Domenica 7 maggio
Waking up in Venice was quite surreal. I’d forgotten where I was. The day began with breakfast at Goppion Caffetteria. A cappuccino and a chocolate croissant set me back a tiny 2.60 Euros.
Today being Sunday many of the shops are closed. Cafes and restaurants, largely, aren’t. You won’t go hungry even on a Sunday. So I took my time to wander on my first full day in the city. Here ‘la passeggiata’ is easy. No map, most of the time. I lost count of the number of dead ends I went down. But that’s all part of the fun. It’s like a giant game of pacman. Although with less ghosts.
My journeys took me through Cannaregio, Castello and a bit of Dorsoduro as well. Today was also gelato day. So, one more espresso later (you can get those for just 1 Euro) I passeggiata’d my way right into Bacaro del Gelato in Cannaregio. It was worth the wait. A double cone will set you back 3.50 Euros. (and that’a lot of icecream).
The morning was spent largely free of the tourists. If you really want to get away from them though, churches are a wonderful way to do it. They are ‘tranquilla’ and works of art both inside and out. I sometimes stop to write notes there.
Lunch was at the Bacarando al Corazzieri – another recommended spot on my travels. Tick. Never feel obliged to eat all the courses. It’s traditional but if like me you’re a one course kind of eater, you don’t have to. A fabulous clam spaghetti, Aperol (my first – at last), an espresso and as much bread as you can comfortably eat, set me back 24.09 Euros. My appearance as a single woman in a restaurant encouraged some lively banter with one of the waiters. but it’s all in good jest and there’s never any harm done.
After lunch I took a slow amble down to the front and the Arsenale. I passed Via Garibaldi, off which I stayed the last time I was in Venice in 2006 where I remember having a very punchy Gorgonzola gnocchi. And I went to see the Serre dei Giardini which I had read about earlier this year. I then took my chances amongst the tourists and headed down towards San Marco Piazza.
Ramps are now a thing here in Venice at the bigger bridges. Tourism and our modern age dictates accessibility for all and it’s nice that if you struggle to get around Venice is a bit more accessible than it once was. But they are ugly and largely commendered by lazy tourists who probably think they were put there for them. I saw a more subtle version down near the Danieli Excelsior (near the Bridge of Sighs). Maybe they’ve been put in for the Biennale which I’m only just avoiding (it starts on 13th May).
Tips for tourists:
Walk at the side and do not stop suddenly in the middle of your trajectory. Behave as you would if you were driving. Would you stop in the middle of the fast lane of a motorway? Pull over to a side street or vacant shop front if you need to stop.
Do not drop rubbish. One of my major bugbears.
Look where you are walking. A lot of dog walkers pick up after their dogs (locals and tourists), a lot do not (locals and tourists).
Dress decently. You are not on the Lido.
Do not picnic on bridges. It’s annoying and you get in everyone’s way.
Never use a shop as a toilet stop off unless you are going to buy something. Public toilets are not common in Venice (the main ones are near Rialto) and they are not free. Offer a shop your patronage and you’ll be allowed to use the facilities. It’s the decent thing to do.
Note: Many of the bad things that people niggle about in Venice are not Venetian things. They are typical of anywhere with a lot of tourists or anywhere with a large population.
Learn some basic Italian language. Memorising your basic niceties will get you far and it will endear you to your hosts. I notice the attitude is different if you use some of the language and the more you use the same basic phrases the easier it becomes.
Buongiorno / Bon Di – Good morning/good day (and the Venexian version)
Ciao – Informal hello but it’s used a lot by people meeting for the first time in an informal setting such as a restaurant or cafe
Per favore – please (this is a good one, manners cost nothing)
Mi dispiace – I’m sorry
Scusa – Excuse me. Can be used when asking someone to move or to catch someone’s attention such as a waiter in a restaurant
Non capisco – I don’t understand
Io parlo pochi Italiano/Non parlo Italiano – I speak a little Italian/I don’t speak Italian
Grazie / grazie mille – thank you/many thanks
Many of the people I came across this week did not speak any English, although there is usually someone familiar with the language lurking about. They will tell you their English isn’t good, but it’s always way better than my Italian.
That’s it! Tomorrow is a special day so watch this space. To end, here’s a few more passive aggressive signs I potted on today’s travels.