Posted by: jeanne | February 12, 2017

omg it’s carnival!

i’ve been sick for the last few days, and that’s brought my average photo count down.  i usually take anywhere from 125 to 950 shots every time we go out on a three hour tour;  i’ve got 10,000 photos so far, and we’re only halfway through our travels.

while being sick, the gas technician came back to fix the boiler, so i got up and did some things – brought in the laundry half-damp and laid it out on the rack near the radiator to finish drying, swept the floors, mopped up after the massive amount of soot the technician tracked all over the kitchen.  but then i rewarded myself with my first hot bath – what a luxury.  enough dead skin to start a garden.  two top-ups and 40 pages into a book.

afterwards, connor, trying to help, disassembled the bathroom sink plug and dropped the stopper into place, leaving the spacer on the shelf.  a nice tight fit.  so there was no getting it out, not with fingernails, knife points or sewing needles.  i had to wait until today and fish out the pipe wrench and take the pipes apart under the sink, then use the handy-dandy wire coathanger to push the stopper out of place from below.  then, as it always is with home repairs, i found that i had reattached the pipes wrong, so the thingie didn’t go up and down at all, so i had to take it off and put it back on several times until it was all better.  connor got a talking to, but how do you tell a five year old not to bother helping?

today i felt enough better to go out, so we went to the fish market first thing and got a pound of shrimp.  locals get noticed first by the fishmongers, and if you try to say something they ask you to wait.  (likewise locals can get on the vaporetti before everybody has disembarked, but if you’re a tourist following on the heels of locals you get waved back and yelled at.  oh well.)

once we got back, i went back to bed for awhile and then we left the house in time to miss our cleaning lady.  it appears that cleaning by a professional is included in our rent, so i went around and cleaned everything up before she got there, and then we went on an aimless wander.

our first clue, a tourist walking back and forth jingling her bells and looking to see who was looking

it being a saturday, there were more people out than usual.  that was our first clue.  prices have risen in the tourist shops overnight, even tho half of them are still running sales signs in the windows.  while i was home in bed a bunch of ice cream shops have opened, and even on campo san polo there’s a brand new merry go round for infants and a brand new ice cream shop that they must have brought in piece by piece on a boat and assembled in place.

the old folks don’t care much about carnival

we started seeing masks right away.  kind of cute, seeing people sporting little sparkly cat masks over their down jackets and wool scarves.  we turned down streets based on the following:  lack of tourist crowds, likelihood of wellheads, streets we probably haven’t been down.

since jim isn’t recognizably american in his dress, people find him exotic.  several times in the past photographers have stopped him to take pictures of him, and today they were out in force.  i was getting shots of a couple in 18th century dress  (sort of, with hoop skirts so 19th century), while some guy was getting shots of jim.


and then when we were on top of a bridge someone else stopped him to get a shot.  and then on top of another bridge someone didn’t even bother asking but just raised her camera and snapped away.  i never got the chance to get a photo of anybody doing this, but we were both mightily amused.  jim the authentic photogenic dude.

locals stopping for a drink of prosecco.  i heard one of them assure someone on the phone that they were at work at that very moment

before we knew it, we were in santa croce, heading for the grand canal.  we kept avoiding it by turning down different streets, but in the end we landed on the riva de biasio, right across from the mouth of the rio cannaregio, where a parade starts off the festivities tomorrow at 11.  there’s a to-do on the same canal this evening, but we don’t do night things here, simply because we’re early to bed and late to risers.

this piece of graffiti was there two years ago, still perservering

while we were on riva de biasio, we looked at our options for photographing tomorrow’s parade.  we stood right next to the canal last time, and got some really good shots, but we hated the crowds, so we considered setting up on the riva with the telephoto, the little silver camera, and the gopro.

our view from riva de biasio, plus wine bottles

and then we wondered if the edge of the church at the corner of the canal wouldn’t be a good place, so we headed back to the second bridge over the canal, the one leading most directly to the train station, and made our way to the bridge over rio cannaregio.  this was difficult.  there were lots of crowds.  lots of people in masks, lots of fresh tourists with rolly bags, troppi turisti cazzo.  and loads of police.

jim had noticed army guys with submachine guns 30 yards back

but we persisted.  as we left the crowds and went along the riva to the church yard, we could hear shouts and cheers along the road we’d left.  we had a good look at the spot.

this church is under renovation.  what splendid decrepitude

the view from the church yard where we decided not to stand

it was a good one, with a good view, but even if it was not going to be packed with people for the parade, getting there was going to be a big hassle.

beautiful and cheap reproductions of some of the wall insets in venice

i remember last time, when it was acqua alta, and people were forced to use the passarelle, which further constricted traffic.  no way are we going to do that again.  and passing thru the crowds this afternoon just reinforced it.  so we’ll head out tomorrow around 10, make our way on foot to the riva opposite the canal, and set up in good time to catch the big rat that heads the parade.  not a marching parade, as we told connor just now; a parade of boats.

