Michelle Lovric explains that to write about Venice is to seek new ways to describe the effect of water on marble. Sitting at a desk in Castello, a small canal just below the window – stone, wood and marble resting on the water’s lip – I’d be inclined to agree.
Except there’s a little more to it than that. On a Sunday morning, there’s the effect of 128 church bells on the clustered life of six sestieri. Right now, the bells are best described as the sound of fireworks on Bonfire Night. Loud and convincing, then quiet and distant; when they peal from the furthest reaches of Castello, their echo merely ripples the November gloom. Perhaps on a sunny day it will be different.
Then there’s light on Venetian plasterwork. The saturation shifting with the afternoon sun: gilded at twilight; drab and dirty on a white-washed morning like this. And of course the effect of fog, rain, ice, the aqua alta sirens, but we’ve yet to experience those.
Writing about Venice – properly I mean – requires the space to observe the movement of the seasons, or at the least the light and shade of an afternoon. Over the next five months I hope I’ll be able to capture the effect, not just of water on marble, but life on Venice, and her on me.
We’ve been in Venice for five days now.
The last time I wrote to you, I said that we wanted to move here for a few months at least, and I mentioned how we’d like to end up somewhere in Cannaregio, in a small apartment overlooking a canal. We got close. Our apartment is in western Castello, a two minute walk from Campo Santa Maria Formosa and about ten from Rialto.
There are two bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room. The bathroom is fitted with murky green tiles and is a little gloomy. But the place is cosy with Persian rugs, beams and paintings, some more tasteful than others.
And there’s the desk. A small mahogany one that drowns in light in the morning. Open the window and you hear the odd lurch of a boat on the canal below, or the confusion of passing visitors who’ve come across an unexpected dead end. Walk a few paces to the left and you’re on the congested Ruga Giuffa.
Now I’ve picked up this post in the afternoon, the light is failing and the wind howling. There’s the sound of rain on water and the gentle hum of the refrigerator. Now the desk is bathed in the glow of a desk lamp and the rest of the apartment is growing dark.
It feels so good to be writing again. This poor blog has been sorely neglected over the past year while I’ve attempted to balance a business and a Masters degree. But now I’m in Venice I’m going to bring it back to life, properly this time. Dom and I will both be writing posts, some will be simple vignettes on life in Venice, others helpful guides for those visiting. Oh, and there’ll be recipes, of course. Food cooked in our simple little kitchen, from ingredients bought on a pauper’s budget.
But for now it’s time for a small glass of wine (or un’ombra seeing as we’re in Venice), and an arrivederchi – I’ll be back very soon.