Monday, June 9, 2008

five hours in venice or, ciao italia

for some reason, the earth has tilted in such a way that nyc is significantly closer to the sun now. it's sweltering. supposedly the heat wave lasts one more day. tonight ej installed my air-conditioner. now i just won't leave my a/c for the next 24 hours.

so, venice.
last wednesday, ej and i took the train to beautiful venezia. of course, we packed snacks.

deerdog posed amongst the pomodori.

when we arrived, we walked the labyrinth to piazza san marco. this was the first venice photo of the day.

so much to look at.

so many narrow walkways to explore.

imagine living where the streets are canals and your car is a boat.

just park out front and step into your house.

walking along, we saw fancy buildings,

piazzas that made me feel as if i were on the universal studios back lot tour,

dogs out for a walk,

and tourists.

lots and lots of tourists. this one was very enthusiastic about visiting italy and wanted the world to know.

because the way to the rialto bridge and piazza san marco were thoughtfully marked with signs, there is a parade of tourists following the exact same route.

and all along the route, of course, the shops cater to foreigners.

the best item i saw was a calendar. it was next to this one, which i would kind of expect, of gondoliers.

what i didn't expect, was a calendar of priests. young, handsome priests.

i wasn't sure if these were actual priests or not. some of the photos look like they caught them off-guard as they were coming from hearing confessions, but march looks as if he's been working on this moment in the mirror for a long time.

navigating through the throngs of tourists was a challenge to my patience. we really wanted to get to piazza san marco so that afterward we could break away from the crowds.

this is my window.

part of my Dogs of Venice series.

venice was definitely the most touristy part of our entire italy trip.

saw a lot of this.

and this.

i just liked these signs.

our first glimpse of piazza san marco!

and there's the church!

and the people! so many people.

i was hoping the threat of rain would deter them, but once again, turisticus animalis proved to be a much more resilient creature than i had anticipated.

i started to embrace the idea that each and every one was simply another opportunity for a photograph.

ej was less enthusiastic about the crowds.

there were lovely distractions.

and eventually, we had to admit that we were tourists too.

unfortunately, there were no photographs allowed in the church of san marco, but we did shuffle through in a steadily moving line. it was dark in there. the mosaic floor was warped from flooding and age. walking in the front door was free, but every little chapel or staircase had an admission fee. we didn't indulge.

back outside, even though it was overcast, there was a glare.

i love how the tree thoughtfully reaches out its branches to cover any embarrassing bits.

killer pigeon comin' at me.

i can't say no to the doggies.

there were churches everywhere. we didn't go into this one.

but i loved the outside of it.

here on a wall of some arbitrary building, anyone can make a monetary offering to the Virgin Mary.

i had to take a photo of this guy. he was so smartly dressed, complete with ascot.

there were hidden hotels that faced the grand canal.

by this point, we were making a concerted effort to find the streets where the real venetians lived, sans tourists. it wasn't easy.

we passed this open door and it was beautiful inside, but i wasn't sure if it was the entrance to someone's home or if it was the lobby to apartments or what.

and then we stopped on a bridge. i was compelled to watch gondola after gondola pass with their load of happy tourists. perhaps it's cliche to ride in a gondola in venice, but really, these are probably people who have seen venice only on tv and in movies and dreamt of going there, and for years saved up their money, and when the dream finally becomes reality, what else would make it complete but a ride in a gondola through the canals? it's really kind of sweet that so many people from around the world share that same desire.

so here they are, living the dream, sipping their champagne and greeting the foolish tourists who are watching from a bridge.

i think these old ladies were pretty excited about their handsome gondolier.

this gondolier does not seem to be into it.

somehow the romance of it all is tainted when the sheer quantity of boats makes it look like a ride at disneyland.

in case you were unsure whether or not this is a catholic country.

even though we saw plenty of canals, i couldn't stop taking photos of them.

we were finally finding some open spaces and rewarded ourselves with gelato. it was cold and sweet, but it did confirm that not all gelati are the same. this one had nothing on rigoletto in milano. maybe they thought that foreigners wouldn't notice.

this leaning tower reminded me of mexico city.

but what's down this way?

i was so happy that we ventured to this spot! and thankfully, ej had his video camera because it sounded like we were facing a music school.

we heard a violin squeeking out a tune, and someone taking a voice lesson, and a soprano practicing an aria.

it was great! so we sat down and had a snack and enjoyed Behind the Scenes in Venice.

to the left

to the right

finally some peace and quiet.

when we continued on our way, i smiled at this sign because it made me think that she specialized in dr. seuss.

someone thought there was plenty of room between these two buildings to fit a tiny, skinny building.

we'd been searching for the name "tagnoli" because that's the last name of ej's oldest friend. we never found it, so we settled for his first name.

i think the Dogs of Venice should be a calendar.

the grand canal.

as i was trying to take a photo of myself in my traditional manner, a helpful tourist asked if i'd like a photo of myself. this has happened before. this time i declined.

this shop was closed, but they sold cool mirrors. we're standing outside the doors.

and then we found this quiet little courtyard. some older woman was just coming home for the day. it must be odd to find people taking photos of what is essentially your yard.

and your laundry. i kid. it wasn't her laundry, it was someone else's.

was this cobbler row at one time?

the token cat amongst all the dogs.

and then it was time to catch our train back. we hopped a ferry which is essentially their bus.

nice bus route.

what a crazy, wonderful water city.

the happy people waiting at a bus stop.

passing under a bridge we say goodbye to venice.

when we get back to milano, we remember that de santis is open until midnight, so we head over there to pick up a quick dinner for while we pack, and a couple extra sandwiches for our flights back. this right here is poetry in motion.

hiding behind bowls of mozzarella and ruccola, our delicate slices of salame await.

artichoke hearts, pomodoro, funghi, brie...don't hold back.

this was a regular customer who wanted to know why i was taking photos of the sandwich guy when he was ugly and had sausage hands.

the Sandwich Guy is master of all that he surveys.

he shook hands with us when we left and wished us a buon viaggio. i didn't think his hands were sausage-y.

the next morning, we didn't have electricity in our apartment and it doesn't get a lot of natural light, so i was hoping i wasn't forgetting anything in the dark. i realized that i hadn't taken any photos of our apartment, so i took a few quick ones before we left. please forgive the flash.

that old cross beam has been there since the dawn of time.

once the bags were packed and the photos taken, we had to leave. we took the malpensa express train to the airport. you can see that milano cried when we left.

unfortunately, ej and i were not on the same flight back to new york, but i enjoyed alitalia. they don't charge for wine (i stuck with water),

they actually gave out peanuts!! i was excited.

the food was pretty good. i had the fish. that's it under the green sauce. i'd eaten my de santis sandwich at the beginning of the flight, but when they came around with these trays, i didn't want to miss out on anything, so i ate this too. the flight attendant came by with the drinks after this and laughed that i always seemed to be eating when he walked by. so true, so true.

and every seat has its own remote control, so once i figured it out, i watched a few movies. it helped to
pass the time .

when i got back to brooklyn, my roommates had cleared out. i breathed a sigh of relief.

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