Up earlier than I'd expected this morning. My faithful travel alarm clock said it was 5:45 but I'd forgotten that the clocks fell back last night, In local time it is 4:45. But sunrise takes no account of the ways in which we humans try to mark it; it is still coming and I need to be out in the city with my camera to record its arrival.
Venice is cold this morning. A light breeze is blowing ice, a fact that is especially noticeable on the Grand Canal. After a couple of hours, my fingers are numb and I am worried that I am going to drop something (like an expensive lens) into the cold green water. At 8:00 I head back to our flat for some coffee.
The air is much warmer when the Euro2000 team sets out at lunch time. We decide that we will take the traghetto across the Grand Canal at Campo Sofia, and then work our way through San Polo to the Campo Santa Margherita, which is supposed to be renowned for good food and a congenial atmosphere. Visitors to Venice, especially those of you with tight purse strings, let me give you a tip: if you want to experience a gondola ride, but don't want to clean out your wallet for a forty minute ride, then the next best thing is a traghetto. These are larger gondolas, holding up to fourteen passengers and rowed by two gondoliers. The fare to cross the Grand Canal at Campo Sofia is only two euros—a value at twice the price.
We crossed the canal and walked through the empty stalls of the fish market. The market is closed on Sundays, but the savory smell lingers. You would never mistake this for a flower market. Our route passed through the Campo San Polo, and wound around the Frari.
Campo Santa Margherita is an open space in the southern quadrant of Venice that is shaped a bit like a tall woman's boot. Although we had never been here before, it did seem a bit more touristy than some of Venice's other squares. The clearest sign of this was the food—less than brilliant—with much steeper prices than we'd encountered last night. Oh well, the sun was out, and, for inexplicable reasons, a large group at a table in the next restaurant would sporadically burst out in multi-part choral offerings. Tiny birds darted around our feet, hoping that we would drop some bread for them.
We finished our walk by passing along the southern waterfront in Dorseduro. Competitors in the Venice marathon passed us as we strolled along the waterfront. At a bridge we saw an encouraging sign, “Only 13 more bridges to go.” At least I think it was intended to be encouraging.
The sun was declining in the afternoon sky, so, as we neared Rialto on our return trip, the team parted with the girls browsing the souvenir shops while I set off with camera to catch the evening light. I decided to work Santa Croce, the area just beneath the northern loop of the Grand Canal. This did not prove to be a wise choice: I never really found the perfect post for a sunset picture and ended up getting skunked. There will be more nights to come, I told myself.
I realized that, by the time I returned home, I had been out walking around the city for nine hours. A long day. But, as with any day in Venice, a good and satisfying one.