Moon Over Miracoli
March 29th, 2005 | Posted by Shannon
It is always so good to get back to Venice. It is, in so many ways, where I belong.
I say this after not living here for almost three years now. One must keep these little tidbits in mind, before getting one’s panties all in a twist about possibly moving back.
I got in Saturday night, just barely after a five minute sprint across the Frankfurt airport, and immediately went out to eat a pizza at Casa Mia and then go have a glass of wine at my favorite wine bar, La Cantina. By the time I did all that, it was already 11:30 P.M. So I went to the Piazza to hear the midnight Marangona, the bell that rings in the Campanile, the bell that I measure all my Venice time by.
I thought Easter would be a quiet day, with all the bars and restaurants closed. Boy was I wrong. It was PACKED here, and all the restaurants, all the bars, were open, even the places that are normally closed on Sunday. Osteria da Alberto was open. It is my favorite place (besides La Zucca) and I absolutely love the guy who works behind the bar. I went in and asked, in my most pleading voice, if I could please, pretty please have a table, but they were completo. They are always completo. There was a flea market in Santa Maria Nova, so I went and checked out the stalls there, then skulked back in to Osteria da Alberto. “OK then,” I told Favorite Barman. “Cichetti solo, alla banca.” It’s almost better, anyway, standing at the bar there. I had the best plate of cichetti, roasted potatoes so soft they practically melted in my mouth, peas with pancetta, some frittata, and some little marinated peppers stuffed with anchovies and capers. Favorite Barman commented on how good my Italian was. I wish I knew how to say “dude, you must be totally insane, because my Italian truly sucks.” Maybe Alice Twain can hook me up here.
From there I went into San Marco, and sat in the window in Il Cavatappi for the longest time, staring at the gazillion tourists streaming by. Nap time, then Easter dinner, with friends. The Maltese wine was not a hit, but I kind of liked it. I got home just before the bell rang.
I thought Sunday was uber-crowded. Yesterday was like Sunday on steroids. Speaking of Alice Twain, yesterday I got to meet her, and hang out with her and her boyfriend Luca, for the day. When I walked from my apartment near San Giovanni & Paolo to the train station (a thirty minute walk on a main thoroughfare) it was like a wall of people, all the way… thousands and thousands of people headed to San Marco and Rialto. I have never seen Venice so crowded. Not even during the Carnivale.
So when I met Silvia/Alice and Luca, I took them over the Scalzi Bridge, where we might have a chance to breathe. And sure enough, for most of the day, we walked around without total tourist annihilation. I took them to Campo Santa Margherita, down to La Salute, then back up through San Polo (where we did run into some tourist hell). We spent a good part of the day sitting in the cafes of Santa Margherita. It was sunny and warm there. Silvia gave me a beautiful scarf of purple and light blue wool that she made herself. They were fun to be with and we had a great Pasquetta just wandering around.
It is pretty funny, Alice wanted to come to Venice to see the “new” bridge that connects Piazzale Roma and Ferrovia. I was looking but I didn’t see any bridge! It might have occurred to me sooner that there is no way they are going to be able to build a bridge over the Grand Canal that fast. Eventually we saw a sign and a rendering of the bridge that isn’t built that Alice Twain came to see.
Last night I went to Trattoria da Alvise for dinner, on the Fondamenta Nove. Ruth wrote this one up for the book, so I went in to check and make sure it was still good. I ate some salad and fried calamari and they had a really nice house Cabernet Franc. They had a copy of “Chow!” on their bookshelf. I wanted to out myself so bad… but I didn’t, because that would defeat the book’s purpose, right? There is a new hotel on the Fondamenta… it looks really nice, with rooms looking out over the Northern Lagoon.
After dinner I went to the Tortuga Pub, a bar where there are no tourists, ever, to make sure the music selection was as I remember it. I remember the Tortuga used to be so smoky that I would have to stick my head out the window from time to time, to suck some air in, but I endured this because where else do they play Queens of the Stone Age in Venice? But now, with the new no smoking law, we get to breathe again! It is totally awesome, let me tell you.
The pub was playing U2 (old stuff, not new drivel) but there was a birthday party for a 16-year-old in the other room and a DJ started spinning some fine Italian rap. 16-year-olds on Guinness plus bad music equals I think I will finish my wine and go. But then I started talking to this British couple (his very first words were, “you are not a George Bush supporter, are you?” I kid you not) and we ended up drinking and talking for several hours; I am meeting them at La Cantina in an hour or so.
I love walking home from the Fondamenta Nove at night. My apartment this week is very close to where I used to live, and this is a walk I know well. The mists, the canals, the calli where if you stick out both elbows you hit both walls. In the day there were thousands, at midnight, I cross paths with two, maybe three people. The only sounds are soft, tiny waves breaking and the click of heels in an echo chamber. The Marangona is ringing, in the distance. It is a city of ghosts, my ghost, other ghosts, shrouded in a veil of midnight fog.