Returning to Venice for the second time in twelve months, felt like a privilege. With the added convenience that the more I go, the more I feel I know the place, have less need to rush round, and do not feel a stranger to the system. It was quite a revelation to find the weather was absolutely perfect for intensive exploring, with blue sky with the most lovely sun at 14 degrees, which really cheered me up as in England it was still grey, wintry and cold. I also had the pleasant surprise of bumping into a fellow artist, my cousin, on the plane, who was commissioned to complete some murals inside one of the universities, so we went together to the Piazzale Roma, where I was dropped off and he went onwards on the boat.
Armed with my vaporetto travelcard for three days, I was set to go. I always get those, because although in theory walking is easy, cheap and remarkably quick as Venice is much smaller than the map would have you believe, it is extremely easy to get lost and wriggling around the back passages and streets is a minefield if you have a specific hotspot to get to, it takes ages to find your way round in the maze.
The aim was to complete the reference for the next batch of paintings, this time watercolour. Coming in March made me aware of several things, the place was remarkably peaceful and although busy, not crawling with tourists as can be the case in the summer and autumn season. It can be shoulder to shoulder on the bridges, but not in March.
To keep the energy going, a plate of good pasta with porcini mushrooms was well done, clearly of quality from the Rialto market nearby. Stick to near the Rialto and the food is better, elsewhere it can be rather hit and miss. Some Carbonara dishes are over egged for my liking, but the pizzas in Canareggio region are good.
Eventually I found the two art shops left in Venice, one the Testolini shop in the Baesolo Orsolo just to the left of St Mark’s Square, and the other a Cartoloria, by the Rio de San Trovaso, not very far from Academia. Both were not as good as the London art shops, Green and Stone, or Cornellissens.
I decided a trip to Murano would be a pleasant change from the main Venetian island. So off I went. It was quite hard to find glass shops who sold tasteful things that were desirable in my ‘humble’ artistic opinion, but eventually I found two shops selling a mixture of old and newer glass gifts.
The last morning went well, I left my baggage at the hotel and wandered round Dorsodoro and San Polo area, they have a really charm and simple beauty about the architecture and colour of the weathered stone, it was warm and sunny but lovely. Finally, I boated back up the grand canal and collected my bag and went on my first bus trip back the airport, No. 5 seemed to be right and reassuringly says ‘Marco Polo Airport‘ on the front….!
With many family connections to Italy, it is certainly a place I shall keep coming back to as much as possible. I just need to find out how to hire my own boat to get to all those really-difficult-to-get-at facades I so love rather than the split seconds from the vaporetto. Another adventure for another time!