My impressions of a place that I’ve visited so much in the past but not for thirty years? Still amazing and beautiful, still slightly tawdry and timeless. Still exhaustingly winding and surprising. Subtly changed too, though. Chinese and Indian faces in restaurants and shops where once there were only Italian. Boatloads of Japanese tourists snapping shots on bridges so you can barely get past. Russians appearing at the airport and on vaporetti but invisible elsewhere. The waters of the lagoon lapping higher than they used to and duckboards stacked everywhere ready for the floods that rise not only over canalsides but also out of the storm drains beneath the streets.
But Venice never was entirely Italy. It always sold tourist tat and expensive, slightly sub-standard, leather goods. So we also went to Padua for a day so that I could show the Girl the busy, lively pace of normal Italian life.
Now I’m home in the snow, left with a headful of Italian words and phrases as I spontaneously remember and regurgitate the language dormant for so long. I’ve so much enjoyed speaking it again in the last few days. Family holidays, first kisses, old friends, student trips – all has come back and been joined by this sojourn with my own child. It is all about time.
Postscript: There are a million photographs of Venice out there. We didn’t need any more, but who could resist adding to that number? Certainly not I, even when that meant buying a Panasonic DMC-FS45 point-and-shoot at the airport when I found I’d left my camera bag in the car. The assistant at Dixon’s had to double check that the £65 price that came up when she scanned the bar code at the till was correct – maybe there’s a newer model coming out – so it didn’t break the bank, particularly since I was already in ‘holiday mode’. Of course, it was a shame not to have my cameras, particularly because I had really wanted to play with my newish Lumix LX-5 compact and have my trusty DSLR to hand as it’s the only camera I can really use properly. But I loved the grainy quality of the pictures this tiny new zoom-lensed thing could take in very low light with its Leica-specified (but not made) lens. I hate using flash. It also takes icily sharp shots but I’ll leave that kind of thing to professionals to demonstrate.
This isn’t about the camera, this is about how I saw Venice.