The Guilt Complex

I am struggling with a conflict of loyalties.

In 5 weeks I return to Venice. At the height of season. I haven’t done that in 11 years. Not my choice. It’s my parents holiday and I want to be there to help them make the best of the venue. Ok, I lied, I really WANT to go back to Venice and I wouldn’t care when it was. It’s Venice.

I read a lot about what’s happening there at the moment. About how the cittidini are at breaking point. I look at the disgusting way tourists behave and the distressing disrespect so many people have for one of our most historical places on earth, and for all my care and consideration that I have put in place for my second visit, I can’t help feeling like I am just another part of the problem.

I don’t want to contribute to it. And for all my bleating on about my Venexiane ancestry, I really am not one of them. It was four generations ago that my g-g-g-grandfather was born and raised and worked in Murano and Venice. I am a charlatan. The only way I will ever be able to consider myself even close to being ‘one of them’ will be to live there. And that, I am sorry to say, is not going to happen any time soon, no matter what way I look at it.

So I don’t know how to reconcile myself. I hope that I am different from the millions that stream into Venice every year. I know that in some ways I am very different. In others perhaps not.  And I am thankful that I will be able to help two more people, my parents, who are one generation closer to their Venexiane DNA than I am, to be as conscientious as me.

And I hope that in some small way that gives something back. Because I don’t want to be THAT tourist.

Youtube transcription

I’ve included below the text from my last Youtube upload with one or two alterations. I realised a couple of errors after I posted this video. That’s the learning curve!! There’s also a link to the Youtube blog at the end.

Stasera sto scrivendo usando un microfono invece della mia tastiera. Questo è mio metodo nuovo di parlare. Spero che sarà aiutarmi con parlando, ma anche aiutarmi di  ricordo le parole più veloce.

La ragione è perché non sono trovando tanto opportunità di parlare con le persone al momento. Il gruppo che ugualmente incontro con ha fermata per l’estate – finché Ottobre. Questo è un problema per me perché vivo a Manchester e non in Italia. Così miei opzioni sono limitato per ora. Infatti quando sto scrivendo questo, sto parlando nel mio telefono, cui probabilmente guarda molto strano del persone.

Allora, in ogni caso questo è un metodo molto utile per me. Il vantaggio di questo metodo è che posso rivedere dopo parlo. Certo mia Italiana non è perfetto. Sto imparando italiano da 7 mesi, e ho lavorato molto duro. Per me questo è soltanto un’altro modo di imparare.

Queste giorni sono meno preoccupato del mia grammatica. Io sento che ho un buono capendo della lingua ora, così voglio soltanto gustare usando la lingua e miglioramento mia fiducia. Perché per me, mia fiducia è un grande problema, particolarmente con parlando. Ora credo che posso uso che cosa ho imparato. Mi piace di parlare, ma con le persone ancora sono nervoso perchè sono lenta con ascoltando e parlando. Credo che mia prouncia è bene (almeno il microfono pensa così!), quindi credo che il tempo e praticare sarà aiutare.

Al momento io pratico per almeno 2 ore per giorno, quotidiano, ma questo non è sempre le lezione con Duolingo, ma anche io leggo Facebook, e Twitter, e YouTube ecc.

If I Never Saw Venice Again…

My preoccupation with Venice is a bit obsessional. But I do like a good cause – something I can get behind. Something that inspires me and I can see the results of when I make the effort. I like the rallying cry from the city. You can see, and hear, the murmer of revolution in those 900 year old wings. It is potentially an exciting time. Venice is no stranger to fighting for its liberation. So why should now be any different?

And I suppose my Venexiane ancestry only serves to fuel the fire that is my interest in preserving the city and the welfare of its indigenous population. I am well behind the need to curb tourist numbers, to ban the ‘grandi navi’ (cruise ships), even to a charge for entering the Piazza San Marco if it controls numbers and the money is properly invested back into the city for the benefit of its people.

Which is ironic because for all my bleating on about protecting Venice, every time I go there I am essentially a tourist.  I try not to be one of the mob. I try to shop at the right places, to follow the rules, to be sympathetic to the problems of the cittidini and imagine how I would feel if I lived there and I had to put up with the hoards. But I know that by agreeing with the city’s cries for help, I could be pricing myself out of ever seeing my ancestral homeland again.

Lord Byron once said of his Carabinieri dealings, as they struggled in vain to liberate Italy from the Austrians in the 1820s:

‘It is no great matter, supposing that Italy could be liberated, who or what is sacrificed.’

And I concur.


Mia Prima Italiana blog – uh oh

Buongiorno a tutte. Quindi, io deciso che, ora mia Italiana è migliorare, che era tempo scritto alcune blogs in Italiano. Perchè ora ho stato imparare Italiano per cinque mesi. E era mia vacanza a Venezia solo due settiamane fa, che mi ha aiutato di veramente capisco la lingua e cosa voglio. E anche trovo che mia linguaggio Italiano, particolarmente parlare, non è che male. Credimi, ero sorpreso!

