02.07.18 Lesley Upham

A Coachmaker in the city of canals

For the past eight weeks I have been on an extended visit to Venice, writes Assistant Lesley Upham. This trip has been many years in the planning as my husband Rod and I have explored the various sestieri (districts) to decide where we would like to base ourselves.

We wanted to be away from the tourist hotspots – yes believe me you can achieve this even in Venice. It was important to be near a vaporetti (water bus) stop and to find an apartment which would suit us and the visitors which inevitably followed once we had made our plans known. In the end we settled on the Campo San Giacomo dell’ Orio in Santa Croce – a mix of local families, restaurants and the co-op.

Having been time poor for so long, now we have retired it has been great to learn to slow down and to “stand and stare”. People-watching is fascinating, especially when accompanied by a cold sparkling glass of Aperol, the Venetian drink of choice and Cicchetti, the little rolls and snacks available in most bars.

Like all major cities Venice can be pricy, but do your research before you go and the city opens up. Our €12 Chorus card has gained us entry to an unlimited number of magnificent churches with art by Titian, Tiepolo, Veronese to name a few. Our Unica card has drastically reduced the price of the vaporetti and we have attended numerous free concerts in churches and museums. Venice Art Night, which is held every June, saw most of the city’s galleries and museums open free of charge. Among others we went to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, which provided challenging art and great views of the Grand Canal.

Obviously for a stay of eight weeks we have not eaten out every night. This has not been a problem because the quality and variety of food on offer in the markets is amazing. We love fish, although I must admit some of the species on offer do look a bit daunting, especially as one or two are still on the move! The fish merchants are very helpful, with one even explaining in English how I should cook my purchase.

The only wheels I have seen have been on shopping trollies and delivery cages, carrying and containing all manner of goods. Although on a visit to the Lido this little number did catch my eye.

As we come to the end of our Venetian adventure, I can see why tourists might get a bad press with the locals, as they pause to photograph every elegantly decaying palazzo. I even found myself tutting last week as I had to pick my way through a family sat on a busy bridge eating pizza!  However, most of the Venetians we have met have been welcoming and patient, even with my faltering Italian, and we will miss our morning cappuccino at our local osteria – the barman had our order started as we walked through the door.