The “Into Each Life” Bit

From the Bridge of (heavy...) Sighs.

From the Bridge of (heavy…) Sighs.

So Mr. Longfellow pretty much called it – we all get rained on now and then.  And when bad weather happens on a sightseeing trip, it can actually add to the atmosphere of a place.  It can heighten the romance.  Or deepen the drama.  Or – who am I kidding?  It can also be a total irritation.  Like when I had just one shot to share the charm of Venice, Italy with the folks – and precipitation tried to claim the day.

I’ll say yet again how crazy lucky I’ve been that my parents invited me on several cruises – the first being around the Mediterranean and finishing up in the remarkable floating city of Venice.  Unbeknownst to Mum and Dad, I’d booked them a gondola ride, figuring the day was sure to be the highlight of their journey!

But first things first – the rest of the cruise turned out to be just as wonderful as I’d imagined!  We enjoyed exotic and historic ports, fine dining, a lovely room with a veranda, fine dining, friendly people – and, of course, fine dining.  As quality time goes, it was the absolute quality-est!

Not a day for shuffleboard.

Pretty – but perhaps not a day for shuffleboard.

As it was October though, we did have to expect some less-than-ideal weather – and our first taste was a choppy one on a day our ship was entirely at sea.  In the middle of hectic touring, the folks were fine with a down day of pleasant – if buffeted – relaxation (that would be “buffeted” both in the three-syllable sense of being tossed about as well as the two-syllable one of indulging in sumptuous spreads of food).  Dad could catch up on his logging of our adventures while Mum decided to pay a visit to the hair salon.  And me?  Well, as someone whose passion for ocean travel exceeds her constitution for it, I had to see if I’d packed a dinner outfit to match the shade of sea-sick green my face had become…

But I did manage to escort Mum to her hair appointment.  Many passengers had canceled on account of their delicate constitutions – but she had no problem at all!  Nor did the cheery stylist who must have had plenty of experience plying his trade on listing ships.  When the motion of the ocean forced him a few steps back from Mum’s chair, he’d simply wait, dryer and brush poised in his hands until he was propelled back within reach of his client.

But fine weather for a shampoo and blow dry!

Fine weather though for a shampoo and blow dry!

The other blustery day was not so welcomed.  It was the one day of our stop at the enchanting, improbable and incomparable city of Venice – our final port of call.  As we glided up through wind and rain to what many told us they’d anticipated more than any other stop on our voyage, the city appeared not so much to be majestically floating as desperately treading water.  Not terribly inviting…

Venice in the rain.

Venice in the rain.

But for us, waiting for better weather was not an option.  We could either don our boots and strike out into the intermittent storm, or stay on the ship and strike out altogether.  So – boots it was.

The Doge's Palace.

The Doge’s Palace.

The first stop on our prearranged tour was the magnificent Doge’s Palace.  After taking in the ornate (albeit slightly soggy) courtyard, we turned our umbrellas back the right side out and made our way up the Golden Staircase – probably the most splendid set of steps on which my feet had ever sloshed – er…trod.

Golden Staircase.

Golden Staircase.

After wandering a series of opulently decorated rooms, we traced the solemn steps over the Bridge of Sighs that convicted Venetians had to take from being sentenced in the Palace straight over to the adjoining prison without another breath of free air.  This was one spot where the gloomy weather worked.

I preferred to conjure up memories of the sweet film, A Little Romance (1979) where Laurence Olivier captures the imagination of a very young Diane Lane by recounting a legend which promises that couples who kiss under the Bridge of Sighs at sunset will love each other forever.  Ours was more of a day for A Little Robitussin – but what can you do..?

The Bridge of Sighs.

The Bridge of Sighs.

At this point, our guide announced that the tour would normally be continuing over to the Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square) to tour the church of St. Mark – but not today because it was totally flooded so okay thanks ciao.

Just like that, the folks and I were on our own.

We decided to make our way over to the Piazza anyhow which we found was completely under water and stitched up with temporary platforms for getting around a couple feet above.  But with all the crowds moving along these slick and skinny planks, the scene looked more like a log rolling flash mob than a safe place to traverse.

"Strolling" the Piazza.

