The Awful Truth: Venice Traffic and Weather Together
“Coming to you live from our Venice traffic chopper, “The Awful Truth” is delighted to bring you our irregularly scheduled Venice traffic & weather together almost every half-hour on the :23 and the :57! Your hosts, Roberto, in the air, and Clara ,on the ground, help you to mentally prepare for your commute by telling it like it is!”
“Bonjourno signori signori! Well, it looks like it’s gonna be another scorcher down there with temperatures climbing into the mid-40’s (That's HOT people!) and humidity around 73% with a 50% chance of thunderstorms. Lets check in with our reporter on the ground to see how things are going down there… Clara? Clara?! Are you there?”
“Eh…catzo…niente funziona in Italia!!...CLARA?”
“CIAO Roberto!…just a little problem with my walkie-talkie…probably the signal was rerouted by some tour-guide umbrellas…”
“No problem! How’s it going down there? Is anyone getting ready for the rain?”
“It’s hard to say Roberto…we have forecast thunderstorms for the last fifteen days in a row..but…well…nothing! But don’t worry! The city has an army of 200 guys with carts full of 15 E umbrellas who can be ready to go without a moments notice!”
“Are those the ones where the fabric comes off the spokes the second time you open and close it Clara?”
“Yes! Those are the ones!”
“Well it’s great that we have something! Meanwhile, how’s the traffic down there? Is the heat keeping anyone off the streets?”
“I would love to tell you Roberto, but I have been trapped on the Ponte Del Vin for the last few minutes…”
“And about how many minutes would you estimate that you’ve been there Clara?”
“Well Roberto, this is Venice, so I am going to have to say 9-14!”
“I can see a relatively heavy concentration of baseball caps and tank tops down there Clara. What’s causing the delay?”
“As you can guess Roberto, to my right is a group of about fifty people with about ninety cameras who have stopped to take pictures of the beautiful “bridge of sighs”, nothing unusual in that…but on my left we have about 200 (…what language is that?) maybe Eastern European tourists who seem to have followed the wrong guide umbrella since San Zaccaria and have congregated on the bridge to determine what to do. A South American is trying to give them directions. Anyway, your view is better than mine Roberto…so what is going on down here?”
“…(ehh they’ve got to do something about those unauthorized tours…) THANK YOU FOR ASKING Clara! We can see that: We’ve got some wheeling luggage blocking things up a little bit on the Ponte Scalzi and Fondamenta Scalzi where perhaps 2 thousand people just off the trains have stopped to have a look at their maps and call their hotels. A fish cart collided with that of a schotsky vendor on the Ruga D’ Orefici…It’s hard to see through the fighting seagulls, but it looks like the vendor has decided to leave his scattered goods to the mob. It’s the last market day of the week, so we have about five thousand shoppers and tourists converging on the Campo di Rialto by traghetto, bridge and vaporetto. …17-23 minute delays in the Campo Santa Sofia, Campo San Polo, down the Strada Nova, and a slightly heavier concentration in and around Campo San Bartolemeo…If you are heading towards that area, be on the look out for shopping carts, zoom-lenses, back packs, wheeling luggage, strollers, broken glass and hungry birds!”
“Anything going on in the back streets Roberto?”
“Behind San Marco we’re seeing the usual 20,000 or so lost. There’s a small squabble on the Calle Dei Fabbri where five tourists with gelato have rear-ended some world-heritage volunteers on their way to a conference and another group of tourists seem to be trying to photograph the mess. ....Traffic is at a dead standstill near the Church of San Zulian where a shop-keeper has displayed a giant bust of Casanova that appears to be quite popular. Wait…can we zoom in a little closer here? CLARA! It looks like a woman in the apartment above may be turning a hose (or is that the shower nozzle?) on the crowd!”
“Is the crowd dispersing Roberto?”
“Actually Clara…it’s growing!”
“Everything is beautiful in Venice Roberto! I’m moving a little bit now…just made it into S. Marco where things are looking…well, pretty promising actually! I’d say there are only about 1500 in line for the church and another 1500 for the Dodges Palace. Great day to come, if you can get here!”
“THANK YOU CLARA! This has been Roberto and Clara bringing you “The Awful Truth!” your one and only source for Venice traffic and weather together! Stay tuned to this station and be patient because we probably won’t be back on time, but we will be back!”
A Lifetime is Not Enough
I have an ongoing internal debate about whether or not I aught to write things like “The Awful Truth.” My roommate, who is a historian of Venetian art, and I discuss this frequently. We are both torn between the two conflicting ideas of wanting to tell the truth vs. wanting everyone to love Venice.
But, if a city is a like a lover, then I suppose this means that one needs to both recognize and accept the bad; The bad often accentuating one’s experience of the good. Most of us are flawed and we love others not only in spite of their flaws, but partially as a result of them.
So, the awful truth is that everything you’ve heard is, in fact, true: Venice is crowded, it is loud, it is hot, it does smell, and there are a lot of bugs. On the flip-side, it is beautiful, mysterious, historic and erotic. It will throw you from misery to elation and show you everything from sheer elegance to pure debauchery. It is, in fact, a gargantuan feast for your senses and your intellect and a place that one can explore and examine for eternity but will offer surprises forever. That must be why it is so damned crowded!
What better than the crowds of San Marco to make one appreciate the peace of S. Elena or San Pietro di Castello? And how much better do the breezes from the Adriatic feel as a result of the heat? Yes, some of the back calles smell like shit. But, S. Elena smells like grass, the Lido smells like the sea, and the Mercato smells like greens and fruit much fresher than those you can get at home. And, while I honestly wanted to kill the guy who felt the urge to sing opera outside our windows at 6:30 this Sunday morning (the lady in the apartment next-door got to him first…), if there is something in the air here that makes everyone want to sing…well…that’s probably a good thing.
So, I share things like “The Awful Truth,” because I do want everyone to love Venice and I know that you couldn’t if you arrived with stars in your eyes and roses up your nose only to be assailed by the awful truth.
(Sadly, I have nothing nice to say about the bugs. If you are going to visit a still-living, old city, that happens to be in the sea, then you are going to have to put up with some bugs. But the truth is that I hate them almost as much as I hate giant Casanova.)
For first time visitors, I know it can sometimes feel as though the whole city is teasing you. The best defense? Laugh along with it!