Venice - A Dying Queen...

Hello everyone,

Sorry, I have been absent for quite some time. I have not followed all of your postings, nor have I spent much time behind the computer in general. I apologize for being so very negligent.

However, the reason for this is simple: I was on vacation. The title already betrays it. My ways had led me into the Italian Capital of Rennaissance: Venice.
But let me tell you my tale from the start.

We departed Vienna on a rainy Tuesday evening. Vienna had cooled down considerably and I was looking forward to get further south, hoping the sun was still shining there.
We flew in one of those tiny Dash Propeller Machines and the sight alone, watching this everspinning wheel lift us in the air actually lifted my spirts. I do like aircrafts a lot and working at the airport once was a pleasure for my travelling soul. Anyways … Let me return to Venezia.

On our approach, we broke through the cloud and so close to the city, that we even saw th Piazza San Marco from the aircraft. I was delighted, when finally for the first time in my life I picked the right side to sit at the window and the pilot drew another circle over the city, before slowly landing.

When we got off the aircraft, we had the absolute luck of warm temperature greeting us, although the moon was already brightly lighting the sky.
We picked our luggage from the belts and found the right “Waterbus” that would bring us across the sea, past the Lido towards the Gran Canale and the Piazza di San Marco.

Let me tell you, there is magic in approaching Venice on a full moon night, just a few minutes past midnight, the city sleeping and not a human soul around.
The old diva Venice presented itself to us in her most beautiful night gown and I think I fell in love with her that moment.

It took us about 40 minutes to find the hotel. We struggled with our luggage over small bridges, passing small rivers, canals, seeing a nightly Venice, the gently lit streets (a lot of the streetlamps were off already, as we were so late and only a few dimly yellow candles and lights were still lighting our paths)… It was a gorgeous walk, despite me being horribly worn out and tired!

Those moments though I enjoyed with my heart and soul – not with my camera. In such, I have no pictures to show you from this first night, apart from the tale I tell.

We reached our hotel “La Fenice” – a wonderful little hotel completely in rennaissance style. A small palace, a cute restaurant and beautifully decorated rooms. Great Bathroom, too!

Well, I was very glad to find my bed, crash down and fall asleep instantly. We (one of my closest friends James and I) slept until 9 the next morning, slowly got to breakfast and started the day very, very comfortably. I unpacked my suitcase and distributed my clothes into the neat, old highly decorated cupboards. I have to admit, I felt like a little princess :D

It was nearly noon by the time we finally braved Venice. The heat crashed down on us like a hammer on an anvil. The crowd’s noise waved over us, rendering us deaf for a few moments, the motorboats around us made me stare speechlessly at the place I ended up at. Was that still the same place, I just arrived at the night before?
Was that still that beautiful Venice I couldn’t wait to explore?
James still spoke highly of it and told me what he wanted me to see, and pointed many things out what we had to do. It took me a moment to regain my composure to follow him out into the busy street.

It took us ages to reach th ePiazza di San Marco… and when we finally reached it, we couldn’t even see it. So many people! I was about to turn away disappointedly, when I saw a little girl, maybe 6 years old, pigeons all around her and she was gargling with happiness as one actually sat on her hand, and another on her shoulder. She screeched with delight, when suddenly her bigger sister ran up and the pigeons would soar off in a loud flapping of winds. For a moment, the crowds were blocked out and it was just me, the two girls, the birds – and the wind.

Slowly we moved on. Past the Rialto, into small side streets, getting ourselves lost – finding ourselves in a small covered square. My eye fell onto a dress. It stood there on a puppet. A wide skirt, corsage, bright blue with green ribbons. A small sign over it “handmade, please no photos”. Not the usual signs you find “Do not Touch”. Just “no photos”. I love dresses. I drew closer. I peered into the door hidden behind the dress.

“Come in, come in, the dresses don’t bite!” we suddenly heard a voice. Curiously, we drew closer and stepped a few steps into the only dimly lit room. The things that were under brighter lighting were dresses, costumes, masks, wigs, gloves, hats, plumes… Everything in the colourful style of the Rennaissance period.

My eyes watered. The whole store was gorgeous! Inmidst we found a woman – slightly smaller than myself, grinning at us happily and before we knew it, she told us all about her dresses. I could see, she loves every single bead in them, every single inch of fabric. Everything glides through her hands with a loving gentleness, a caress for each piece of work. The whole lady seemed to radiate joy and pride. I liked her instantly!
She introduced herself as Flavia. She has been sewing costumes for the Venice Carneval for 35 years. Each and every piece she works on is unique. She never uses the same fabric for two dresses.