Mia paura di parlano scomparso quando arrivo a Venezia. Era mi solamente là con non aiuto. E molto persone a Venezia non parlano Inglese. Quindi, devo parlo Italiana. E questo era il perfetto modo per me imparare e pratica. Quindi, grazie Venezia – ti amo!

Mia problema ora che sono qui in Inghilterra è tenere parlano Italiano dove là sono tante Inglese persone e dove quasi tutto è Inglese.

Io ho Duolingo, Rai24 (radio e televisore), Youtube (WeilaTom, ItalianoAutomatico e Learn Italian with Lucrezia) ma vivere con Italiani in un posto che è totalmente Italiani è il meglio modo di imparare la linguaggio. Solo essere là significati che tu sei sempre pensiere in Italiano e parlante Italiano perchè hai non scelta. Questo è una cosa buona! Ovviamente.

E era un sopresso per me che era non difficile. Io sentato più stupido parlante Inglese che provare parlare Italiano. E quando trovi parlare Italiano le persone rispondono e loro sono molto gentile. Se fai il sforzo le persone sono felice aiuto. Per me è buono maniere provare. E anche mia vacanza era meglio per questo.

In Inglese noi chiamo questo ‘a light bulb moment’. Sono non sicura come questo traduci….ma….. ‘un lampadina momento’????? Forse.

Comunque, grazie per leggere questo – mia prima blog in Italiano.

Ciao ciao mie amicie!




It’s day two back in Manchester. I think I’ve come down from the trip. Leaving Venice was hard, as ever. But I kept reminding myself that in less than four months I will be back again. And that helped.


From the moment I got back I’ve been revising my research and my photos for the second edition of my book, firing off a few emails and planning for September. It keeps me focused. Amongst other things I’ve had a look at the financial damage from 6 days in the city. The general consensus is that Venice is expensive. But is it? If you want it to be, if you’re gullible, you can allow yourself to be stitched up left, right and centre by tourist traps. But you don’t have to be. The tourist stuff isn’t hidden and it doesn’t take much effort to find better places. If you’re lazy, serve you right.


So, what did I spend? In total, from start to finish I blew a respectable £759.83. That includes flight, travel insurance (for the whole year not just the trip), airport parking, my Airbnb, the Alilaguna return to the airport, my souvenier spending and my food, drink, travel and entry fees to attractions whilst I was there.

I spent £62 on souvenirs from Forcalaio Matteo, £19 at Libreria Acqua Alta and £8 on a flag. Yes, I know, my one actual tourist purchase but I had to have a flag for the wall at home.

Travel in the city cost £11 – a day return to Murano and two trips at the San Toma traghetto.

I  paid £6 for a walk up to the top of the Bovolo which was much nicer than the San Marco Campanile.


£208 went on food, drink and snacks including the rip off food at the airport (because by that time I had stopped caring). I didn’t eat at expensive restaurants. But I didn’t eat at any obvious tourists spots either. Dinner averaged £18 which would get me a course, wine or Aperol and coffee. Lunch was usually cichetti and an Aperol Spritz and they varied from 7 – 12 Euros depending on how central you were. Al Timon up near Fondamenta Nove was the cheapest. Cichetti is always very good and suits my eating habits perfectly.

Breakfast was always cappuccino and a croissant on the run at £2.20 and I managed a few icecreams and a few swift espressos on the run as well. A generous double cone will cost you £2.50 and an espresso will set you back just 1 Euro. Try getting that in London.

So I averaged about £30 a day on food and the food is good.

I don’t think that’s too bad for a week. I could have eaten for far less, but why go to a city with a wonderful food culture and eat microwave meals for the price of a cichetti? I adore fish and anything that comes from the sea. I love pasta, I love pizza. Basically I always eat Italian when at home anyway. This is just a far better and more authentic version. And because I was careful to go to good places that were recommended I feel like I’ve put a little back in. I don’t feel guilty is what I’m saying.

So here’s a roundup of everywhere I went (bar one or two cafes I forgot to note).

Al Timon
Museo Wagner
Casino Venezia (Wagner Concerto)
Bacaro del Gelato
Chiesa di San Felice
Chiesa di Santo Stefano
Basillica dei Frari
Murano (everywhere!)
Gelateria Ca’ d’Oro
Traghetto di San Toma
Cantina do Mori
Goppion Caffetteria
Palazza Mocenigo Casa Nuova
Squero di San Trovaso
Gelateria Nico
Scala Contarini del Bovolo
Teatro La Fenice
Libreria Acqua Alta
Biblioteca Fondazione Querini Stampalia
Le Forcole di Saverio Pastor
Osteria Ruga di Jaffe
Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute
Conca D’Oro
Bacarando ai Corrazzieri
Serra Dei Giardini
Basegò S.a.s

So you think Venice is still expensive? I beg to differ because you won’t find the Venice experience anywhere else in the world.


Venezia – 6 Giorno

Giovedì 11 maggio

Although today was my last day my flight wasn’t until 9pm. Which meant I had most of the day to enjoy. Thanks to online check in running the gauntlet at small airports is a breeze giving me back valuable holiday time.

