Yesterday afternoon I left home near Bragora with the ambitious idea of walking the length of La Giudecca before attending a concert at Serra Dei Giardini and then crossing town to attend another concert at Movie Bistro in San Marco. If all had gone as planned, this wouldn't be too unreasonable. I could have taken a vaporetto to the far end of La Giudecca, walked, taken another vaporetto back to Castello, then walked to San Marco. But, this is Venice. That is not what happened at all!
The first ticket machine couldn't give change. The man behind the ticket counter closed up shop, an hour early, right in front of my smiling face. I went and got change. But, the coin drop on the second ticket machine was blocked. I decided to walk to the Zatere and take a walk there. (Yes, in Venice, one walks to the places where one plans to take a walk.) But, no sooner had I turned in that direction than a million or so students came streaming towards me. I turned a corner to keep up momentum and found myself back on Salizada dei Greci, no further than fifty yards from home. Accepting that I had been thwarted, I drank a spritz at Pasticceria Pierino and pondered the existence of God. (There is definitely a touch of divinity in the home made bread sticks that they serve with drinks...) Then, powered by a few ounces of Campari, I decided that, if there were a God, it must have been telling me to just go to Serra. But, this is Venice. That's not what happened at all!
No sooner had I crossed one bridge than I met a group of travelers desperately seeking Celestia. It's a rare request deserving of attention! So, I walked them 90% of the way there, past the point of possibly getting lost, then turned off to head towards Giardini. But, for reasons I'll never understand considering the hundreds of times I've walked that same route, I took a wrong turn in Campo Do Pozzi and ultimately took myself to Celestia!
There was nothing left to do but have a good laugh at myself, and stop fighting Venezia. Clearly, I was destined to stay "home". I ambled back towards Bragora and happened upon A La Scuela where "Frito Misto" was playing a mixture of folk music and classic rock and all the neighbors, and most of their pets, were enjoying 1 euro ombri of the house wine and dancing in the street. There were all of four other out-of-towners there, all also present due to the conspiracy of circumstances, but we were all swept into the merriment as though we also had lived next door for years. I watched as my new friends forgot about asking for directions back to San Marco and fell in love with Venice in way they may never have done had they been where they intended to go. And yes, over a few ombri, a few songs and conversations with a few strangers, I also fell back in love with Venezia.
I'd like to pretend to be sorry that I missed out on each of the events that I promised to attend that night, but I'm pretty sure that the conspiracy of circumstances lead me to the best possible evening I could have had. I wouldn't trade those few hours at A La Scuela for all the Carpaccio at Cipriani. I am however still waiting for A La Scuela to serve up their locally famous spleen cicchetti... eh hem!
If you'd like to visit A La Scuela, and circumstances have not conspired to take you there by accident, it is also possible to go there on purpose. A La Scuela has been added to the Castello Bars section of OG Venice Travel Guide.