After we had already spoken for over an hour she suddenly said (me having no intention to buy anything, because I just don’t have those funds!) “I don’t have much your size, normally my customers are bigger than you are – sizes 40 – 44 and such, but I have one left from my last collection. Come and try it!”

Only moments later I found myself in a dress with a name “Nerina” – the little black one!
My gosh.. The fabric, the skirt, the top, the sleeves, the bag – a suiting mask. I was stunned. Wearing it, I felt not like a little princess anymore. I felt like a queen.
Even Flavia grinned and she said “Well, it’s from my last collection and another girl rented it before you are wearing it.” I failed trying to convince myself NOT to buy it… James actually turned me over the second he said “You look great in it – as if the dress had just been made for you, waiting here! We’ll pay fifty – fifty!” … And so we did…
I am now the proud owner of an original Venice Carneval Costume!

Still on an absolute high, we went back to carry Nerina into my closet. The crowds didn’t bug me in the slightest, the noise was music and the yelling kids were rhythm. Dearest, what did I do… I just hope with all my heart, I will have more than just 1 opportunity / year to wear it, and I hope even more, that it still will fit me in a couple of years!

We then went for dinner and afterwards into the hotel with the plan to get up the next morning, early enough to avoid most of the crowds – we failed. Again, we left the hotel around 10 am, braved the crowds, but then found our way into quarters further away from the tourist centers. Late morning found us back at Flavia’s Gallery. And hear, hear, I found a great mask going with the dress, and James picked himself a Costume, forming the perfect male counterpart ;c) …

Flavia suggested to watch the Sunrise over Piazza di San Marco. Morning at 5 am not a single soul is there, and the whole piazza would shine beautifully, she promised. The idea started to ripen to take the costume and actually take pictures of and in it around some empty Venecian palazzos, the Piazza, Rialto, etc.
Again we spent hours with her, went out to eat with her and returned to the hotel early in the evening.
We went to bed early and the next morning we put our plan halfway into action. It was too cold for the costume – the cold front we had had in Vienna the week before having reached Venice.
We got up none-the-less and we did see the sunrise over the Piazza. The city presented itself in her most gorgeous morning dress. We walked the whole morning through the quarters – North of Rialto, Down the waterfront, sidealong Canals and rivers, returning to the hotel just once briefly for breakfast and then only again in the afternoon. We concluded our vacation in the very same rhythm. Rising with the sun, enjoying the quiet city, and when the crowds came, we went elsewhere, avoiding the other tourists.

We managed to see a Venice as it truly is: Venice. The city, that once housed over 250000 Venecian people today only is home to 50000 and millions of tourists.
Venice itself shows in all its prunk and colour, and yet, the windows are closed, the shutters shunning everything out that’s outside, closing in, what’s inside.
The paint is peeling from the wooden planks, the walls are porouse. Venice slowly loses its glamour. The bigger palazzos hold 4 – 5 star hotels, Prada, Gucci, Luis Vuitton. It almost seems as if someone tried to put Make-Up on a dying lady, to give her a last time the feeling of being beautiful and in fact, just creating an image, that does add a sweet bitter feeling of pity to the still deeply rooting admiration.

Once, the most powerful Adriatic City, the holder of fleets and markets, the center point of trade, Art and money is dying, keeping itself up, living only through millions and millions of tourists, like parasites being the only things left, that brings movement into a dead body. And yet, you can still see its old beauty.
Don’t get me wrong: Venice is a wonderful place. Beautiful and so rich in history. But as much as I adore it, as I fell in love with it, I also feel deep pity for it. How long will it still last, this fading picture of the past?

One more thing, I would like to tell you about Venice. Just because I never was there and thought, I’ll have to add it, we went the Lido.
And I have never in my whole life seen such a thing! The whole beach is just: Shells, Mussles, Snails, forms and jewels of the sea in such vast amounts, one just needed to reach down and take a handful and would hold tens of shells in all forms and sizes.
A paradise for a lover of the small things.
The perfect place to find material for mosaiks, shell pictures, sand castles.
We were lucky, it was cold and windy. Not many people were at the beach and in such I was able to enjoy it more than if it had been crowded :)

I left Venice on Sunday morning with a laughing and a crying eye and the promise to be back. One day…
She’ll always be in my heart – the dying queen…

For those who are interested, please find Flavia’s Dresses online here:

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