When I left you yesterday I was mulling over the window display at Chanel. I can honestly say nothing shouted at me to come back to the store this morning. But let me spin you 180 degrees to the opposing store window at Hermes, where the green alligator Lindy bag literally made me gasp out loud:
In Europe it’s not so uncommon to find signs showing prices of items displayed in the store windows. I suppose this way, you get the sticker shock out of your system before ever entering the store. At Hermes I saw no such signs or at least I don’t remember seeing any–perhaps everything faded to black after I saw this bag! Let’s just say it’s a good thing the store was closed because there’s no greater temptation to resist than falling in love with something before finding out it’s absolutely no good for your checkbook. Then you start to rationalize about selling everything you own, your kidney, maybe both kidneys, your least favorite kid (just kidding… any kid will do) to finance it.
Anyway, this morning I decide to chuck my usual obsessive compulsive habit of making a laundry list of stuff to see/do before heading out and instead to just go out there and watch Venice wake up. As predicted, it is drizzling this morning but luckily there are only small puddles instead of flooding on most streets. In this video I am going right under the famous Rialto Bridge, which was originally built out of wood in 1172 and then rebuilt in stone in 1557…
I hop off instead at the Rialto Mercato stop as there seems to be a lot of activities happening here:
This large, covered market is a foodie’s heaven. Fresh produce, seafood, meat, and flowers of all kinds are being laid out on stands as I arrive. I’m told most locals don’t eat out on Monday nights because there’s not much seafood delivered at the markets on Mondays, but today there seems to be something for everyone:
I can’t wait to eat some of this seafood for dinner tonight. So far I’ve been filling up on delicious vegetarian pasta and panini. I’m thinking I must have been born here in a past life because I just can’t get enough of Italian food in Italy.
Anyway, I leave the market to go to Isola di S. Michele, a cemetery island. Nicknamed Island of the Dead, it primarily houses a large cemetery and once a prison. When you approach the island, the first thing you see is the immense wall around it:
I’m hoping to catch a special funeral gondola today but only manage to see flowers being delivered prior to a service instead:
Inside the cemetery gates there are various sections and some chapels…
Prominent families have their own areas and some tombstones are more spectacular than others. But in the not so fancy part of the cemetery is actually where I find the graves I have come especially to view:
Diaghilev was a ballet impresario and founder of the Ballets Russes so it is fitting to see toe shoes left at his grave:
So after about 30 minutes on this island, I play vaporetto hopscotch along the Grand Canal of Venice to see if I can’t immortalize this city through my lenses:
But traveling is so much more than just spotting the sights highlighted for you on tourist maps. It’s about running across someone’s life in action…
It’s seeing every day events like a police chase that can happen in your own backyard (or in this case, canal)…
Or finding a fast food joint like McDo, except it all sounds so much more charming to call a Big Mac a panini:
And sometimes for me, it’s just getting mildly lost even with a map in hand…
and struggling with but not minding the rough weather because…well, just look at where I am:
Besides, after a cold day, there’s every excuse to recharge with the celebrated Bellini at Harry’s Bar if you can stomach the 15 Euro cocktail:
But I think overall, one of the most fun things to do when traveling is just people watching. In observing behavior, speech, and dress of local denizens as well as global tourists, you get to briefly inhabit their space and see what it’s like to be so different and yet so alike wherever you happen to be.
Today I leave you with two memorable if small things that I stumble into on my last evening here. The first is La Bottega dei Mascareri, a mask store at the foot of the Rialto Bridge. Yes, it is tourist central on the bridge, but this 25-year-old shop is owned by a rather cool guy (along with his brother) whose creations have been used in movies like Eyes Wide Shut and featured in a ton of fashion magazines. I literally want to buy every mask in his store but walk out with two. For some reason I don’t think this will be the last time I will see him.
The other is simply this view from the top of the bridge. To the right of this picture are restaurants where you can dine al fresco and watch the boats sail by. I have to confess I do have dinner here even if I should have gone to a less touristy place on my last night and tried something more “authentic.” But I’m enamored with the canals and it’s here that I want to spend my last waking hours watching the world go by. Because sinking or not, Venice is forever.