In recent days, I spent time admiring beautiful photos of Venezia taken by Merisi of Merisi' Vienna for Beginners (this is the set I looked at most recently). We also exchanged a couple of emails on the subject and that reminded me of a post I started writing some months ago, on the eve of a trip to my country of origin, and never finished. Thanks, Merisi, for inspiring me to tie up this lose end.
The last time my husband and I visited Venice, it was on a Sunday. It was not my original plan, but bad weather made us postpone the trip and I am glad we did, as the day we were there was made glorious by the warm light of an October sun. At lunch time (ora di pranzo), we went to a ristorante (restaurant) we knew from previous visits, located not far from one of my favorite places in Venice, a detail of which is the subject of the photo on the right, and found it closed. Another place I knew that I wanted to show to my husband was also closed. In both cases, a sign announced:
(CLOSED Sunday) Being closed one day of the week is normal for restaurants and stores in Italy, but the knowledge did nothing to console my disappointment that day.
Things have somewhat evolved in recent years: store closure has adapted to a change in the rhythm of life. Monday morning used to be the weekly closure for grocery stores in Milan, but now large grocery stores (supermercati) are open. In Perugia, my home town, the day was Thursday and the time slot the afternoon. Sunday closure is still pretty much observed across the spectrum of stores. Restaurants are an exception, but obviously not all of them. The famous Italian long lunch closure is often no longer in place, but the variability across type of business, part of Italy and big city versus small town is wide. Hence, my recommendation for when you visit is to check the hours of operations posted on the store's door or ask if you are unsure, so that you are not caught unawares.
Back to Venice, the building of the photo at the beginning of the post is called Scala Contarini del Bovolo. Bovolo in Venetian dialect means spiral staircase (scala a chiocciola). If you are in Venice, you may want to climb up to the top for an amazing 360 degree view of the city (the wikipedia entry in Italian has some photos). I particularly like to be there towards sunset, when the light is just magic. The Scala's web site [in Italian] says that the Scala is temporarily closed for restoration. There is no estimated date for the reopening, but it will certainly not be before the end of this year [personal communication].
I am fascinated by the gondola and I like to take photos of parts of one as it floats by me (photo above, on the right). I also like gondole at rest, like in the photo on the left, or undergoing maintenance, when one can see them upside down. One of the best places to hear people speaking the musical dialect is a gondola boarding location, where thegondolieri assemble and exchange banters.
Street signs in dialect are one of the fascinating elements of the city. The one in the photo says: sotoportego e corte de le carozze (under-arcade and court of the carriages). [I decided not to record my reading of it, because I really don't have the right accent.]
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the cartolina da Venezia: chiuso la domenica audio file [mp3].