the ringing in my ears very clearly.  and the only motors are the boats, which don’t much run after 9 or so.  when we get back home, we will notice the fixed-pitch whine of the highway a block away from us, and it will bother us until we get used to it again.  it’s so quiet here that the blinds cord hitting the window is a loud sound.

one strange thing, there’s one particular vaporetto line that turns around right outside our canal.  it heads right to the mouth of our rio, then backs up and edges forward, backs and forwards again, until it’s aimed right and moves off back the way it came, toward piazzale roma. i don’t know which line it is, and it seems to go on all night, so it involves one of hte night boats as well.  maybe i’ll find out; it doesn’t show on the vaporetto maps.

okay, on to what we did yesterday.  we both worked on our art; i sat in the kitchen and did the drawing for a watercolor of the building opposite, which still has snow on the roof, which not only means that the roof never gets direct sun, but also means that nobody lives there, and the house is unheated.  it’s a great roof, with lots of angles and a few modern incongruities.


jim sat in the armchair in the living room and did a silverpoint drawing of the palazzo.


at the point i had finished with my drawing, connor decided, again, that it was time for another walk, so we suited up and headed out.


this time we decided to go the opposite way around the grand canal, and headed for the accademia bridge, only having to use the map app once, and only taking one dead-end street.  yay – all this is remembered from the last time we were here.  we passed a bunch of tourist shops selling ‘murano’ (china) glass at 50% off.  last time we were here we didn’t realize it was only for the month of january, and so missed the actual sale.  lots of stuff on sale, lots of nice clothes, lots of tourist stuff, lots of crafts.  but we’re not here for souvenirs so we don’t usually stop.  there are some great drinking glasses this time, tho, all shot with very intense rainbow colors.  at 50% off they’re 5 euro each in this one shop i’ve had my eye on.  but never mind.

palazzo franchetti, with perhaps the most highly decorated pozzo in venice

connor is an excitable boy.  he has permission to run ahead, as long as i can see him, so he meets us at the top of each bridge.  he walks along, staying to the right, sometimes holding my hand, and when he sees a bridge he races up to it, whooping and hollering.  everybody sees him coming; the women all squee at him.  he’s still the loudest boy in venice, and now the fastest.  at least he’s not doing the spiderman crawl over the bridges the way he did last time – that was almost embarrassing.  he loved the accademia bridge, maybe the highest of the bridges crossing the grand canal, and the only wooden one.  it’s down near the mouth of the grand canal, where the channel gets very wide and opens out into teh much larger giudeca canal, with the salute church at the end of the reach.  we stopped for pictures (to catch my breath).


then down into campo san stefano (?) and along a path we knew well from trying to go to the pigment guy’s shop so many times last time we were here (he was never there until the very end of our stay, but we always stopped by the window to drool at the beautiful pigments in drawers set out on view).  there’s a bar there at the corner, and we used to stop in for hot chocolate and a pastry, so we did it again.  it’s more expensive than many bars, as i remembered only after paying for our food.  we’re eating fritelle crema while they last, fried dough with whipped cream filling.  it’s an indulgence, but everything in the winter is indulgence until lent comes along to spoil it all.

the folks in front of connor were consulting brunetti’s venice, a fictional guidebook

we had decided to stop by the bovolo to see if they’d finished construction.  last time we were here the place was surrounded by a cloth barrier which we duly poked holes big enough for our camera lenses to see thru.  this time it was all finished, and we could walk in to see how much it was going to cost us to go thru (7 euro each), and connor ducked right under the do-not-cross tape and ran around the well-heads positioned here and there in the little garden in front of the stairs.  we had been considering renting an apartment exactly opposite the bovolo, until we realized that it was on the ground floor and the tourists would be outside our door peering thru our windows with their selfie sticks all day long.  it was relatively cheap, too.

la scala de contarini del bovolo

around the corner from the bovolo is an organic shop, a tiny hole in the wall in a tiny hidden campielo.  i was anxious to find some turmeric and ginger, because i use it all the time in my cooking now, and there was none at rialto and none in the shops, so i figured they’d have it, because they had it last time.  and they did.  so jim stuffed the bag in his pocket and we walked on to the rialto bridge, completing a second circuit of the canal we’d started on when we did our first three hour tour.  i had to go to the vodafone store, because when i’d gotten a new sim card for my phone i had neglected to find out my new phone number, and didn’t know how to find it.  so i had to go back.  and then we stopped at the small appliance store and got a coffee grinder to go with the american coffee maker back at the apartment.  we’d been making espresso with some moka machines at home  (they have a collection, from tiny to huge, at the apartment), adding water to make it americano coffee, which is a lot of trouble when you’re half asleep early in the morning.  and then i had to go find coffee beans.  we’d seen lots of them at the panorama store, but i didn’t want to go thru that ordeal again without needing to.  so we checked the coop store, and they didn’t have them, so i dropped the boys off home (jim was getting cold and it was time for dinner) and ran up to the conad store we’d just located, where the selection is much better, and i found nice crisp romaine lettuce (everything tastes better than at home), and two pounds of coffee beans.

