At the recommendation of my new Venice sorella Vonda (a longer blog about her will be forthcoming), I got the Discovery Channel’s video Sunrise Earth. It features long, uninterrupted trips on our planet, my favorite, obviously, being Venice.
It starts in Cannaregio, with the sun barely rising. We float through all the canals where Stefano has taken me in his gondola so many times. Past where Forklift Danceworks performed their Gondola Project, a dance of gondolas in the Misericordia. Under the bridge where, if you look to the right, you’d see the house of Caterina Capretta, a young woman Casanova fell in love with, and then when her father found out, she was given 15 minutes to pack for the convent. Along the fondamenta where there used to be Paradiso Perduto, the best Venetian bar, where the wild-haired owner called out to the packed Carnevale crowd about tradition and music and love and then he played the violin like it was his girlfriend. Or past the former site of the Iguana, a terrible Mexican restaurant that we went to when we missed the enchiladas back home, and where the mojitos knocked us on our butts.
The only soundtrack is the natural one. My heart nearly broke when the bells of Santi Apostoli sounded. How many times I’ve laid in bed, jetlagged or too drunk to sleep or too lazy to get up or kept awake by old men singing opera in the restaurant downstairs, and then those bells toll. Last summer we had scores of swallows circling our apartment, and the swallows in this video brought me right back to that time, that place. Of course the pigeons, their cooing sounding like orgasm, icons of Venice. This video features very little text, though it lists the odd fact that pigeons peck the buildings and statues for the calcium, which they need for making eggs. Frickin pigeons.
The tour takes us by the Marco Polo house, now the Teatro Malibran, but they don’t mention that this theater used to be the Grisostomo, frequented by Casanova. He also had an apartment behind it, in the same building as a famous courtesan. But directly across from the Malibran is one of the best Casanova sites–the Palazzo Bragadin. C was given rooms here after he saved Senator Bragadin, who suffered a stroke one night and took the young man in as his son.
Then someone opened a shutter. I was watching the video alone, but I wanted to tell someone, “Did you hear that? Someone opened a shutter!” like it was some grand moment. How lovely it is to have one’s own shutters to open, to fit them into their metal clasps, to adjust them during the day when the sun changes position, to run to close them when the rain bursts from the clouds. I thought of the many shutters I’ve had–the tiny place with the crazy nonna who only spoke Venetian to me but brought me milk in the morning and ironed my dress. The shutters in San Polo that looked out onto a canal where gondolas floated by, where I heard the “Ooee!” of the gondoliers, where I saw a naked workman washing off in his boat at the end of his workday, where hail landed on the sill in a sudden storm. One of many Santi Apostoli apartments where I reached out past the shutters to hang the laundry on the line, looking up to smile at the white haired man across the alley and hoping that the workmen below weren’t checking out my underwear. Who would guess that shutters would be so evocative?
And the video takes time to look at the water, the patterns looking like something Hundertwasser would dream up. There’s no hurry. You can stare at the water for a long time. Or you can notice the way the rising sun hits the tops of some buildings, brightening the hues, and how that is reflected in the water.
Probably lots of people would think this a boring video. I know many of you who will be entranced.