It’s been a difficult time for everyone. I began to feel guilty about taking time out and travelling to Venice for a couple of days. Would it be safe? Were we keeping to guidelines? Then, a local shopkeeper, listening to my fears, told me that if everybody thought like I did, then the economy would grind to a halt. So, with facemasks and hand sanitiser packed, we set off.
It was partly in order to finalise research for my next book which will be published in spring 2021, but mainly because we were ground down and needed a change.
I hadn’t visited Venice since I was eleven. To tell the truth, the only image I remember from all those years ago is my parents holding hands in a gondola. It was the first time I had seen them do this and it made me giggle. But Venice is a romantic city and umpteen years later, as we wandered around the calli and took the vaporetto (instead of riding in a vastly expensive gondola), I held my own husband’s hand as Venice worked her charm.
It was an excellent time to visit. Venice was not busy and we managed to find a little guest house that looked on to the Gran Canale. We packed a lot in but it was details that captured my interest: the reflections in the murky water, the strange Spanish influenced names of squares and courtyards, the carnival masks and the feeling that this magical place belonged in a story book. I shivered as we passed by the dungeons and crossed the Bridge of Sighs. In the Ducal Palace, I wondered how many citizens had posted information about their neighbours into the mouths of the stone lions that served as secret message boxes. Today, I listened to BBC Radio and the news that if our own citizens do not follow new isolation rules, hefty fines might be incurred and neighbours might report on those who do not comply. Nothing changes…
We moved on to Trieste. A very different Italian city that was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for more than five hundred years. What a complicated history. I spent time in a bookshop (after being asked to wear gloves AND to use sanitiser on top), and I have a few more ideas for stories brewing in my head. We were told that people of Trieste do not like staying at home and we spent a couple of evenings with them in the piazza, people-watching while we drank aperitivi. I tried to talk to James Joyce (who loved this city), but he didn’t reply…
Our final stop was the beautiful city of Padua, known as Padova in Italy. I have fallen in love with Giotto (1267 – 1337). His amazing work is over seven hundred years old; the characters in his paintings are so real. I imagine that in ordinary times we would have had to queue for our fifteen-minute slot but that was not the case for us. I would happily return and return to the Scrovegni Chapel to sit and drink in the images on the walls and ceiling. If anybody can be bothered to read my books in ten years’ time, I will be ecstatic. But seven hundred years later???? I don’t think so.
I’ve only dipped into our five-day adventure and this is rather a “photographic blog” . We saw far more than I have described , including the ruins of the Roman town of Aquilea, which is reputed to be one of the largest cities of its era.
There is so much to discover in this world of ours, so many more stories to tell.
We were physically tired on our return, having walked miles in 33 degrees, but the trip inspired me and I am ready to put pen to paper again (and fingers to keyboard). The cobwebs are gone.