We visited a chilly Venice just before early Easter 2013 (whereafter, all prices would jump, along with the volume of visitors). I’d last seen the floating city almost 50 years earlier, so I feared in case megatourism might have sunk the place aesthetically as well as regards centimetres. Tourists were indeed passing over bridges like some mad medieval pilgrimage in a painting by Bosch—several of which are in the Ducal Palace, from whose Bridge of Sighs we spied upon one band of pilgrims.
Of course I was a tourist myself, and I swear it was by pure coincidence that the much-needed sweater I brought from Spain parodied the official garb of the Gondoliers, looking tight-lipped despite the romantic balcony scene.
I was amazed at the excellence of the hundreds of souvenir shops selling carnival masks and glass stuff and all, scarcely any two shops the same, of highest quality rather than banality. Even if you erased all the churches and museums and palazzi, Venice still seemed well worth visiting for its souvenir shops alone, a sentiment I never felt before in any tourist destination. How about a complete glass orchestra? (click to enlarge)
How about ear-rings you can write a poem within?
The richest artisans of Venice must be those who make golden padlocks with which lovers swear undying affection, to be locked in clusters of dozens upon every available outlook.
La Serenissima is particularly serene by night, choppy canal water smoothed by 20 seconds exposure in darkness.
We discovered Parajesus:
and were puzzled by the numerous very low broad toilets, Non-Giacometti-Gabinetti, evidently for use by very short wide patrons not ordinarily visible in the Venetian alleyways.
By the time we got to the sculpture garden of the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, last visited by me 48 years before, I was seeing the city with re-sized eyes:
During my decadent youth as a student in Oxford I was keen on the overwrought, word-rich works of Frederic Rolfe, Baron Corvo, who relished sex with adolescent gondoliers, slept under upturned boats during bitter winters, and whose Desire and Pursuit of the Whole may be one of the finest evocations of Venice, where he died; but I daren’t read it again. Decadence suits youth more than it suits maturity, not that I strive to be mature.