Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Skipping stones

I wonder how many things have slipped to the bottom of the canals in Venice? Coins, cameras, coffee cups, questionable postcards, souvenir stands. I wonder what rolls, or is gently shoved, and not seen again. Or do dredgers run junk shops and fishing boys sell shoes?

It’s an odd place, and oodles have been written about it. The water is china-bluer than I imagined, like the cups and bowls Grandma used to have, and the buildings redder, pinker, more crumbly, more humble.

I think because we only see the photos and the paintings of the heights of the Venician gothic, we don’t imagine that much of it just wallows mellowly along the water like Amsterdam or Bruges, busy being ordinary, but extraordinary because of what and where it is. When we arrived, we left the station and went left and left, and ended up in Canareggio and the Ghetto, where there were old ladies and working boats, dogs with blue and red leather harnesses sniffing walls, and dogs perched on piles of sacks, monitoring barges. A couple of cafes, and quiet. Waterways full of work, not photographic leisure. I liked it.

We all went to Venice expressly to ‘mooch’. Mooching has become an art form on this trip, for James and I, and today we had Ross and Chris with us too. It involves a slow progression, slightly faster than a stroll and not as slow as the mouth-open stumble some tourists use to catch flies. It includes coffee, photographs, people watching and getting away from souvenir stands, which y now probably chase us through our dreams. (Mooching also, because of my lust for art, includes churches and the occasional art gallery, but James might tell you that ruins the mooch factor a bit).

On Sunday, we mooched around Treviso, which was a special mooch, first because it was a reunion mooch, and second because it took in a rather splendid lunch.

Ross and James haven’t spent time together since we first moved out to Australia over three years ago, and so there has been lots of catching up, hugs and glasses of wine to be had by all. Ask Ross about the bottles of wine that cost about euro 1.49 ….

Treviso has the advantage of being 30 minutes from Venice by train, on the mainland, and hence outside of astronomical-o zone for accommodation. And it has the best flat! We’ve rented a large flat in an old villa in a suburb, which we call ‘My Nan’s flat in Italy’ because of its wonderful early 20th century-ness, surrounded by cherry trees and full of heavy old family furniture.

We all adore it, and photos don’t do it justice.

I just about started singing arias when we got in from the market and found that this kitchen awaited us. Wouldn’t you?


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