typical crap that passes for street art here – note the same clouds everywhere

our decision made, i consulted with jim (vaporetto home or the rialto bridge) and we thus continued to strada nova.  more crowds.

all this traffic backed up just to cross a bridge

i had to hold connor’s hand the whole way.

strada nova in full bloom – it wasn’t like this last week AT ALL

it was possible for the first time to take pictures of people in the crowd without feeling like i was stealing their souls.  people actually stopped and posed so that i could take their pictures, and once i spotted a gaggle of americans at a cafe, all decked out in pink, and asked if i could take their photos.  they were so pleased.

i just loved the snow boots, so stopped them for photos

and another time i wandered down a street to find a wellhead, and found a couple in costume taking selfies and pictures of each other, so i included them in my photos of the wellhead.


no sooner were we on strada nova proper than we encountered a zombie parade.

authentic zombie blood.  i hope

there were hundreds of them, and they were spectacularly decked out and made up.

there’s jim on the other side of the street, trapped

connor, of course, was off on a raised campo with a statue, chasing other kids around, so he missed the actual parade, but once i could cross the street and yell for him, he came and saw the stragglers, and even managed to get up close to one couple for a photograph.  everyone in the crowd laughed to see his face.  it was a joyous moment.  i haven’t laughed in weeks.   (speaking of laughter, have you seen this one by john cleese?)

the guy’s tongue and his eating of entrails freaked connor out

we passed an artist sitting by the side of the road; that’s not so unusual.  what was unusual was that his work was pretty good.  most of the tourist paintings you see in venice are pretty amateur looking, some are really cringeworthy.  but this guy did night scenes well, which is amazingly hard.  so i whipped out my camera, but before i could get a clear view – lots of tourists – he signaled nonono with big gestures, and then rose from his seat to come tell us.  we’d already decided to go speak to him, to tell him we are artists.  he replied, you are artists? then draw me.  that’s a challenge we can’t pass up, so jim sat down opposite the guy, took his board and a pencil, and sketched the guy while connor and i stood around, amused, and a whole bunch of people stopped by to look amused and take photos (the guy didn’t wave them off).  we remarked how his work was very nice, not like some, and he said he was a teacher of art at the academy (which academy?), and we all noded sagely.  teachers.  in about ten minutes jim was done with his sketch.  the guy thought it was unfair that jim made him look old, because he was insisting he felt as young as connor (i placed him anywhere between late 40s and early 50s.  the paintings were signed ASAS).


then he took a photo of jim, we gave him our card, and he asked us where we were from.  as we take every opportunity to assure people that we are not in favor of the current regime, we were happy to tell him we’re from atlanta, and he (inevitably) asked with a worried tone what we thought of current affairs.  we expressed out horror and he looked relieved.  everyone in the world is scared about what’s going on at home; we feel it our duty to reassure them that not the entire country has gone insane.  just those in control.

this is what happens to bricks, even covered by stucco, when exposed to salt water

after this we walked the rest of strada nova, me looking for the cioccocenter where i’m supposed to be able to buy fernet menta (a great stomachic).  but tho i’ve been down that street three times now, i have not seen it again.  perhaps it’s gone. when we went to the one on ria garibaldi, the lady said they don’t have it anymore because something in italian that i can’t remember and couldn’t understand at the time.  so i may be out of luck, but now i’ll start going into little candy shops.

we can’t figure out where the church opens to the street.  the bell tower leans a lot

even the zombies use vapes

and then we were around the corner from the rialto bridge, the crush having gotten really annoying.  there aren’t any side streets to go down here; anything that doesn’t go to rialto bridge ends in a doorway or courtyard.  so we barged on, moving like water around people clotted in front of stores.  and so over the bridge (nicely cleaned up in time for carnival), and into the back streets to stroll slowly home to our dinner of shrimp and rice.  the cleaner did a spectacular job, and even found a spoon that we must have lost our very first days here.  yay!

a very low tide next to our local coop store

i’m dealing with hell at home, so there’s a lot of writing, corresponding, looking up my legal rights, and trying to figure out how to save the situation without finding my house burned down when i get home.  so that took a lot out of me.  but writing about our day made everything bright again, and i’m ready for our bedtime story and off to bed.  i still have to process some of the 308 photos i took today in order to illustrate this post, so you won’t be able to read it until tomorrow when you get up.  it’s been one hell of a full moon/eclipse.  i hope everybody weathered it with as much humor as possible.



  1. You may recall my family’s heavy reliance on Fernet Branca, the liquor that, whenever you have any eruptions at either end of your digestive system, gives your tummy such a horrible fright that it behaves itself impeccably thereafter.


    • well i remember, francis; that’s why i’ve got menta fernet candies, and am considering buying a bottle of fernet branca to take home with me. i still tell the story to friends.


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