Christmas Eve in Venice

Saturday 1492 – 24th Dec 2011 – Christmas Eve.

Here I am in Venice again visiting my daughter for Christmas. She goes home on the 28th Dec so this will be my last time. The immediate family is here – me, my daughter, her partner and my son.

The 3 of them took themselves off to Padua this morning to visit the Scrovegni chapel with its Giotto Frescos.  I decided not to go as I wanted to visit Cimitero -St Michele – the Cemetery Island just off the main Islands of Venice.  This is my 6th visit to Venice and I have never been…always intended to go but never quite made it and it has a curious fascination. The island is studded with Dark Cypress trees and the whole is surrounded by a high Terracotta wall and there are some famous foreigners buried there like Ezra pound and Sergei Diaghilev.

As well as individual and family graves there are many remembrance walls like the one below with name plaques and often photos; some are well looked after, others less so. The upper ones are reached by wheeled ladders reminiscent of those in old libraries.

This seemed like a good day to go as Christmas isn’t just about being with family or friends it’s also a time for remembering those family and friends who are no longer with us.  I am not at all religious and don’t believe in God but if I’m in a religious building I still find myself lighting a candle and thinking about those who are gone. This Christmas eve was no exception. In the little church on St Michele I lit candles and in particular thought of my late father Bert who died when I was 17, my brother Geoff who died aged 53,  my ex husband Sydney at 59, his father Jim in his 90’s and  my friend’s daughter Laura who died way too young in her early teens. 

I took a photo of the candles and here they are in remembrance of all those who are no longer here.

 

Later in the day my daughter, her partner and I decided we’d go to midnight Mass at Basilica San Marco in St Mark’s square ( well really my daughter decided ! ) – I had reservations because as I mentioned I’m not at all religious (neither are they) but this was sold to me as a once in a lifetime opportunity.  We arrived a little after 11 pm and my daughter had said it would all be over at 12… not so !

We tucked ourselves into a corner sitting on a stone seat against the outer wall . My daughter and her partner decided they’d like to go and stand nearer the middle so they could see more. I was happy to stay where I was and took a few photos before the service started, like the Ascension Dome pictured below with its 13th Century mosaics.

Shortly after they went a very old man came over to my corner and I offered him my seat as no-one else looked as though they were going to;  after all I’d only be standing until 12 !! Ha! Ha!

The service started and went on and on (and on !)  in Italian, of course, so I didn’t have a clue what was being said and could see very little of what was happening ( the choir and incense were good though!) At 12.40 a.m I decided I’d had enough ( I’m not great at standing as I have a bad ankle and I was frozen) and sent a text to my daughter’s partner to say I was going to catch a Vaporetto (water bus) back to the apartment. When I got to the Vaporetto stand I discovered there were going to be no boats! so text to say I was on my way back to the Basilica to wait for my daughter and her partner to come out.

 No reply!  I was tempted just to walk back but didn’t think it would be a great idea to walk halfway across Venice on my own at 1 a.m carrying some very expensive camera equipment.

They eventually emerged at 1.20 a.m, all delighted that they hadn’t been standing at all but had  been ushered to seats close to the altar and the centre of the action ! I was spitting feathers by this time  and confess I wasn’t the best of company on the 1/2hr or so walk home ! !  Ho Hum !

There’s no moral to this story – it’s just a fact of life that not everything goes according to plan ( in fact most things don’t! )

I’ll leave you with a photo of a large house on the Grand Canal all lit up for Christmas with a rather pretty moving snowflake scene.

 

Seasons Greetings to you all from the Saturday Girl.  ‘Til next week .. Ciao, Ciao.

P.s – You can see my other posts about Venice here Departures and Arrivals and here Acqua Alta ,Umbrellas and Wellies 

Acqua Alta, Umbrellas and Wellies….

I know it’s not Saturday but here’s an extra post ….

I have long wanted to experience the famous Venetian Acqua Alta; when the lowest parts of Venice are flooded and  I had my chance on Sunday 6th November. I had been checking out some Venetian websites before I arrived in the city to see if there was any chance to see it on this 5 day trip and it seemed as though there would be one the day after I arrived. ( and as it turned out on each day after)

You certainly know when one is expected because a very loud siren sounds throughout the city ( at 7 a.m on the days I was there !) warning the population, who duly put on their wellington boots and carry on as normal.

I’m told the men who take away Venice’s rubbish are also tasked with putting in place the temporary raised wooden walkways which are essential to keep the pedestrian traffic flowing freely through this gorgeous city..

After putting up the boardwalks the bin men  carried on with rubbish collection as normal or nearly as normal..

I had mixed feelings about the Acqua Alta because the flooding can be very serious for the people who live and work in the city, particularly when the water is very high. For tourists it is an extraordinary experience which brings out the childlike wonderment and sense of fun in many people, myself most definitely included.

Some people loved it

but others didn’t seem quite so sure.

and I had certainly never seen a canoe in the middle of St Mark’s Square before 🙂

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It seems everyone in Venice owns at least one pair of wellington boots and they can be quite a fashion item; coming in every imaginable colour and design. Thigh high waders are worn by some, others wear bright colours or jazzy patterns. Some are stylish with lace-ups or cut outs.

( Click on any of the photos on this page for a closer look.)

Which ones are your favourites? Do tell…

These are mine -a pair that are see through with rubber soles that fit over your own shoes for those who wouldn’t be seen dead in Wellies !! ( take a closer look)

Of course there were those who improvised…..

….but quickly found this wasn’t such a good idea

I loved the expression on his face as his plastic bags filled up with water.

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Venetians also carry umbrellas; some tiny and some so big you imagine the owner is intending to have a party underneath ! This phenomenon is new to me as I’ve previously only visited during spring and autumn months and never seen rain in Venice before, but of course it’s essential to carry an umbrella because Venetians have to walk so much to get to wherever they need to be.

Like the wellies the umbrellas came in many colours, some people looked elegant but others rather silly, especially those who had fallen victim to the hard sell and were carrying umbrellas with Venetian scenes on them. Ugh, soooo tacky. The pink one with sheep and the pink cow were definitely NOT my favourites !!

I found it quite funny to watch the opening of umbrellas en masse as, antlike, Venetians scurried across the boardwalk tutting if tourists stood still to take photos and blocked their way.

So much so that this girl got off the boardwalk to take her photos.

It’s not only the people who are kept dry, some owners cover up their dogs as well…poor things ! It just doesn’t look right to me !

This woman was evidently taking no chances and was well prepared to keep everything dry with colourful wellies, umbrella and a coat for her dog !!

Ah! Venice always full of surprises and just as lovely in the rain.

Saturday girl signing off for now… watch out for the 1498th episode, coming soon…Ciao, Ciao !!