Friday, December 13, 2013

Palazzo Ducale from the Number 1 Line, This Evening (5 pm)


  1. Thanks you for this photo. Fog makes Venezia more stranger and unreal, and everyday life more fascinating and exemplary. It reminds me a vaporetto journey with my kids (9 and 6 at that time) between Torcello and Venezia at the end of a very cold afternoon in February some years ago. The morning was very sunny and we took with us not enough warm clothes. After an icy visit of the Torcello cathedral with almost no tourist, we missed a vaporetto and waited for another one during one hour on the Torcello bank. Although running to and fro, the kids were chilled to the bone. The parents too, but tried to remain stoical. The promise of a double hot chocolate in the first bar of Fondamenta Nuove was more and more ineffective. The rebellion was growing simultaneously with twilight and fog. Once on board, began a very slow journey through the thickest fog I have ever seen. We passed some boats and vaporetto, seeing them hardly, with siren shouting to inform small boats and some Venitian rowing (incredible!) just out of the vaporetto channel following the “bricole”. Outside was terribly cold. Everybody stayed in warm inside the boat, in a very cheerful and noisy company of Venetian going back home. The kids were less cold but a bit afraid of the fog and the noisy atmosphere, and still impatient to drink a hot chocolate. We saw hardly Murano, and Venezia just at the last moment when the boat came to Fondamenta Nuove. After a chocolate, we walked a long time in the foggy “calle” of Castello among Venetian people making shopping, rapidly walking, discussing as usual. Finally it was wonderful moment for the kids and the parents. Anyway it is better to wear warn clothes in Venezia during winter…

    1. That is quite literally an extremely chilling story, Auvraisien. The idea of being out on Torcello with not enough warm clothes to wear in the thick fog with night coming on made me anxious simply in the reading of it. I would have been anxious that when the fog became too thick all vaporetti would simply stop running (as they often do). Your family certainly earned that hot chocolate--as well as an unforgettable experience. Thanks so much for writing about it.

    2. I don't want to make you anxious, but you are right, Sig. Nonloso. In fact, my wife and I were really very anxious, not only because of the cold, but above all of the vaporetto timetable and the rising night. It seemed there was nobody more than us on Torcello: no other tourist on the pier, the cathedral was closed and the attendant had left, no light visible in the rare houses around, and at that time we had no mobile phone. We have always been confident with transport timetables in Venezia in contrast to other parts of Italy. However, we could not be sure of any alteration on the present day. Of course, no information available on the pier. Fortunately, the vaporetto was still running and on time. Its arrival was a great moment for the kids and a great relief for the parents.
      I don’t know if there is currently some electronic device to spread instantaneous messages on the Torcello pier: if not, it may be a good idea for irresponsible tourists as we were, but may be this island out of the time has to remain out of the time. What is the best? It’s a recurrent type of questions in Venezia. A partial answer concerning Torcello is: now there are mobile phones – and they can work on Torcello, I suppose?
      Initialy, the rising fog looked like a promise of a magical journey back to Venezia. It became very thick and freezing suddenly when we went out of the Mazzorbo channel on the way to Murano, but fortunately we were in warm on board. You are right, Sig. Nonloso: an unforgettable experience and an unforgettable chocolate.
      Buon Natale!

    3. I kind of wish the Torcello vaporetto stop had remained as out-of-time as it was on that particular night, Auvraisien, but I think it's probably changed quite a lot since the last time you were there (IF that night was one of the last times you were there). The whole bank around it has been reinforced with concrete, the stop is much more substantial, and not only it, but the whole island feels much less "out-of-time". One could still be anxious about a vaporetto not arriving in the fog with night coming on, but I think much less so these days than in the past. In the book THE TOURIST MAZE, the authors even describe a plan to widen, straighten and pave the little canal that meanders from the lagoon to the cathedral in order to allow large tourist boats to disgorge their groups practically right at its door. This plan, fortunately, was defeated.

      I'm not sure if the Locanda Cipriani on Torcello would have been open on the foggy night you describe but it's now open all year round except for January. So for both better and worse, the memorable experience you describe is not likely to ever be repeated.

      Tanti auguri!