We are in the wonderful city of Venice for 10 days celebrating two special birthdays this year – Julia was 60 in May and I will be 75 in November. Julia has never been to Venice but I first came here nearly 60 years ago on a school trip when I was 16. That visit is eternally etched in my memory because our Latin master took 40 of us hormonal teenagers to Rome and Venice on his honeymoon?! He was a Roman Catholic and we stayed in hostels run by nuns. You can imagine the chaos.
To be truthful I can’t remember that much about that visit so I too am looking forward to being here in this remarkable city. I am calling this short series of blogs ‘Deaf in Venice’ because amongst Julia’s pet names for me ‘Deafo’ is becoming more prominent. It is not that I am really gradually becoming more deaf – I have had my hearing tested and am just about on right side of the scale – it is that (like many married men) I have developed selective hearing. It actually runs in the family. My late Uncle Ron had one of those old fashioned huge deaf aids, and his wife, my Auntie Ethel, used to talk a lot. I asked Uncle Ron one day how he coped with her non-stop chatter. He smiled knowingly, pointed to his deaf aid, and said, ‘I just switch it off! I can see her lips moving, and I have learned to nod every now and again, but for the most part I live in a world of peace and quiet!’
‘Deaf in Venice’ is therefore a good overall title for these blogs firstly, because ‘Deafo’ is here, and secondly, our Guide Book informs us that the film ‘Death in Venice’ is amongst the top ten most famous movies to be filmed here in Venice. The new Spider Man movie is actually being filmed here right now.
We leave Gatwick in glorious sunshine and arrive in Venice in pouring rain. We hope it is not going to be like this for the next 10 days. We catch a water bus from the airport to the the appropriate stop five minutes walk from the apartment we have rented from friends. The water buses are great and a lot cheaper than the water taxis. We were told that the water bus trip from the airport to Venice takes about 40 minutes but is wonderful, especially in the late afternoon/early evening because you see Venice rising out of the mist in the light of the setting sun. All we see is mist and rain. When we arrive at our stop we don our rain gear, I put up the umbrella I bought back in the UK at a budget price, and venture out in the gale. My umbrella lasts about 30 seconds before it blows inside out and all the spokes bend and break!
We find our way to our apartment … and it is marvellous! We settle in, unpack, have a cup of tea and a rest, and then venture out to find a restaurant and dinner. The storm has abated, the rain has slackened off, and we make our way down narrow lanes and over umpteen small bridges over numerous canals to a Pizza Restaurant that Julia has made a note of in the meticulous planning of our holiday because it is a gluten free Pizza Restaurant. We pass several other really nice looking restaurants on the way but Julia has her heart set on a gluten free pizza and a glass or two red wine! We enter the restaurant, find a nice seat, we are made very welcome … but when we order a gluten free pizza for Julia we are told that this gluten free pizza restaurant doesn’t actually sell gluten free pizzas! We leave and go back to one of the restaurants we have already passed … and we share an excellent seafood risotto, and a glass or three of delightful red wine.
After a lovely evening we return to our apartment and enjoy a really good night’s sleep. It is amazingly quiet here, not because I have become even more deaf I realise but because there are no cars, or buses, or even motor bikes! We wake in the morning to glorious sunshine – the sunshine after the rain.