Most things have to get from A to B by boat here, at least for part of the trip. Here somebody’s garden is being taken down the Grand Canal. A garden, or one heck of a lot of windowboxes. Or centerpieces. Or corsages.
It’s not as if I have nothing to say — I’m sure I have, somewhere — but the summer heat has hit (upper 90’s, F) with humidity to match, and my brain is otherwise occupied in keeping my vital functions going.
There remains one vital function I can manage on my own, and that is the devouring of ice cream. Happily, the newspaper publishes several articles each summer which not only state that ice cream is one of the best possible foods to consume in this heat, but that doctors confirm that it is NECESSARY to eat it, that it’s GOOD FOR YOU, that it’s PRACTICALLY A HEALTH FOOD. I don’t write these articles, but I could if asked to.
Just think, he could have been eating kohlrabi with kelp flakes, but he instinctively knew that ice cream was better for him. He’s obviously destined for a life of Ironman triathlons.
So here, having decided to avoid any brain-intensive topics, I am just going to give some of those glimpses of the sights (I spare you sounds) to be noticed when walking around the neighborhood. Just think, you’re also spared the temperature, which is just about the same inside as outside, except when inside is even hotter.
I’m going on vacation tomorrow, so will not be not making anything up for about six weeks. I intend to return totally bursting with wonders to relate, or at least bursting with the intention of doing so.
We all know that big cruise ships enter and leave Venice and that this bothers some people. But that’s not why I’m showing this picture. What interested me was the tugboat astern, which was directly behind the ship as it entered the lagoon. The ship is moving at the speed of a tired two-year-old, otherwise known as 6 knots maximum (6.9 mph/ 11 kmh, though this is a delicate calculation if the ship is going with the tide). In any case, at this point the ship needs to make a moderately sharp left turn to proceed up the Giudecca Canal, therefore the tug moves starboard and simply pulls the stern of the ship, turning it just enough to position the ship correctly for the home stretch.
Perhaps you can see the taut line connecting the two vessels. I wonder if knowing that there is a tug at the bow and another astern might influence the general public’s notion of how far out of control such a ship might conceivably go?
This maneuver is made in the wide space where www.veniceonline.it is printed. Just to give an idea of the geometry.
In the rio di Sant’Anna, there are stretches of cement slabs underwater, slightly tilted down toward the center of the canal. This was a simple means of reinforcing the wall at whatever time the city realized that reinforcement was needed. No problem there, so far, except that the cement makes it impossible to drive a piling into the mud next to the wall, a piling to which you might wish to tie your boat. So therefore…..
…the aforementioned pilings are driven in at a slant. Not a monumentally big deal, except that it means that the boats are floating more toward the center of the canal and less right along the wall. When the tide is low (which it is, twice a day) and sometimes very low (at certain periods in the year), the boats inch even further toward the center, which narrows the canal’s available space for traffic.
And speaking of fondamentas — which we sort of were — you may have seen low rectangular panels of some material (here it’s plastic) attached to the metal fence by a canal. And you may have wondered what they were for. They’re to prevent anybody who may be sweeping the street nearby (the trashman? just maybe? or some really efficient domestic worker) from sweeping the dust and detritus into the canal or — oops — into your boat. It has happened often enough that individual boat owners have Taken Precautions.
Here is another version, slightly further on. A couple of leftover laths work just as well. No more sweepage!
Toward sunset I discovered yet another wonder about the very same few feet of fondamenta: the Istrian stone paving its edge. Not only is it beautiful (it’s Istrian stone, after all), but why was it laid in this extraordinary manner? Did the city run out of perfectly rectangular blocks? (Answer: Sure, I guess.) This has instantly become one of my favorite things in the neighborhood.
The garbage collection organization will come and remove heavy, awkward objects if you phone and make an appointment. This usually means seeing things like refrigerators, old air conditioners, dead washing machines, outside the owner’s door with a sign attached saying when it’s forecast to be removed. Today I see that it’s collect-old-TVs-and-computers day just outside our door. That…that IS a computer, that little boxie-thingie in the middle?