It was with some trepidation that I agreed to meet C, my travelling companion, in Venice in July, imagining myself wedged between troops of tourists under a sweltering sun. But nothing could have been more diferent. I arrived at San Lucia station after a 10-hour train journey and C was waiting for me on the stone steps outisde with a watertaxi And so I found myself speeding down the Grand canal through a wide and almost totally empty expanse of water with the magnificent palazzos on either side rising out of the water and reflecting the golden rays of the setting sun behind us. My heart melted. However many millions of people have seen that same view before me, photographed it, selfied it, filmed it and poetised it, it must still be the most stunning entry into any city anywhere. A perfect mango. Later, after supper and a bottle of wine, we managed to get lost in a labyrinthine maze of dimlylit and empty alleys which always seemed to lead to a canal and a dead end. I was sure we were about to see a spooky little girl in a pointy red hood who would make us lost for ever but luckily we were saved by the iphone.
So much to see in Venice. Next day we visited a church, Santa Maria deii Miracoli, made entirely of marble, a house of cards built in stone, so airy and light you felt it might float away. And the huge Scola Grande de San Rocco, where every wall and every ceiling is covered by canvasses depicting biblicsl scenes by Tintoretto. Dark scenes full of movement and writhing bodies. Like being in another world. Then the old Jewish ghetto with hebrew lettering over the doors and men in skull caps -what might still have existed in so many cities if things had been diffeent – and last but not least deadly delicious Bellinis in Harry’s bar. Peach pulp and prosecco, according to the barman. These were my highlights in Venice, all of thrm perfect mangoes.
Tomorrow we start on a trip round the Balkans. Will keep you posted.