Much to my dismay, Venice has presented me with clouds this morning when I hit the alleys running. I had hoped to capture a beautiful sunrise from the Piazza San Marco, but grey clouds are stuffing the sun, and I end up wandering the calles in a gloomy funk. I would like to capture some astounding photos of the city, but you can't make a glorious golden light. I need the sun and the weather is not cooperating.
I must also confess that I am more than a little disturbed about all of the graffiti that has been sprayed over the city. I can't remember a time when there has been so much in view. Vicious little morons with spray cans have been having a heyday in the city I love above all others and it is making me extremely cross. Venice is a work of art. I can't believe that anyone, even youths with only one functioning brain cell would dare to desecrate it. If I happen across one of these idiots in my predawn peregrinations, I have already resolved to bash him (or her) with my tripod.
We have fallen into a workable pattern early on here in Venice. I shoot for a couple of morning hours, then we all go out for lunch and spend the afternoon moseying about the city. The girls come back for dinner, while I continue to shoot until all promise seems to have drained out of the evening, and then I return as well.
Today we have lunch in a restaurant we discovered during our Christmas stay. It is not far from the Campo of Saints John and Paul. The cook has a fabulously light hand with his pizza dough; everything we've tried there has been marvelous. People say that there is no good food in Venice, but what this really means is that they've never been far enough off the main tourist routes to sample some of Venice's closely guarded secrets.
Down the back way to Piazza San Marco. Gracie wants to feed the pigeons―her fondest experience in the city―so we are heading for tourist central. At least we are not on the main routes between Rialto Bridge and San Marco, which are invariably gridlocked with tourists. We pass through the Campo Santa Maria Formosa and slip into Piazza San Marco through the back entrance.
Much to our dismay, the corn sellers have once again been banished from the Piazza. We hadn't expected to find any when we spent Christmas here―having read that the city was trying to reduce the number of pigeons by cutting off their food supply―but, in fact, they had still been in business then. Today, however, no one is selling corn and the reason can't be because there are no tourists. People are bringing their own food with them, mostly bits of bread, to encourage the docile pigeons to land on their outstretched arms or heads. We don't have any bread, so Grace does not get an opportunity to play with her birds.
The afternoon is drawing on, so I hurry back to the flat to grab my tripod while the girls head off to the souvenir shops. I discover an alternate route to San Marco, joining the Campo of the Holy Apostles and Saint Mary of miracles. My route is longer than the standard path which runs past Rialto bridge, but it is largely tourist free and I am able to swing along, unimpeded by the usual crowd.
I wanted to get some evening shots around the Piazzo San Marco, especially of the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, across the Canale di San Marco as the light fails. I also wanted to bag another shot of the Bridge of Sighs, which crosses the canal between the Doge's Palace and the prison. I was stunned and amazed, when I arrived on the scene, to see that the entire backside of the Doges Palace and the prison has been swathed in a large blue tarpaulin, covered with an advertisement for Lancia automobiles. I assume that this monstrosity is covering scaffolding. The Bridge of Sighs appears as a small white marble arch, lost in the blue.
I am more successful with my shots of San Giorgio Maggiore and spend about an hour sitting on the marble quay, waiting for the natural light to fade and the monks to turn on the church lights. While I watched, two immense cruise ships motored past, flashbulbs popping in the night as the cruisers captured their last sentimental memories of Venice. Who could blame them?