Thursday, May 1, 2008

In Venezia XIV

We started the day with a trip up the Canal Grande to admire the various palazzi. Constant bearing! Decreasing range! That means you are getting closer to another ship and on a collision course. My friend Bob Kohut used to regale our field crew with tales of life on an aircraft career during long drives to Michigan City, Indiana. Life on the water in Venezia is Constant bearing! Decreasing range! Come to think of it, life on the streets is Constant bearing! Decreasing range! In both cases, contact is rarely made.

On the water, engines reverse, oars are stroked, rudders are turned. In the calli, at the last moment, a shoulder is turned, a step is shortened, or it's increased. For all the people, there is little contact. Except on the vaporetto where people cram against people, no one wanting to wait a few minutes for the next boat.

The story of the ban on pigeon feeding continued today. The vendors once again lined their carts up near the entrance to San Marco piazza.

Civil disobedience was breaking out. People were sitting and eating where sitting and eating were forbidden. They were feeding pigeons bread. Some vendors turned a blind eye while tourists took grain from their carts. A few vendors let pigeons into their grain bins or scattered an odd handful of seed. None would accept money for the grain. Petitions were passed and signed. Police passed through the piazza and waved their hands at a few people feeding the ravenous and disoriented birds--birds who were assuming their usual poses, only to find empty tourist hands--but not bothering people who were sitting and eating in clear violation of the signs posted on trash cans.

Nancy and I spoke with M. (initials only to protect the innocent) and S. and told them what we'd read in the world press. Word among the vendors is that the "Animal Rights" people will be on the scene tomorrow to lend solidarity as they are concerned about the fate of pigeons forced to fend for themselves, left only to food tossed from Florian's where coffee is € 6 and a crumb is the primi piatti, or the bags from McDonald's and Burger King that overflow the trash.

Then we were off to the Armenian Monastery on San Lazzaro. It's quite the place and I learned a lot about the church and the collection of items and art that they have, but not much about being an Armenian monk on San Lazzaro. In fact, I'm not sure there is more than one monk there. However, the church is quite beautiful and, unlike many churches in Venezia where one is not permitted to take pictures, I could snap at will in this one.

A day spent riding boats provided a completely different perspective of the city--and my feet are happier for it.

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