As we strolled along the Strada Nuova a few mornings ago toward the station, we came upon a curious addition to the urban fabric: A very fancy sign at a very tricky spot warning people not to slip on the steps in four languages. First, the steps:
As you see, with each descending step the risk increases. You wouldn’t think a sign would be necessary to draw attention to that, but signs are always in short supply, and nearby merchants often volunteer to provide that missing piece. It’s not so much civic spirit as a desire to do something more with one’s day in the shop than answering the same lost-tourist questions over and over again.
A sterling example of the sort of done-it-myself sign at a crucial intersection; it reminds me of those signs you see depicted at military bases overseas that give the distance from there to everywhere. It does not give the direction to your home town, though, or to your hotel. Life is short, paper is even shorter. But the spirit was spot-on. In order from top: To San Marco, To Rialto, To Campo (indecipherable here), To Strada Nuova, To Campo Santa Maria Formosa, and blah blah. I can’t read the photo, I’ll have to go past there someday to review the contents. I’m sure this effort has broken at least 15 decrees and ordinances, but that’s nothing considering how many the Superintendency of Fine Arts, etc. overrides every day.
Back to the sign on the Strada Nuova. You can see that someone has gone to considerable trouble and expense on this one. It almost looks official.
Reminds me of those yellow plastic sandwich-board signs they put out when they’re mopping the airport floor. I wonder if anybody pays any attention to them?
This morning, Sunday, at about 10:00 AM, we walked by here again. There was no sign. I conclude that either it keeps hours that correspond to the sign-maker’s work schedule (they’d have to take it inside overnight, that much is obvious. So you’re free to slip to a spectacular fall in the evening.) Or the Superintendency was annoyed by it and sent a culture-policeman to remove it. If I wanted to pursue this any further, I’d have to go back and check on the fate of the taped-up sign, as well. But I don’t care that much.
Water you wouldn’t enjoy falling into this morning: Ice. Not covering all the canal surface, and it’s that fine, filmy sort that remains somewhat flexible. I’m sure the next passing motorboat busted it to bits. But it’s been below freezing here for three days, and is expected to continue for a while longer. This is, by the way, exactly the blast of frigid weather that brings the seppie to the surface and back into our lives (if the southwest wind is blowing, I must note). I have no idea why, but I’ll be watching for their appearance. Maybe they’ve heard that we’ve got hot chocolate at home.