It’s been a long time since I posted a piece in this occasional series, where I dip into my journals from past trips to Venice. While waiting in the airport to fly back to Venice this summer, I read through my journal from 1996–the first time I went to Venice! My very first trip was over spring break with students, and then I returned in the summer for two weeks by myself. This entry and the ones that follow are excerpts from that summer. I’m keeping my spelling errors as is (they crack me up!), but I’ve changed some names for the sake of friends’ privacy.
August 3, 1996
Arrived yesterday in Venice with no baggage thanks to Alitalia. Washed my hair with bar soap this morning. I’ve found a wonderful spot right now on the Grand Canal. Not too many people, shade, and a glorious breeze that billows my skirt. The humidity here leaves me permanently sticky, so this wind is the best feeling yet.
My room [at Hotel Bernardi] is like a little monastery cell with a curtain. It seems like it’s below ground level because it has a thick outside wall and a very deep, high set window with bars on it. It’s actually on the ground floor, though, and despite the thick wall, every noise comes directly in. I went to bed early but was woken periodically by noise of Friday night merry-makers. A group of drunken men were singing opera [at Ai Promessi Sposi restaurant across the way] till the wee hours. One guy led while the others joined in. Whenever the lead reached his strongest notes, his dog would yowl along with him until the men broke into laughter. I drifted in and out of sleep listening to this.
I met a little black and white cat on my street, Calle d’Oca. I clucked my tongue and he waited for me to catch up to pet him. In the morning when I went out I noticed him just in time to see him throw up a hairball.
I’m listening to my new Puccini tape on the walkman right now. It makes me feel like life here has a soundtrack. After a while I forget I’m even wearing the headphones. I’ve no one to talk to anyway, except the postcard salesman who tried to pick up on me. He was cute, too, and stood too close on a warm day. I think I might just keep listening to Puccini for the whole two weeks I’m here.