Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Postcards from Italy
The nine o'clock bell rings on our last day in Venice. It is, in a word, oversaturated. The main streets swim with trinket shops and tourists. The water is almost too green. The sun is sweltering hot in the open "campos". But for all this, a mystery remains in this city - stuccoed over with a few hundred years. It is this mystery that keeps me searching the shadowed alleyways, where daylight only lasts from noon until three. I seek out the house where Ezra Pound lived in the early 20th Century, I visit the prisons of the Doge, cross the Bridge of Sighs. Today, I walked for hours looking for San Barnaba, after confusing it with San Barbaro (I walked by the lute player in that square five times, from different angles). San Barnaba (at least the facade) is the location where Indiana Jones breaks a hole in the library floor and finds the tomb of the Knight Templar.
We have, for most of our nights here, slept in a place that calls itself "The Most Beautiful Bookstore in the World". It has a back door right onto a quiet part of the canal, and many books are stacked on top of two out of use gondolas that are placed in the middle of the store. Perhaps that mysterious force of Venice guided us to those little rooms, not advertised anywhere. We found out they had dorm rooms on a simple inquiry into the bed and breakfast they had on a different floor. No other visitors came the four nights we stayed. The only other people that crossed our path there were a Romanian family, and K-----, an ex-American writer (with a desire to open up her own nude beach on the islands) who looked after the place. She regaled us nightly with her opinions on the CIA's activities in Venice. As for sleep, our beds were nestled among overstocked books, underneath chandeliers and a paint-flaked ceiling (I've attached a picture of the unused master bed below). A courtyard was ours to use during the day, with a clothes line to hang our washings and several cats, who liked to rest upon the table. It was from this home base that we would strike out daily in our exploration of the city. More on that, later.