The thought of Venice likely conjures up romantic notions of riding in a gondola while being serenaded to familiar Italian songs such as Volare. The truth of the matter is a bit less romantic, but I would likely come across as a real scrooge by talking it down. So yes, we did hear many, many a gondolier sing a variety of wonderful songs. Our balcony overlooked a canal and we watched boat captains skillfully maneuver their beautiful wood power boats, gondolas, delivery boats and the occasional ambulance through the congestion. All the boat drivers pitch in and pass signals to other boat drivers regarding traffic around blind corners. We frequently heard the loud call of “Ooui!” which apparently means, “I’m coming around the corner so you had better get out of my way.”
Early morning and late evening are clearly the best times for photographing Venice. Getting up near the summer solstice for sunrise means 4:00am. Each morning I would see groups of revelers still partying and carrying a fresh pizza and having a beer in St. Mark’s square, where over 200 empty tables sat waiting for the daily crowds. And here, as in the rest of Italy, one must really search for any variety of food other than pasta and pizza. I have no idea what a cuttlefish looks like, nor do I know what the Venetian preparation of it is, but it was certainly one of the best dishes I have had anywhere, not just in Italy. It is served with black ink pasta apparently from the cuttlefish. Try it, you’ll like it!
Each morning I would watch the city prepare for the day while I sat on the balcony sipping the very strong Italian coffee. Dump trucks or boats would collect and compress the garbage. Fresh fruits and vegetables were left at the sidewalks for the many restaurants. Fuel was delivered by boat to houses and businesses. When the daily work was nearly complete, the first gondoliers appeared, then more and more. There was a flood of them eventually, some with guitarists or opera singers on board. When no customers were present, they cleaned and polished their gondolas, singing all the while. They do clearly seem to be a happier group of workers, all Italians somehow, maybe less pressure and less desire to chase the next dollar, or euro.
I know I missed some important sights in Venice and would like to return again one day…. maybe during cooler weather.