Venice Diary: Day 26: Wednesday 26 February

Since living in Venice I’ve become much more conscious of the tides. Every time I’m out—but especially in the morning—I look to see the level of the tide. I prefer it to be high. When it’s low mudbanks appear, and the water is dirtier and smellier.

          I’ve yet to experience the aqua alta, when the streets fill with water—up to thigh level in some parts of the city. Silvia tells me that afterwards the streets smell of shit and rotting fish. I can make no pretense to being quasiVenetian (I like that word, maybe that’s what I’ll put down when I next have to declare my nationality) if I haven’t experienced the aqua alta.

          Although I haven’t experienced it, I have read about it—in Donna Leon’s book with that title. She is an American who writes detective novels set in Venice. Her policeman—something of a poet—is Guido Brunetti. I’ve read three of her books and liked Alta Aqua the best. The metaphor of the water rising as the plot reaches its climax is perhaps rather obvious, but it worked well. I was particularly pleased that two of the main characters lived close to hear.

Today it is bright and sunny yet again, and people are eating and drinking outside. But rain may be coming.

Last night I watched Juventus play Manchester United on the television in a local bar. It was very friendly, despite Manchester United beating Juventus 3-0 in their own stadium. The team was on fire, especially Ryan Giggs. Sitting opposite me was a beautiful, smiling, olive-skinned girl who looked as if she’d stepped from a Caravaggio painting—which added to the pleasure of the evening.

This morning I did three hours’ work, finished a chapter, and then set off for the market. I crossed the Grand Canal in the traghetto, something that shows no sign of losing its pleasure. In the market I bought a swordfish steak, due cento grammes mortadella, trei cento grammes spinaci, uno kilo patata, due cento grammes alviago, two pots of marmellata di aranca amare, due cento grammes oliva, two pots of single hyacinths, and a pot of daffodils. I bought a cup of vino calda and drank it by the Grand Canal, watching two girls stretched out in the sunshine on the bank, and another girl painting a large sign ready for Carnevale. Then across to Rialto Bridge to the post office to post a letter to Syd and Hazel. This is what I love, living my life in Venice.

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