“Strolling” the Piazza.

As I scanned the dismal sight, my heart was sinking just like the city itself seemed to be.  On other days, the Piazza would have been alive with citizens enjoying a meal or drink outdoors, tourists feeding the plethora of pigeons, and others just staring in breathless awe (the people, not the pigeons) at the amazing result of man’s audacity in erecting a towering city on the water.

On a brighter day, I’d have stood in the shade of the Campanile as I did beneath its UC Berkeley namesake in my college days – but no sunshine broke through to cast any sentimental shadows.  And on the day I’d spent months imagining for the folks and me, I’d have waved and taken tons of pictures as they sailed off on their surprise gondola trip.  But all the rides were canceled.

The Campanile.

The Campanile.

At times like this when I’d built a thing up in my head so awfully much, I felt certain that clouds didn’t have any silver linings – just slimy, soppy ones.

Piazza in the rain.

Piazza in the rain.

But pretty soon I recognized that, like with the listing of the ship, I’d teetered away from a healthier perspective and needed to totter back to a more reasonable and even keel.  I mean, hey, look at the plus column:  we’d ended up with time for a delightful lunch in a local cafe; there hadn’t been a single pigeon (they creep the heck out of me…); and I had the perfect excuse for one in the unending series of bad hair days that is my life.  Also, it was clear that Mum and Dad weren’t as saddened by the loss of the gondola experience as by my sadness over the whole affair.  They agreed, of course, that kissing under the Bridge of Sighs would have been wonderfully romantic insurance for a lifetime of “amore” – but having already loved each other deeply for more than fifty years, they knew at the end of the day there really was no need.

At the end of our day, I really was stunned to find that a jewel like Venice was mounted in quite so precarious a setting.  And in an earlier rush to place blame for our poor touring fortunes, I’d complained mightily that more wasn’t being done to hold back a sea that seemed quite willing to reclaim the city – Golden Staircase and all.  While the world is dotted with the edificial efforts of ages past that have fallen into ruin, I wanted a kinder fate for Venice.

I’m grateful I got to see Venice even in rather waterlogged glory, and I’d love to think it will endure not as a testament to human audacity, but as a benediction for those who plan with hope and act with faith – and who keep some big, big sandbags handy just in case.

At the close of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the Clown sings kind of a melancholy tune about how all the ups and downs of his life have been attended by rain – indeed, that “it raineth every day.”  At least in Mr. Longfellow’s view (in “The Rainy Day”), only some days are “dark and dreary.”  However much rain is in the forecast, we might curse it when it descends, or get in out of it, or hold our faces up to it – or maybe do a little of each.  But we might as well find a way to embrace it.  And having the good fortune to do that in Venice?  Well, there’s embracing of the quality-est kind!

Beautiful whatever the weather!

Beautiful whatever the weather!

BONUS MATERIAL

I was inspired to steal borrow from Shakespeare in a recent post – this time, the Clown’s song put me in the mood to add a few verses of my own:

One day found I, myself in Venice

With hey, ho, in wind and in rain:

Nary a day for golf or tennis,

For the rain it raineth every day.

 

To curse such luck and ne’er rejoice?

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain:

Mayhap in this I have some choice,

For the rain it raineth every day.

 

Why, here’s the palace of the Doge’s,

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain:

What matters weather so atrocious?

For the rain it raineth every day.

 

Not so some cruelly shortened shrift,

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain:

But slightly soaked yet heavenly gift,

For the rain it raineth every day.

 

And tho I may have caught a cold,

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain:

What memories sweet for when I’m old,

Which I shall treasure every day.

 

Cheers!

44 comments

  1. I felt like you, when we visited Washington last year to see the Capitol Dome covered in Scaffolding, but then how often would you see that. I’ve been to Venice in the Sunshine, with thousands of people all trying to see the same thing and its not that pleasant. So hopefully you got to see a little with out thousands of other bodies around. But it sound like the overall trip was awesome 🙂 Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank YOU! And yes, it’s a bit disappointing to catch monuments and things under scaffolding. As time goes by, I can’t help feeling ‘How clean and stable does something really need to be..?’ 😉

  2. A great piece. I loved it , rain or shine, Venice is always a great place. Thank you for your reportage. I wishe I was there. (rain or shine)

    1. Thanks very much! There’s just something about Venice, isn’t there?

  3. Hey, ho, the wind and the rain! I’m used to that here. I’ve never been to Venice (must rectify that some day) but your pictures in the rain make it look just as beautiful as it does in sunnier pictures I’ve seen. I also wish I had a view like that when I was having my hair done, though I could do without the roll.

