As you may be aware from the photo’s appearing on here lately, not too long ago me and my girlfriend visited Italy. The plan was a pretty simple one, I was turning thirty years old and did not want to do that in the UK and not on a holiday and for the past year I’ve been taking evening classes in Italiano, so why not visit Italy? Jo had always wanted to visit Venezia and I’ve always wanted to visit Firenze, the two are pretty far apart (just get a map and take a look), however that wasn’t going to stop us. Through the magic of Air BnB, a huge recommendation I will give for anyone looking to travel on a budget, and the wonders of reasonably priced Tren Italia (yes that IS meant as a swipe at the awful train service and prices in the UK) we came up with an itinerary and at the end of July we set off.
I decided I was going to shoot a roll of film every single day of the trip and so over the next nine instalments I’ll be sharing the images I took and the story behind them. First up is the flight to the non existent airport, so called as when my Grandparents were talking to my Uncle about where we were flying to (Treviso as it was a cheaper flight and not too far away from Venezia), he was adamant that there is no airport in Treviso and that they must’ve misunderstood me. Not sure where he got that idea from as there most definitely is and it’s only a half hour bus ride to Venezia from there.
All images were taken on my Olympus OM-1 using either the F.Zuiko 50mm or Vivitar 28mm lenses, day one was shot on Agfa Vista 200 colour film.
Ok technically this first one isn’t even on the way to Italy let alone in the country, however when you load a roll of film you’ve got to take a test shot to make sure its wound on, right?
Jo seeming slightly more excited about the flight than I was, I’m not really a good flyer lets put it that way. I mean look at all the awful things that could happen on the back of the seat above, Someone might be wearing spectacles or stilettos during an emergency landing! The horror! A few things did amuse me on the flight however, firstly that there was a lot of excitable Italian kids, and secondly the fact that what little I could understand what the were saying was utter nonsense; “someone was constantly going to the bathroom” for example as well as the fair few “Mama Mia’s” when the flight got a little bumpy.
Got to admit, that’s a nice view. We landed mid afternoon and caught a bus from the airport in Treviso to Venezia, I got to speak Italian for the first time on the holiday and didn’t mess it up, although it’d probably be more difficult to mess up “I’d like two bus tickets for Venice please”.
We stayed with a lovely lady called Fiorella in her apartment in Mestre, which is on the mainland rather than in Venezia itself. Good points about this being; it was cheaper and only a 5 minute walk to the train station. Bad points being; well technically you are staying in someone’s house. Not that this mattered as Fiorella was lovely and welcoming and at no point made us feel like we were in her way, actually as she was a journalist and therefore worked strange hours she was very often not even there anyway.
After we’d unpacked a few things and been welcomed by Fiorella we decided to head into Venezia itself, it was only about 5pm at the time so there was still plenty of daylight to go for a wander. The train from Venezia Mestre to Venezia Santa Lucia takes all of 10 minutes and was around 2 Euros for a return, which is a bargain when you’re used to paying the farcical prices for a similar journey in the UK. As you can see Jo was again pretty bloody excited by the prospect of saving money and of actually getting to go into Venezia.
Leaving the train was a really weird experience as the train station just ends right next to the Grand Canal, you could literally jump out of the train and for a swim if you had a death wish. What it also means is that you literally step right into the heart of the city straight away, all the classic Venetian architecture and hustle and bustle of a fully pedestrianised city is right in front of you.
Apparently the population of Venezia doubles everyday from tourists visiting the city, as this was the end of July you can see exactly where that statistic comes from, busy doesn’t even explain the half of it.
You can easily see why Venezia is famous for it’s canals, you can not walk for more than 5 minutes without having to cross a bridge or, as we found out on a few occasions, turn around because you’ve reached a dead end that literally ends with water. I’d say I took perhaps a few too many photos of the canals but hey its Venezia, what else do people expect you to photograph?
After a good walkabout we decided we’d probably better eat, another reason I decided to learn Italiano was my love of the food, because lets be honest Italian Cuisine is clearly the best in the world. Fiorella had kindly made us a small list of recommended restaurants to help us out as in her own words “there are a lot of restaurants, but most of them are terrible”. We managed to find the first two on the list we were given, both closed for reservation, even more annoyingly one of them re-opened the day after we were due to leave. Instead we settled for a small place in a quiet square, unfortunately it turned out at first to be a bit too quiet as the waiter clearly forgot about us and took an utter age to take an order and even longer to bring our drinks. I could complain about this except for the fact that what was clearly the manager of the place started serving us instead, perhaps he’d sensed that we weren’t happy as after he brought us the drinks we never saw the original waiter again. The food was actually nearly worth the wait, pizza done right is one of the best things you can eat, and these were done right. And to top it off we were given free Limoncello by the manager at the end of the meal, I’m pretty sure tasted it and then ended up giving it to me. I will never say no to a Limoncello.
After dinner and with the light starting to fade was probably my favourite time in Venezia, and not only because the baking heat started to cool off a tiny bit. When the street lamps start to come on the place just looks much nicer, the canals especially. The picture below I really like as it shows exactly what Venezia was for me, busy, full of tourists but very pretty in minimal light.
After dinner we found a place to have a few drinks, it took us a while to work out why there were so few bars in Venezia, apparently the Venetians just drink in the street with their neighbours, I suppose it makes sense.
The final two images I took this day show exactly what I mean about the lighting in the night, the canal looks beautiful when lit up. Incidentally around 30 seconds after I took this photo Jo dropped the whole Gelato cone she’d just bought and left her mark on Venezia with a big melted mess down the steps of one of the bridges (it was still there the next morning).
Main things from day One were:
- I discovered my Italian is passable, although since I’ve been being taught by a Florentine my accent is quite different to the Venetian one.
- Despite not speaking any Italian Jo was mistaken for one when someone tried to ask her for directions.
- Venezia does not smell. That is a big one as I’ve heard a lot about how the canals smell terrible, I didn’t notice that at all.
- Venezia however is unbearably warm, I’m talking mid 30’s centigrade with no breeze due to the tall and tightly packed in buildings. Thank God for air conditioning and fans.
- We almost took a surprise night time trip to Udine after we sat for 10 mins on a delayed train, luckily when the announcer stated it was delayed a friendly local told us we could stay but the train wasn’t leaving for Udine for another hour. We didn’t want to go there at all let alone in an hour, so off we got.
- Other than that I can not fault Tren Italia already, I can’t reiterate how cheap they are!