After an unusually mild December in London, winter is finally starting it's assault, occupying more and more of the territory, from chilli mornings to equally cold days. So it's time for a tactical retreat to the south of Europe.
This time it just short 3 days break in Venice. In the middle of January, winter's hands are on this part of the high-heeled Italian boot too, but fortunately sun has decided to watch my little adventure and been shining during all this extended weekend. I have already been to Venice before, but last time it was in the middle of August, when you couldn't find where to hide from both sun and tourist crowds.
In the middle of the winter however, just a week before the start of the traditional Carnival, the city is relatively empty, so that famous pigeons perhaps outnumber tourists on St Marco square.
I am staying just next to it, few steps away from the heart of Venice, in the hotel called All'Angelo, while it perhaps not worth the stars it proudly displays on it's entrance, the location could not be better - just in the middle of everything.
I have no specific plans this time and have decided just to take a break from everything, daily routine, guide books , maps, "must see" attractions, and instead just walk... take pictures of everything which seems worth remembering... try local sweets and traditional , made in a wooden oven, pizza, accompanied by small but strong espresso and of cause Italian wine.
On the first day I took direction to Rialto Bridge, the oldest of the four bridges across the Grand Channel, which this time disappointingly was covered in scaffolding and posters.
After crossing, I went deeper into an urban forest of pastel coloured houses, bridges and narrow, like designed for hobbits, streets. Here, being surrounded by probably one of the most beautiful cities of the world, you finally can start feeling the atmosphere of this historic place. Wherever you look there is something to grab you attention - whether that is gondolier waiting for his prey - customers , or an exhibition, like the one I went to, which was all about genius of Leonardo and his inventions.
Having spent most of the day walking around and being caught by sunset on the other bank of the Grand Channel - I took few pictures of the city with the perfectly matching background of pastel coloured skies , and went back to St. Marco square in the dusk.
Most of the tourists have already left with the boats so I had almost all embankment for myself,only sharing it with just few groups something loudly discussing in the neighbouring cafés or few tourists who like me are staying in this area of the city.
On the second day I have decided to take a look at the city from above, climbing the stairs to the colonnade on top of Saint Mark's Basilica, a perfect example of Italo-Byzantine architecture. Surprisingly few people decided to follow my example with most staying below, feeding pigeons or taking photographs.
After seafood pizza accompanied by house wine, I kept walking around the city, enjoying the views of the city above and below the water line - in reflections. Numerous bridges are looking all different and at the same time the same, boutiques are mixed with numerous souvenir shops, selling everything from Venetian masks to souvenirs made from Murano glass.
On the last day, after checking out from hotel, I have decided to take a walk at the part of the city which
still mostly occupied by locals.Where the houses has crumbling plaster and instead of souvenir
shops you can find those that are selling fruits and vegetables. Where instead of banners, advertising boutiques, you
more likely to find laundry drying on a rope. However, it was still interesting to see this side of
Venice, it is like turning designer t-shirt inside out and seeing all the seams on the shirt but also seeing the label and
better understanding what it was made of.