Depth in Venice.

Humorist Robert Benchley is famously remembered to have dispatched a humorous telegram upon his arrival in Venice: “Streets flooded. Please advise.” Very funny. Well, maybe uproariously funny any week other than the one we were there. Because I hadn’t done my homework and didn’t realize we should have packed hip boots.

We arrived Venice on a sunny mid-October afternoon and checked in to our “splurge’ hotel of the trip, the fabled Hotel Gritti Palace. We enjoyed a late lunch on the hotel terrace and watched the gondolas drift by, all the while, my heart doing little cartwheels to celebrate I’m in Venice! I’m in Venice! I’m in Venice!


The CE on the terrace at the Gritti Palace.


View from our hotel room.

Things didn’t exactly go downhill from there, but some things, notably water, inexplicably went uphill.

I had not bothered to avail myself of some key information about Venice in the fall and winter months, that is, the phenomenon of acqua alta. High tide, low atmospheric pressure and a keening scirocco wind from the Adriatic floods water from Venice’s lagoon into the canals, over the bridges, onto the sidewalks and turns the Piazza San Marco from a pigeon aviary into a fishbowl. Oh, and those sunny skies must have departed for Rome, because it poured rain for most of our visit.

Acqua Alta, Venice, Italy October 2015

Welcome to Venice during acqua alta. The sidewalks looked just like the canals.

acqua alta one

Stairs to nowhere when the acqua alta visits Venice.

The selfie stick vendors around St. Marks thoughtfully switch to selling plastic booties, but you have to be able to get to St. Marks in order to buy them. “Duck boards” – long narrow tables that bring to mind a fashion show catwalk are erected and the swarms of tourists press and grumble and jostle along in a huff. Imagine the I-405 freeway being reduced to one lane shared by both north and southbound travelers and you kind of get the idea.

booties venice

These booties are the must-have fashion accessory in Venice during acqua alta.

Our tour of St. Mark’s Basilica (which, regrettably, was under scaffolding anyway) was canceled and we couldn’t get to the water taxi launch for our planned lunch at the Hotel Cipriani. But we didn’t exactly suffer, as we simply retreated to our exquisitely lovely room to wait out the tide.

our room gritti palace venice

Cozy, yes?

roses our room gritti palace

Roses in our room.

our balcony venice

View from our balcony on a day it wasn’t raining.

The water retreated between tides and we eventually made it to St. Mark’s and to the Doge’s Palace.

jesus st mark's venice

St. Mark’s

doge's palace venice

Late afternoon at the Palazzo Ducale

mouth of secret denunciations doge's palace venice

A sinister “suggestion box” at the Doge’s Palace: The inscription translates: “Secret denunciations against anyone who will conceal favors and services or will collude to hide the true revenue from them”. Accusers slipped their denunciations into the mouth of the “lion” and the accused’s next stop might be the feared Bridge of Sighs.

more pigeons venice

When the rain stops, the pigeons come out.

Glass store by our hotel where we bought gifts

We did a little shopping for Murano glass at F.G.B. di Bubacco Giorgio

Oh, and a little water didn’t keep us from having a few fine meals while we were in Venice. We sat canal-side our first evening for a casual but romantic al fresco dinner at Da Raffaele, had a wonderful Sicilian meal at A Beccafico and a memorable “last supper” at the tiny Osteria alle Testiere, which I couldn’t find again if my life depended on it. Being lost in Venice is a kind of art form, I am told.

A Beccafico limoncello venice

At A Beccafico we were treated to house-made limoncello.

Sole, Alla Testiere, Venice

Osteria alle Testiere is one of Venice’s most popular (and hard to find!) restaurants. Make sure you have a reservation!

Despite the rain and the flooding, it was very hard to say goodbye to Venice, and to Italy. We made light of it, certain that this was not a final farewell but just a temporary displacement from our true home. I don’t think a first trip to Italy can possibly also be the last. The place! The people! The art! The food! The limoncello! As Giuseppe Verdi famously said, “You may have the universe if I may have Italy”.  Amen to that.

water taxi venice

The CE in the water taxi heading to the airport.

venice aerial view

One last look at Venice from the sky. There’s no place like it.




About polloplayer

Empty nester searching for meaning of life through the occasional chicken epiphany.
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3 Responses to Depth in Venice.

  1. citymama says:

    what a remarkable trip you had. have loved each post and photo. xo

  2. Katherine says:

    gorgeous photos!!! Rain or no rain, it still sounds and looks glorious.

  3. dizzyguy says:

    Venice is the one place that truly has no other equal. The structuring of life around the rising and falling of the waters is remarkable to watch. Shopkeepers must know the tide tables and get up in the middle of the night to erect their water barricades. But they do it so we can all enjoy what is surely the most unique city anywhere. We just had the best time!!

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