The Doge's Palace, without the construction just out of the picture on the right.
1. We left home in a heatwave and were excited to get to Venice because the Weather Channel kept saying it was in the 60's or low 70's there. Well, yes. It was 72 today, but that is hard to believe because it feels like 85. The humidity is close to 90%, and we are soooo not accustomed to that. The sweatiness factor is extreme. In California, we live in a "Mediterranean climate," and we assumed that here on the actual Mediterranean, we'd see something similar. But where on the California coast the breezes blow off the ocean most of the time and there is little humidity, here it just hangs on you like a wet blanket. The people who stand outside many restaurants trying to lure you in kept grabbing me and saying "You can sit outside and have a nice cold drink," I'm sure because my face was beet red most of the time that I was walking around.
Before a construction worker can get busy . . . he has to carry everything off the boat.
2. This place is all about boats. Of course, you say -- we've seen pictures of the gondolas and the vaporettos. But what you don't think about is that everything has to be carried by boat -- at least, we didn't really think about it before we got here. There are garbage boats and UPS (or the local equivalent) boats and Comcast boats and boats that carry construction materials, on and on. I took the picture above from where we had lunch (caprese salad and shrimp); we were there for over an hour, and the whole time, four or five construction guys were going back and forth, back and forth, from the nearby canal with all the 2 x 4s and plywood and so on. The default for anyone who lives in Venice is to be in great shape, I am sure, because they walk everywhere and haul things around. Getting a stroller up and over a bridge is quite a feat. We wondered last night at dinner how people move to a new place -- ???? Everything would have to be transported by boat and hauled up from the nearest canal, which might not be that near. You may have to heave your couch over several bridges along the way. Good grief.
This is the only food shop we've seen in all the walking we've done in the past 2+ days.
3. I need to get back to the food. Ed, who is in the restaurant business, is utterly perplexed by the fact that restaurant staff do not seem to want to turn tables over at any point -- you can stay where you are at a restaurant or cafe or snack bar all day long if you want, and you have to exert a fair amount of effort to get them to bring you the check. (I think I actually offended a waiter at dinner the other night, making the universal "check, please" gesture -- or maybe that's because in Italy the "lady" doesn't ask for the check.) This is, in fact, a wonderful thing, as you can linger and enjoy the evening or the orchestra or people watching or whatever, as long as you want. And the food -- I swear, we have not had a bite of food that was not amazing. Yesterday at lunchtime I ordered "brasaole con rocket e parmigiano," not knowing what brasaole might be. It turned out to be a cured ham kind of thing and it was delicious. All of what we would call "cold cuts" are extraordinary here. Last night we had clams and mussels, followed by a most unusual pizza -- a deliciously light tomato sauce, mozzarella di buffalo, olives, onions, and "goose ham" -- an amazing combination of flavors. And very, very thin crust. And guess what -- they make Hawaiian pizza in Venice, but they don't call it that.
A beautiful wall plaque on the side of a building.
4. Don't spend a lot of time learning Italian before you get here -- everyone speaks English, or at least enough to get you what you want. I think a waiter became annoyed at my attempt yesterday to say that I wanted a cold drink -- he said (in English) "yes, yes, ice water," and scurried away. This irritated me a bit until I realized that I had not been speaking Italian but Spanish, saying I wanted a drink that was frio, when the Italian word for cold is freddo. Oh well.
We're off to hear some Vivaldi and opera music tonight and we have to leave early so that we have plenty of time to eat and get the check before the show starts. Tomorrow we take off for Ferrara -- look for an update then.