Monday, 31 October 2016

Letter from Venice (25) 31-10-16

I decide to revisit Torcello in order to climb the bell tower which gives excellent views of Venice in the distance and the whole lagoon. The number 12 leaves from the Fondamente Nove at ten past the hour so I arrive in good time to find around 400 people on the quayside waiting for the same boat. The boat comes alongside and around half of those waiting are able to board. I turn back and go the biglietteria where, as it is the end of October, I have them put twelve new vaporetto tickets on my Venezia Unica tessera. I then turn in the direction of the Rialto as I know it is closer to where I live than I had thought and I want to get a sense of the distance. I have made the mistake of coming without a map but, with the aid of some signs high on the walls of some campi and by asking in some shops I arrive at the bridge. Venice seems incredibly busy anywhere in the vicinity of the Rialto or San Marco. I stand on the bridge for a good hour looking south down the Canal. My interest is taken at first by an ambulance boat that ties up unceremoniously at the Rialto boat station causing vaporetti to wait while they offload personnel and a kind of wheelchair trolley. Then I begin watching the delivery boats loading and offloading just below me. On the side of each is a plaque with the words ‘Trasporto cose’ which roughly translates as ‘Things transporter.’ There are four bays with small wooden piers at an oblique angle to the quayside. All four are constantly occupied while other delivery boats chug a few yards off waiting for a slot. Each flat boat is stacked with boxes and parcels which the boatmen load onto large trolleys stored on deck, tie on with a single rope and then push assertively into the dense crowds. People take selfies next to me and a young Frenchman gabbles instructions into his phone.

I descend from the bridge into the Campo San Bortolomeo wondering how to head for Santa Maria Formosa to the east. I catch sight of a rusting blue sign for the Ospedale Giovanni e Paolo and head in that direction knowing it will take me through Santa Maria. I cross the lovely Campo Giovanni e Paolo and eventually arrive at my local Campo San Giustina where I see two notices advertising the local paper. They speak of 280,000 tourists in the city in one month and queues and difficulties on the bridges which is something I have encountered in the last few days. The final sentence is “They are coming by train.” I had come to Venice in October and November hoping to avoid the worst of the tourist season but there is no sign of it ending. For the same reason I have left visiting the Basilica di San Marco and the Doge’s Palace till November. It looks like I will simply have to join the queues.

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