I started my day with my last breakfast at Caffetteria Goppion which became my regular morning stop off. It’s just a few minutes walk from where I have been staying and I’m starving by the time I leave home in the morning. I love standing amongst the locals downing cappuccino and croissants standing at the counter. I didn’t use English once.

Then on to the San Toma Traghetto stop. A gondola ride was beyond me this visit but the Traghetto at €2 a go is a great second choice and just as nostalgic for me as it’s where Tita’s father worked in the 1830s.


Then on to the Libreria Aqua Alta. Which as well as being a huge novelty means I get to touch an actual real life full size gondola. It also turned up a few surprises. Leafing through a box of old Venice images I came across one of the church on Murano my family had used. I mean, that’s pretty obscure. And so I bought it.


I slightly lost track of my spending. The last day means overpriced food on the run at airports and tourist hotspots. But I only have so many Euros left in my purse so working out what I’ve spent isn’t that difficult. I’ll do a full run down soon.

Leaving Venice is the only time I get sad coming home. Because Venice isn’t a holiday. It’s about connecting with heritage and feeling at one with a place. It’s the only time I feel like I’ve found the place I belong. It’s why I’ve moved so many times and never settled. Nowhere feels like somewhere I could imagine spending the rest of my life.

I was wondering how it would feel coming back after 10 years. But not only did it feel like I’d never been away, but leaving it again was just as hard. Even so, it’s really difficult to decide where my loyalties lie. On the one hand Venice is heritage and it is, for me, far more beautiful than England. But Tita spent more of his life here in the UK than he did in Italy. I think, had he wanted to return, he would have. England is where he lived and died. He is buried here. Venice always feels like home. But England is home. It’s a tough call.

Even so, sat at one of Venice’s tourist spots at the bottom of the Rialto, supping what appears to be a pint of Aperol spritz, as I wring those important last moments from my trip before I head back on the Alilaguna, I feel like my heart is breaking, as it has every time I’ve left La Serenissima.


My one small consolation is that in less than four months I will be back again and I have plenty of work to do before I return. Even so, I am ‘non felice’. So here I am, back in Manchester. I seriously considered not getting on that plane today. But you can’t do that sort of thing anymore. Being here again has only confirmed what I already knew. That my heart, like my ancestry, comes from this place and it belongs in this place.

I’ve thought a lot about the tourism issue since I’ve been here. It’s been in the newspapers, I’ve observed it and I’ve talked to a lot of tourists throughout this trip. Tourism is about making money and generating income. As a tourist, if you do not spend money in your destinations of choice what use are you? It’s not all about taking. You have to give something back. Your footfall is not enough. And I think that is the bulk of Venice’s problem. Many of the tourists do not leave their money in the city.


Venezia – 5 Giorno

Mercoledì 10 maggio

Questo è la mia ultima sera a Venezia. E io dimentico scritto qualcosa in Italiano per tu! Mi dispiace per il mio amicie Italiani!

Quindi, io scrivo questo a cena – la mia ultima cena a Venezia. Sembra che non abbia mai lasciato Venezia. Io sono a casa. Ma, io trovato molto nuovo cose. Amo baccalà. Amo cichetti. Amo Aperol spritz. Anche che la mia lingua Italiana e meglio che pensato. Bravo per me!

Questa era la mia prima viaggio a Venezia solo. Anche la mia prima vacanza solo. E davvero questo è il migliore modo vedere a Venezia. Questo modo posso fare quello che voglio. Posso sedermi per ore e osservazione la gondole, anche l’acqua. Anche posso camminare dappertutto lentamente.  Per me questo e il perfetto modo vedere a Venezia.

E di corso io sono qui per la mia famiglia storia. Posso pensare e scrivere e prendere i foti per il mio richerca. Domani è la mia ultima giorno a Venezia. Devo completare il mio foti e vedere tutti i posti importante che io aspettato vedere per 10 anni.

Quindi, quella è il mio ‘blog’ in Italiano. Ora per l’inglese. Ciao ciao i miei caro amicie Italiani!

Today was my last full day in Venice. I spent the morning on a tour of Teatro La Fenice. Then to the Scala del Contarini Bovolo which is a fantastic alternative to the San Marco Campanile. It’s not as high but far prettier, more tranquil and I only saw two other people at the top. Then to the San Toma Traghetto where my g-g-g-grandfather’s father Vicenzo worked after he had retired as an active gondolier.




After lunch I met Alberto Toso Fei. It’s been probably just over 10 years since we last met in Venice. Like mine, Alberto’s family come from Murano and we both have a passion for Venice, its history and Tita’s story. In Alberto I see the enthusiasm and the passion I have for my ancestry and his enthusiasm and interest in what I do inspires me to carry on. We have stayed in touch all this time and I suspect our paths are likely to cross many times yet.

In the evening I returned to the Ca’Vendramin for the Wagner concerto, which turned out to operatic, and then I had dinner in San Polo where I ended up sitting next to a couple from Broadstairs in Kent. It is indeed a very small world.


I stayed out as long as I could. I love nights in Venice. This is when the history really comes alive for me. But I had to come home. My last sunset in Venice has come and gone and in the morning I have to pack my case so that I can go and make the most of my last day here.