As the weather heats up in Queensland I am reminded of the rainy Autumn days that we spent in Venice in 2015. For the most part, the weather was cold and wet, a high tide was predicted and we could not have been happier. Protected by the covered passage of the Doges Palace we watched a parade of colourful umbrellas and plastic ponchos pass us by.
Liquid this week’s topic for the weekly photo challenge instantly makes me think of Venice and waking up to a high tide which flooded St Mark’s Square. On this morning we went for a stroll before breakfast to see how the piazza and surrounding areas fared after a night of rain and a high tide. We had seen photos of flooding in Venice, but they were extreme and I wasn’t prepared for how beautiful Venice looked with a layer of water covering most of the piazza.
“Venice never quite seems real, but rather an ornate film set suspended on the water.”
To choose just one favourite place is not an easy task. My favourite place depends on my mood, the weather or what I am looking for in a favourite place at a specific time. For example, my favourite place for dark night skies, peace and quiet and the best sleep ever is my family home in rural New South Wales. If I am feeling sad and craving solitude my favourite place is curled up on the lounge with Bundy, watching old movies or reading a book. For this week’s photo challenge I have decided to go with a favourite travel destination, one I could happily return to again and again even though it is considered by many to be ‘too touristy’. I’m sure that you will recognise it without difficulty.
For me the pleasure in returning to Venice is watching the sun set over the lagoon, the golden light creates a warm glow that affects all it touches. The thousands of day trippers head back to their hotels and cruise ships, the streets are less chaotic and the soft light of glass lanterns makes everything seem so romantic. During the day I love exploring streets beyond St Mark’s Square, getting lost and finding little gems in which to enjoy an espresso or a bite to eat and a glass of wine.
“The quality of Venice that accomplishes what religion so often cannot is that Venice has made peace with the waters. It is not merely pleasant that the sea flows through, grasping the city like tendrils of vine, and, depending upon the light, making alleys and avenues of emerald and sapphire, Citi s a brave acceptance of dissolution and an unflinching settlement with death. Though in Venice you may sit in courtyards of stone, and your heels may click up marble stairs, you cannot move without riding upon or crossing the waters that someday will carry you in dissolution to the sea.”
― Mark Helprin, The Pacific and Other Stories
Where’s my backpack has an interesting and challenging travel theme this week. Late is the theme and it is not an easy one for me to find suitable travel photos, but I hope you appreciate my effort anyway 🙂
You’ve heard me rave about Venice before so it will come as no surprise that after my third visit to the serene city I still feel the desire to return. We stayed in a small hotel called the Locanda La Corte not far from Rialto Bridge and close to the Ospedale vaporetto stop, perfect for walking to the city’s main attractions. The window of our hotel room opened onto a canal, it was ideal for us and there were many moments when all I wanted to do was look out that window, listen to the seagulls and watch the world float by. Of an afternoon, when the sun was shining, the reflection of the waves could be seen on the wall and ceiling of our room creating a feeling of calm.
Being Autumn the number of tourists seemed lower than on my previous visits in Spring and Summer, but still the streets and main squares were crowded. Away from the main attractions such as St Mark’s Basilica and the Rialto Bridge we could stroll freely and without interference from people armed with selfie sticks and those trying to sell them. It was the quieter alleys and squares that I love, although feeling like an intruder armed with a camera and invading a local’s personal space. One morning I left hubby at the hotel while I went out for a walk, camera in hand I decided to venture into a part of Venice that I had not seen, Cannaregio. I didn’t make it very far and found myself standing on the edge of the island and looking towards the Island of San Michele and in the background, snow covered mountains. It was shaping up to be a beautiful day, ideal for hopping on a boat and heading to the islands of Burano and Torcello which is exactly what we did.
Venice is often described as a theme park, attracting millions of visitors all year round and it is easy to get caught up in the hype and complain about how expensive everything is and how it is difficult to find a good, affordable meal. On Burano there are a dozen or more places to eat on the main street where all the tourists go, a couple of locals recommended two restaurants but they were packed so we sat down to a meal of fried calamari and chips (fries or frites) by the water. The food was cheap and fresh and not far from the vaporetto stop. Our favourite cheap eat find was a little place not far from the Rialto Bridge, I had read about it in a couple of guide books and expected it to be full of budget conscious tourists like us. Rosticceria Gislon is not what you would expect in a seemingly tourist area, it looks like a cafeteria and offers pre-prepared food at a good price, it was also crammed with locals (or Italian speaking tourists). We had three great meals at Rosticceria Gislon, one of the most memorable (and cheap) being the deep fried mozzarella and ham sandwiches…delicious!
I cannot imagine what it must be like to live in a centuries old city such as Venice, one that is never free of the hoardes of tourists whilst also having to manage the impact of high tides and rising sea levels. The eery beauty of this city appeals greatly to me, I have always wanted to spend a few months living in Venice however I wonder if the enchantment would wear off during an extended stay. In the meantime, editing all my photos and remembering our time in Venice will have to suffice.
Local restaurant, great food and service
View from the bell tower
The canals of Venice
A popular square, turn left to head towards the station
Cruising across the lagoon towards Murano
The Winged Lion, symbol of Venice
Trying on a mask
Venice at night
The bell tower and St Mark’s Square
The Grand Canal on a gondola
Typical Venetian view
Santa Maria della Salute as seen from the Campanile
It isn’t unusual for me to dream of travel and wish that I was in Paris or Venice but lately it has been happening more thanks to my growing collection of travel related DVDs and surprisingly, home decor magazines. The magazines heavily feature designs from Italy and French inspired homewares and the most gorgeous gardens imaginable. Both the hubby and I like to flick through the pages, marking the designs and ideas we love the most, there are a few things about our house and garden that we’d like to change, some more practical (and affordable) than others. My husband would like to change our front gate, he wants a big timber number, a bit like the doors and gates we saw in Italy, he also wouldn’t mind a front door like some of those we saw in Venice. I think the doors of Venice were magnificent and as you can see, we have plenty of photos for inspiration however they’re probably a little large and not quite suitable for our one-storey, brick and tile home.
I also fell in love with the architecture in Amsterdam and the formal gardens at Versailles and the Boboli Gardens in Florence but trying to replicate that at home seems a little strange and those formal gardens require hard work and commitment to establish and maintain. I guess that in the absence of extensive time and a mountain of money, we’ll have to be happy for the little touches of Europe we have in our home such as artwork from Amsterdam, an old map of Italy, Christmas decorations from Germany and of course, lots of photos of Venetian doors.
Just out of curiosity, how has your favourite destination inspired your home and lifestyle or have you gone all the way and made your home look as though it belongs in another country?