Showing posts with label Venice acqua alta. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Venice acqua alta. Show all posts

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Venice ~ Nothing Can Compare

We stood in the open mid-section of the vaporetto, braced against our suitcases and chilled by the cold wind that whipped off the canal that late November afternoon. We could have sat inside but didn't want to miss one minute of the sights, sounds, and smells that are Venice.

Venice vaporetto taking passengers to stops along the canal

We'd selected three cities to visit during our early winter 10-day Italian Escapade: Bologna, Verona and Venice.  I think we may just have unintentionally saved the best for last! 

Venice Revisited 

Oh the city of gondolas is magical

It wasn't our first visit to this centuries-old city built  atop some 117 small islands separated by 150+ canals and  connected by more than 400 bridges. But it certainly had been too long since we'd been back. On this late autumn trip we had arrived by train after spending a night in Verona then boarded a boat headed for our hotel in the San Marco district. Luckily our stop was one of the last so we could do some sightseeing along the way!

Aqua Alta 2012 in Venice  - photo from a blog post about that trip

Our last stay in 2012 was during a time known as 'acqua alta' (high water); a time when the city is flooded by high tide bringing the canals up over its walkways and piazzas. We didn't venture out often back then as each outing meant a balancing act on raised platforms installed for pedestrians to get around on when the floods occur. We hoped we'd not have a repeat of that weather phenomenon during this stay - and luckily, we didn't.

Famed Rialto Bridge - Venice

During our five day stay we planned to explore this fabled city's quarters, or sestieri, as they are called. Our overly-ambitious plans included visits to two nearby islands, Murano (for its glass) and Burano (for its lacemaking and colorful buildings). However, we were so taken with Venice we never made it to them. 

Exploring on a sunny but chilly morning

We again set forth on foot (as you do here until you are traveling on a canal) without any itinerary or 'must see' list. However we ended up visiting more tourist attractions than we had in the past because there were no lines of tourists.  We can probably thank the season and the lingering concerns over Covid for reducing the number of fellow visitors, but honestly, it was almost too good to be true.

No one taking a photo of the Bridge of Sighs - incredible sight!!

Take the Bridge of Sighs. . .on past visits so many tourists have wanted to take its photo - or worse, a selfie of themselves and the bridge - that we usually avoided the area all together as standing from where I took the photo above felt like being a sardine in a can.

We stood at that railing with few others

With maybe a dozen or so ahead of us, the line to check Covid vaccination status was longer at St. Mark's Basilic than was the ticket line. Absolutely no wait for tickets and no crowds inside. We were able to buy tickets once inside (again no wait) and visit the upper level art gallery and outdoor viewing area on the roof - again with only a handful of  others.

Waiting in the rain for the restaurant to open

The weather was fickle - one day we'd have sunshine and on another, rain.  It was chilly in the daytime and got rather cold at night which prevented us from enjoying the many bars and restaurants with tables and chairs that spill out onto the piazzas.  But it was never so extreme as to keep us inside as had the acqua alta on the previous trip.

The major sestieri (districts) of Venice

There is nothing better to our way of thinking in Venice than setting out on a walk with no destination in mind. Twisting walkways lead you over bridges, past shops, through piazzas and reveal all sorts of treasures that we find as interesting as those highly touted tourist sites. Take for instance:
Window food and drink storage

  A favorite walk was through residential areas, admiring flower boxes, shutters and facades on the ages-old buildings. It was  fun to spot places like the window sill above. It was cold enough to keep food and beverages chilled outside and that is just for what this window was being used. 

Ambulances and emergency rooms

We are both fans of Donna Leon's Inspector Brunetti novels. Often a victim is taken to the hospital by ambulance in these 'who-dunnit' stories. It was interesting to see what the ambulances and emergency room entrances look like in a city whose 'roads' are canals.

Dock builders balanced on beams over the water

We found it interesting to watch workers balance on narrow beams - walking, and kneeling -- on the frame they were putting into place.  I'd not seen construction equipment working from a barge before nor workers balancing as if they were ballerinas. 

Did I mention the food?

Needless to say all the walking we did worked up both thirsts and appetites in all three cities we visited.  I haven't yet told you much about Italian food and drink. The next post will take you to public markets, shops, bars and restaurants. . .I promise to make your mouth water in a 'Taste of Italy'  

An Aperol Spritz

For those of you who are reading The Mediterranean Lifestyle magazine, you'll get a taste of Italy in  my article "A Bite of Bologna" that appears in the just-published Feb/March edition.  This edition is available on line and for the first time ever - in print as well!  

My article in The Mediterranean Lifestyle Magazine

That is it for this time around. We send wishes for safe travels to you and yours and thank you for the time you've spent with us strolling through Venice on a winter's day. Please come back for a serving of Italy's culinary arts and bring a friend or two with you~ 

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Venice: Acqua Alta: Water, Water Everywhere

The obnoxiously loud– not-to-be-ignored-but-totally not-to-be-understood– alarm sounded in the dark early morning hours yesterday bringing us out of a deep sleep into a most confused state.

It sounded again at 6 a.m. today, but today we were expecting it.

Porca Miseria!
(Literally translated: pig’s misery. Slang: anything from “What a shame!” to “Oh, shit!”)

This time we counted the blasts and sound levels just like the residents; today we knew it was announcing: acqua alta, high water or in English, flooding. The number of blasts and levels tell you how bad it will be.

Those picturesque canals in tourist brochures turn ugly and  flood between late October and February each year we’ve learned. Sometimes as often as once a week – we get a double dose this weekend.

To show you what I am talking about, this is the view of the Zattere, the morning we arrived. I took this from a corner cafe where we sat at a sidewalk table sipping coffee:

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This is a photo below shows where our table was on Tuesday and the narrow elevated walkways that accommodate two-way pedestrian traffic to and from the water taxis in this case (those able to operate, that is, during the high water):

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And this is the view from my corner cafe spot yesterday (taken from the elevated walkway):

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(Sorry it’s blurred, I was being jostled by people bouncing the walkway as they eased past me – you are not to stop and take photos, but I wasn’t the only tourist doing so!)

The most popular tourist item yesterday were the stands that materialized it seemed from nowhere selling 40+euro rubber boots:

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So we are now debating packing up and leaving as soon as the water recedes today – should it happen again tomorrow we may not make it to the airport for our mid-morning flight.

Porca Miseria!

The Scout has found us a couple of options: either heading to Treviso, a town on higher ground or the Marriott at the airport (not as charming as the Zattere, but on high ground). 

We were assured by the cafe owner last night that we wouldn’t have a problem with acqua alta on Monday because the borsa would be here: that’s the North wind from Siberia. And from the way the leaves are swirling outside the window, I think it arrived early.

Porca Miseria!


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