Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Venice in the rain

Day One in Venice - May 2006

This was my second visit to Venice and it started off in the dark and in the rain. My delayed flight arrived at Marco Polo Airport at around 10pm and I didn't see much on the ferry journey to the Lido. Murano appeared out of the night, looking picturesque, then vanished again. The Lido itself was unromantic – streets and cars rather than the canals and gondolas of Venice – but I was too tired to care about my surroundings. By now it was too late to go out for the evening, so having found my accommodation (Hotel Reiter) I did not leave again till morning.

My first day started with the ominous sound of raindrops on tarmac. It rained heavily for the entire day. So what is there to do in Venice in the rain? I soon discovered the limitations. With rain outside and condensation inside there wasn't a view through the windows of the vaporetto I took over the lagoon to Venice. And wandering the streets of Venice in the rain isn't as easy as it sounds. For a start, they're mostly narrow lanes, with room for only two people holding umbrellas to pass. Tourists in Venice aren't put off my the rain (most are only here for a day or two), and negotiating crowded thoroughfares with an umbrella while jumping puddles is no easy task. The covered colonnades around St Mark's Square had become a refuge and gathering point for hundreds of bright waterproof-clad tour groups.

Before long I found that getting around and sightseeing was far from straightforward. And with my shoes beginning to let water, the only thing to do was to get out of the rain.

So I visited the Museo Correr and the Museo Archeologico, a rambling complex containing some fine art and classical statues, as well as interesting scenes of Venetian life. The museum's facilities were inadequate, but apart from that it was a good way to spend a couple of hours.

I ate a quick, late picnic lunch in my hotel room, then braved the heavy rain once again and wandered the lanes of central Venice for a while, more from duty than inclination. I contemplated buying a new (dry!) pair of shoes to cope with the wet, then decided that I should be optimistic and hope for an improvement in the weather.

I was lucky: by the time I'd eaten dinner (a good asparagus risotto with white wine in a cheap restaurant close to the Lido ferry stop, called La Pizzeria) the evening was drying out. There were streaks of pink sunset in the sky over the lagoon. I wandered down to the waterfront to look at the view over towards Venice. An elderly drunk was singing loudly in a small park by the water's edge. He was singing in Italian, too – it's not often you see an Italian drunk. A police boat had pulled up alongside to investigate this untoward behaviour. A strangely picturesque way to end the day.

> Day Two: Torcello, Burano and an evening on the Grand Canal.

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