Venezia

Hello again, dear readers. I have moved on to another Italian city – this time, Milan. The football (soccer) game between Italy and Brazil just ended with Brazil winning 3-0, so I guess there are a lot of disappointed people around here. Still, life must go one.

I guess I should finish writing about my time in Venice before moving on to writing about Milan. When I wrote last time, I was just finishing up my second day out of the four I spent there. On the third, I decided to take to the water, buying a 48-hour water bus pass for 28 Euros. (That’s over 40 dollars, but hey – a single ride costs about ten!).

My first goal was the island of Murano, known for its glass blowing industry. On the way to the Fondamenta Nova – part of Venice’s northern edge, so to speak – to get the boat, I came across a young Russian/Ukranian couple, Oleg and Ludmilla, who I had met in Florence several days earlier while climbing down from the top of Giotto’s tower. After talking with them for a little while, it was on to the boat and Murano. What did I find there?

Mostly shops selling glass – not surprising considering that glass-blowing is (apparently) the island’s major industry. There were some beautiful things on display, for sure, but also a ot of kitschy little stuff. I did attend one glass-blowing demonstration, but otherwise just walked around. Some of the waterfront views were quite nice, but I didn’t stay terribly long.

From Murano, I had thought of taking a boat to Burano (known for its lace-making) and perhaps even to the island of Torcello (which is even further out in the lagoon), but I decided to head back to Venice to use the water bus system once more to visit the Giudecca. This is a long island that makes up Venice’s southern part (not including the Lido), separated from the rest of Venice by the 400 meter wide Giudecca Canal. I had read that it’s mostly residential, and that seemed to be true. It was certainly very quiet, though there does also seem to be a significant industrial content there.

After returning to the hotel for a short time to take care of a few things, I headed out again with the intention of doing something I had not done before – go to the Punto Dogana, the pointy tip of the Dorsoduro section.. I had wondered what it was like out there, so I set out to find out – and I did. When I got there, I was surprised to find a statue about 7 feet high of a nude boy holding a frog. This I did not expect to see, especially since I thought the building next to the point was a church building. Instead, it belongs to an arts foundation, and the statue is part of an arts display, apparently. As I had an unlimited boat pass, I took the water bus back when I saw one coming up to stop.

I used my pass once again the following day, this time to take a boat up the Grand Canal to the railway station. I got off there, did a little souvenir shopping, and then crossed over the bridge to the other side of the Grand Canal to do some exploring. I didn’t have any plan in mind. My goal was to just wander, eventually working my way down to the Accademia Bridge.

I was planning to go to the Ghetto that night for dinner, having been invited earlier in the week to attend the weekly Sabbath dinner at the kosher restaurant, but I thought I’d get something to eat earlier. I wrote last time about how I had pizza at a place run by Chinese people. Well, looking around, I saw a lot of pizza places in Venice run by Chinese. This time, I went into another such place and asked for pizza bianca – white pizza, or pizza without tomato sauce. I tried to explain to the girl what I wanted, but she didn’t seem to understand, so I moved on to the next pizza place – also run by Chinese.

Again, I asked for white pizza. She didn’t seem to understand at first, but then I made some headway. “Pizza con mozzarella, funghi e tonno – ma no salsa di pomodoro. Si?” Finally I got the message across and got what I wanted, but as I wrote before, Venice seems to be changing demographically.

After walking around a bit more to take some final photos of Venice, I took the #52 boat to the Ghetto, just a stop or two after the railway station. This was to be the boat I would take from my hotel to the railway station to depart from Venice, so I was also interested in finding out how long the ride there would be, too. Dinner was nice, and I met people from around the world, but the tone was a bit more celebratory than usual, perhaps, as about half a dozen rabbinical students (mostly American) who had been studying in Venice had just been their rabbinical exams this weeks, so there was a lot of singing going on.

I had planned to leave around 10 or 10:30, but the older rabbi in charge asked me to stay for the second dinner seating. I didn’t want to eat any more, but as I had no reason not to stay, I did. That gave me a chance to talk some more with the students, but I didn’t leave until after 11:30 – about 15 minutes after the last boat to my hotel had left. I had originally planned to walk back, it being my final night in Venice, but as it had rained that evening and threatened to do so again, I was really counting on taking the boat back.

Still, I had no choice buy to walk, and although lightning flashes lit up the sky and thunder rumbled, it didn’t rain. As was the case three nights before, I got totally lost once the main street Strada Nova came to an end, so again I followed the signs through the quiet, mostly empty streets to San Marco. In St. Mark’s Square, two six piece orchestras were taking their turns playing as I had seen before. On my last night in Venice, I stood there spellbound as one group played the theme song to the film “Titanic,” and for that moment, all seemed right with the world.

As I wrote before, I am now in Milan. Coming to this busy city from Venice feels a bit like waking up from a dream. I was going to write a little about it tonight, but as it’s late and I’m feeling tired, I think I’ll end it here.

Be well, everyone.

Yours,

Dave

About Dave Rudin

Dave Rudin is a fine art photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. He specializes in art nude and travel photography, using black & white film and making silver gelatin prints in a darkroom.
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3 Responses to Venezia

  1. Your pizza story reminded me of trying to order a pizza in Rome during my first visit there back in 1972. I speak no Italian. There was one person in our group who claimed to be able to speak Italian, but when it came time to place our order in a little family pizza place near our hotel, her language skills failed her. We ended up trying to pantomime "One large pizza with no anchovies."We got an anchovy pizza.You should have seen us trying to order milk.

  2. The problem may be dialects. When I lived in Rome, I came home crying from a shopping trip. I had been down to the marketplace I could see from my apartment window at the Campo di Fiori to buy some black thread. I knew Italian, but the vendor did not understand me. Later someone told me the vendors might be Sicilian or have one of Rome's many dialects.In the end, though, I think you have to speak with your hands in Italy. If you don't say the words with the right gestures, it all goes right out the window.

  3. Dave Rudin says:

    Yes, UL, it may have been a dialect problem – but in my case, the dialects in question would have been Cantonese, Mandarin, Shanghainese, etc.!

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