Friday, March 10, 2017

March 10, 2017

The Alps were vast and fearful and very white, and the sea, or some great river, comes right up against them. On the first visible patch of the lagoon I saw a cormorant: a good sign. Bells ring in the early twilight of European winter. Room 21 of the Hotel dei Dragomanni, which I chose for the beauty of its name. I was not sufficiently warned that the streets of Venice are not navigable as the streets of other cities are, and when the water taxi left me off at Santa Maria del Giglio I had no idea where my digs were, or how to get there. There are numbers on the buildings, but the crazed complex of dead ends and wandering alleys and sudden canali render them problematic. I asked a woman on a set of stairs where I was going, and she told me. At a certain square I hesitated, and a statuesque gray haired woman pointed me the way. Either she had been listening on the stairs or she was a guardian angel of the labyrinth. The hotel is adequate. The room has a view of a sea of roof tiles like those of All Souls, and the not very distant campanile of San Marco. Though I was wasted from the flight, I wandered around, determined to get the lay of the land and water. Lunched in the Campo St. Stefano under a sky of perfect and unblemished azzura, almost mystical. Venice is surprisingly– what is the word I want?– worn: an imperial dowager who has stopped keeping herself up. I feel an immediate affinity, though, with her complexity, her essential secretiveness, her fluid and opalescent core. I stood on the bridge of the Rialto and watched the Grand Canal shimmer under a moon that is almost full, and I felt at home. Almost too hot for the clothes I brought in the afternoon, it was almost too cold for them in the evening. I sat at an outdoor table near La Academia drinking prosecco, and the waiter kept checking to see if I was too cold. I was, but to come in I would lose sight of the street. Venice is badly lit, compared to London or New York, and walking down her alleys by night you hope that words like “slasher” or “creature” do not come to mind. Concert of Tartini, Vivaldi, Mozart at St Vidal. I sat close enough to note the expressive faces of the musicians. The excitable cellist stopped the concert to tell some lady– who had already been warned once by the usher–to stop filming with her goddam phone. The men are handsome and delicate looking, and more uniformly dark than I remember from Florence or Rome. Watching Italia’s Got Talent before bed. Judging by this, no it doesn’t.

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