outside the university of venice, an exhibit of fanciful pandas connor was all over

jim plays with connor at night – correction: connor plays with jim in the evenings after dinner, while i wash up and clean the kitchen, and then he reads him a story, and then connor wants to come to bed with us while i read jim a story, except he squiggles so much i have to take him back to his room soon after he falls asleep.  and then i do my usual, sleeping for an hour and then up for several, during which i figure why not start a new blog post, and here i am.


but that was yesterday.  today it was as bright as ever, and windy.  we spent the morning doing art, and i introduced the boys to a lovely lemon spread on toast, which means i ran right down to the heel of the bread and had to make another loaf.  and then we waited for the landlord, who had promised to come by yesterday, then promised to come by today from 1:30 – 2 and arrived at 2:45 (very typical, kind of like atlanta, where a minute means 20, and 5 minutes means 2 hours).  so it was after 3 when we set out.


we only wanted to go up to piazzale roma to buy museum and church passes, and we went the right way this time, so it only took half an hour to get there.  the hello venezia office sold us combination tickets for 39 euro each, giving us a printed receipt, on a piece of paper, and told us to show the bar code at each church and museum.  not a card, a printout.  okay.

inside the carlo goldoni house, what we can see without paying real money

and we then went to the post office to buy an envelope so we could send allison a letter.  at the post office, you take a number, just like at the vodafone store.  there wasn’t a line, but i got a number anyway, and then told the nice lady in my best broken italian that i needed to buy a busta to mail a letter.  she found one, then proceeded to tear out a sheet of blank preprinted paper that she fed into a machine, that printed out a full-sheet receipt for 20 cents.  i love italian efficiency; it’s so quaint.  she didn’t have a pen to lend me, and i’d forgotten to bring one, so actually weighing the letter and stamping it and mailing it out will have to wait for another day, but i have my receipt…


and then we went around to the coop store there.  it takes up 4 or 5 buildings, back to front, with metal plates in the alleyways between the buildings that lead into the next section of the store.  i always get a kick out of this, traipsing from one building to another just shopping for groceries.  it’s a good deal larger than our local coop, so i took the liberty of buying a jar of caponata, a large jar of honey (we’re halfway thru the one we bought the first day or two we were here), a bag of rice, and some chicken breast.  i’m looking forward to actually making a venetian dish with it; i brought my venetian cookbook with me; i’m ambitious that way, and we don’t like spending 40 euros on dinner the way we did the first night when all we got was a plate of lasagna and a bowl of soup.


once we had everything, we waited for a vaporetto, and connor ran up and down the ramp, jumping into the air at the bottom, and kicking his feet up.  he told us how much he loved doing that, and then did it again.

connor, too fast to capture on film

i stood on deck with my hood up against the wind, as usual, jim sat in the back as usual, and connor went back and forth between us.  he wanted to stand by the boat’s gate and lean out, and i wouldn’t let him, so he kept going back in where jim would let him run wild in the seats.  i happened to be watching when he whanged his little head against the side of the boat and made all the old ladies look concerned and a little annoyed.  i could hear him thru the closed cabin doors.  when he came out on deck as the boat approached our stop, all the college girls went squee at him.

so we got back home after dark once more, passing our house at the last vaporetto stop but one; next time we go out i’m leaving a light on in the living room so we can see our house waiting to welcome us back.  dinner was leftover spaghetti because i didn’t have the energy to make chicken, adn then i had to lie down and jim did the dishes.  i’ll have to rewash the glasses…

they’re sleeping now, and i’m about to go back to sleep.  the hot water bottle should still be warmish, and i’ll curl up around jim’s back and try to get a full night’s sleep for a change.  and tomorrow is going to be another wonderful day in venice.  the vaporettos are going on strike, so maybe it’ll be quieter on the canal; maybe the rowboats will come out, like they do on sundays.

this is the palazzo next door, with beautiful carvings

this is the view from our bedroom in the morning, with the reflections i love

and beneath is the water door with its carved grandpa head



  1. Really enjoyed this post! Just wish I could hear what squee sounds like. Kind of glad I don’t have a young one (as charming as he looks).
    Love having real artist friends wintering in Venice!


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