Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Letter from Venice (29) 16-11-16

On my last day of visiting I enter the Accademia at 10.30am. It seems mercifully under-populated and I am able to see the Bosch triptychs and sit and look at much Tintoretto, Carpaccio and Tiepolo before encountering a large art-studying group and guide. I listen in for a while.

In the late afternoon section of the Italian day when all of the shops are open I continue my three week long search for a barber. I’ve been told there is one in the Calle di Stagneri near the Rialto. I had been before but found the shop shut up. Today it is open but, before I sit down, the youngish barber tells me that it is on appointment only. I ask him if there are any others hairdressers in the vicinity. He directs to me the Salizada San Lio. I head to the cold, busy and brightly lit thoroughfare and, being tempted to buy canoli in a little bakery shop, ask where the barbers is. Locating it, I enter the little shop which is wood-panelled and centred around a tiled pillar with two sinks on two of its sides. There is a single female barber. She is middle-aged and wears white coat, lipstick and an almost bouffant hairdo. The customer in the chair and the one waiting are both taciturn and elderly Italian men. A younger family enters with a mop-haired small boy on a scooter and in need of a haircut. The place is now very crowded. When it is my turn to take the chair I tell the hairdresser how hard I have found it to locate a barber. She tells me she is the only female barber in Venice and gives me a copy of a press article about her. Her name is Irene Pitzalis. She took over the business after her father, a Sardinian called Giovanni Pitzalis, died last May having run the business from the Salizado San Lio since 1968. From the age of eight his daughter accompanied him in the shop, at first allowed to wash hair and, later, to learn how to shave customers. Irene, in the article, says she wouldn’t be able to deal with all the gossiping involved in women’s hairdressing and so is happy to be in her business. She cuts my back and sides as I ask her to but the top looks a little Danny Zuko as I emerge once more onto the Salizada clutching a hand-written receipt for 15 Euros.

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