When it rains in Venice
Tail end of summer. Kids back at school. Smaller crowds visiting Venice to see the sights. Shorter queues for rides in gondolas. But what happens in the rain?
I had left my hotel in Campalto, grabbed a quick breakfast in the bar across the road, and caught the 8.20 bus to Piazzale Roma. It was already raining so my hope was that the precipitation would clear and give me a nice day.
A trip to see the islands of Murano and Burano had been pre-booked well before I reached Europe. All I needed to do was to find the yellow desk near the Bridge of Sighs to check-in. I had to be there by 10:40 for the 11:00 departure according to the print-out in my pocket.
I walked through the lanes and wove my way through to Piazza San Marco. The rain was heavier by now so I bought a hat and a scarf as it was considerably cooler than the previous day.
I had plenty of time on my hands so used that to have a (very nice) coffee, to try the definitely-not-authentic Sicilian cannoli (not nice), and to take photos of an empty St Mark's Square.
I don't normally like walking in the rain, but at least I was dressed for it. I noted with amusement that a lot of the tour groups were donned in disposable plastic capes and boots. Whatever floats your boat, as the saying goes, and in this weather there was no danger of boats not floating!
The downside of this rainy weather, at least for the cafe's and restaurants, was that there were few clients to serve.
Just behind St Mark's Square is the Bacino Orseolo, which sits under the gaze of the Hotel Cavalletto. The basin was full of empty covered gondolas taking a break from the usual 80/100 Euro punting tours. No doubt the gondoliers were frustrated by the impact the rain was having on their custom.
I eventally got to the Bridge of Sighs where some tourists didnt even seem to slow down for the view as they crossed Ponte della Paglia, the pedestrian bridge, in front of it. A lot of sighing going on - sighs of frustration and disappointment I imagine.
The gondolas moored at the entrance to Rio Canonico Palazzo, which passes under the Bridge of Sighs and between the Ducal Palace and the New Prison, remained at their moorings. Tourists passed directly in front, not even thinking about taking a tour, while the gondolas themeselves bobbed up and down as the waves of the choppy Venice Basin transferred their energy to the otherwise stationary vessels.
At the side of the Ponte della Pagia, under arches of the Palazzo delle Prigioni, its possible to see gondolas passing between the Prison building and the Doge's palace. While I was there I did in fact get to see some brave souls, and brave gondoliers, taking the time to do a gondola tour. When one has spent money and time to visit such a place, with perhaps definite plans to take a romantic boat tour, it's necessary to make that decision in spite of the weather.
Well, for me the weather wasn't an issue. I have visited Venice on many occasions and know the place well. My parents used to live in Porto Santa Margherita, up the coast from Venice, and my grandfather was a Venetian. This was, though, the first time I had been there in wet weather so at least I was able to collect a portfolio of wet-weather images for a change.
So, when it rains in Venice it has a bit of an effect on tourism. Gondolas don't get used so much but many gondoliers do get some trade. Shoppers still venture out, causing a tangle of umbrellas in the narrow lanes, and workmen still do their daily chores of keeping the island's alleys and canals clean.
At 11:00 a.m. I boarded the tour boat headed for Murano and Burano. The boat left 10 minutes late since another boat spent extra time unloading passengers. The Murano and Burano trip was good. But that's another story.