    1. Ha! Yes, that was the most picturesque hair appointment Mum ever had! I was charmed by Venice even with the weather – and I’d love to visit Glasgow one day!

  4. Lovely post, and your pictures prove that Venice is beautiful even with the rain.

    1. Thank you! My secret is only to take pics of places that are so beautiful, they just can’t be ruined!

  5. I enjoyed your humourous take on the wind and the rain (hey, ho). But it does seem unfair that your gondola ride was cancelled since boats do float!

    1. Thank you! I was so sad they couldn’t take that ride at the time…but since boats also capsize, it was probably best (grrr). Of course I’ve moved on – mostly. 😉 Thanks again!

  6. I’ve seen Venice in all sorts of weather and rain does suit it well:)

    1. Yup- I’ll take Venice in any weather! 😃

  7. Thanks for the realistic slice of life!

    1. Thank YOU for reading!

  8. You know what? I think I prefer seeing Venice in the rain! I’ve seen so many pictures of sunny Venice that it’s made your post a breath of fresh (slightly drizzly) air! Lovely photos, and rhyming “Doge’s” with “atrocious”? GENIUS!

    1. Wow, thank you so much! It definitely wasn’t like the views in the brochures – but beautiful in its way!

  9. This was the same experience we had when we visited Venice. St. Mark’s Square was also flooded on our third visit and we walked on wooden planks to get through. I’ve seen Venice in sunny and good weather, and I guess seeing in with the rain gives you a different perspective of Venice. It’s still beautiful.

    1. Ah, so you’ve walked the planks too! I agree it’s still beautiful. Not ideal – but beautiful.

  10. Beautiful place, stunning architecture, clearly looks like a fascinating place to visit, deep history, gorgeous buildings and art, wow!

    1. It was indeed – even in the rain! Thanks for reading!

  11. Oh wow, I’m heading to Venice in a few weeks, I’m so exciting ! I looks so pretty

    1. Excellent! Enjoy – and have a Bellini for me!

  12. Love the rain, this post, and the Twelfth Night reference! I’m going to keep this in mind as I travel to Venice today… it’s Venice, California but still a new place to explore 🙂

    1. Thank you so much! And enjoy Venice, Ca – it even has canals!

      1. Nice! I can’t wait to see a new place 🙂 Have a great weekend!

      2. Thanks, you too! Even though I’ll be full-on celebrating SAD. 😃

      3. Nothing wrong with that! Sometimes the best company is your own… paired with a nice glass of wine perhaps 🙂

      4. More brilliant thinking! 😃

  13. My daughter’s favourite city

    1. Excellent choice! There really is just something about it!

    1. Thanks very much!

  14. What a fun verse to end the post with. It was hard to see Venice looking so dismal….I visited in early September and was blessed by sunshine and suitably impressive clouds. I hope you get to return sometime in the sunshine😊💕

    1. Aw, thank you very much! (I was inspired even by rainy memories.) Glad you enjoyed your visit – and thanks for reading! 😃

  15. You have the most unique photos of the San Marcos piazza that I have ever seen — I’m glad you pushed on in spite of the rain.

    1. Thank you very much! Yes, it was the luck of the draw and we tried to make the best of it!

  16. Nonetheless, you made the best of it for your readers! I enjoyed the post and beautiful photos. Thank you.

  17. I am envious! Venice in the rain is still very beautiful!

    1. It truly is! One of those times where I had to adjust my thinking to remember how lucky I was to be there.

  18. Better Venice in the rain than no Venice at all. I love Venice like no other place.

    1. I sure agree with you! Thanks for reading!

  19. Fantastic photos, lovely piece, thanks for posting.

    1. Thank YOU so much for checking it out!

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