Because we have nothing planned for today, until a baroque music concert tonight at the Chiesa (Church) San Vidal, we decided to begin our day outdoors by eating lunch at one of the many excellent restaurants in our Castello sestiere. We chose Trattoria Da Remigio, which is just a few steps from our apartment, and well known for both its “frittura mista,” mixed fried seafood and shellfish, and for its very reasonable prices, which keep it busy most of the time. When we walked over, we could see that every table was filled with happy lunch goers, except for one, a table for two right by the window that had just been cleared and reset. We happily entered and took the table that seemed to be waiting just for us.
Instead of the signature fried dish, we opted for a lighter alternative, the mixed grilled fish for two, which included filets of John Dory, sea bream, sole, and monkfish, all expertly grilled and served with lemon and olive oil. I had a vegetable soup, and Tali a mixed green salad, to go along with our main courses. The grilled fish we were served was of excellent quality, perfectly fresh, and very well prepared. It made for a delicious, light lunch, costing a little less than eighty euros including tip, that we capped off by having cappuccinos at our local bakery, just down the street from the restaurant.
We had planned to walk through San Polo and Santa Croce sestieres today, ending up at the San Vidal Church at concert time this evening, but the presence of Venezia carabinieri (police) at almost every bridge and intersection, who were there to direct the huge number of people making their way to and from the Piazza San Marco, alerted us to just how busy a day today was in Venice. This is the last weekend of the Carnevale, and today, we saw the same high level of street traffic that we saw last night in Canareggio sestiere, except that today, the crowds were everywhere!
Almost everyone wore at least a mask today, and there were many levels of costumes on display, from the very simple and homemade, like painted faces or a colorful item of clothing, to very elaborate Baroque period costumes, to guys who had made themselves up to look like robots – the variety was phenomenal! I noticed that those who had worn more elaborate costumes considered themselves worthy of being photographed – they would stop and pose whenever someone picked up his or her camera to shoot them – while those wearing something simple wouldn’t stop to be photographed, even if someone (like me) wanted to take their picture…it was like they couldn’t believe that anyone would want to photograph them. I wondered, do they feel that way all the time about themselves, or is it just today? Because, really, everyone is so very photo-worthy, all the time…it’s the human drama, in all its simplicity and complexity, and in all its blessedness, that makes everyone worth their own documentary, whatever they’re wearing!
Every bridge, every narrow alley, every street, all were packed with people, some so crowded that it was impossible to pass at all, and the police were directing people to take other streets instead. If today served as a glimpse of how crowded Venezia could be during the peak summer months, it might be best to visit here in the winter off-season alone. I tried to photograph some of the wonderful costumes I saw today, ranging from traditional Baroque period dresses to The Simpsons, but it was tough going at times, since it was hard to get anyone stop in the crowded streets, even for just a few seconds.
We finally resolved to go back to the apartment, rather than continue to be stuck in the human gridlock that was Venice today. After a break of a few hours, we headed back out to San Vidal, to hear “Interpreti Veneziani,” a group of about eight masterful string players, enthusiastically rip their way through short pieces by Vivaldi, Bach, and Purcell. I joked to Tali that this was actually a two hour concert, but the pieces were played at such breakneck speed, that they finished in just about an hour! It felt to me almost as if they were playing these pieces at such fast tempi in order to make it more challenging for themselves…to me, their intonation, their technique, and their ensemble playing seemed spot on, even at warp speed!
We started the walk back to our apartment after the concert, and soon it started to rain steadily, and it got a bit chillier as well. After a small snack and a glass of lightly sparking white wine (vino blanco frissante), we made it home, a bit damper, but still in good spirits.