What Venice is like, right now.

Old May 21st, 2020, 03:27 PM
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What Venice is like, right now.

This is from a friend, Philip Gwyn Jones. Phil lives in Venice, teaches English a bit and writes novels. He is not exactly your standard writer living in a garret; four of his books have sold well, the fifth is on the way.

Phil and Caroline live in an apartment close to the San Basilio vaporetto stop.

Two days ago I went to buy a newspaper, a sandwich and a book. Things that would have seemed banal at the beginning of March now seem like a bit of a privilege. I needed to stretch my legs and so I walked along the Zattere to what passes for Walterís edicola these days. You might have heard about Walter. His newspaper kiosk was washed away into the Giudecca canal by the acqua grande last November. Itís since been recovered but, until itís properly patched up again, Walterís operating out of a space belonging to the church of the Gesuati on the Zattere.

I stop by Al Bottegon to pick us up a couple of panini for lunch. Theyíre famous for some of the best cicheti in Venice, and do some of the best filled rolls as well. Getting to the bar is usually akin to a contact sport, but there are no such problems today. The floor is marked out with tape, indicating the obligatory 1m of distance, but the bar is quiet anyway. It would be nice to stop and have a drink, but Caroline isnít with me and I donít think it would seem quite right. The first drink outside our apartment in ten weeks is something, I think, we really need to do togetherÖ

Libreria Toletta is the largest bookshop in this part of town. Theyíve never stocked my books, but I forgive them (itís an issue with the Italian distribution system, and thereís nothing they can do about it), and so I think it would be nice to stop off and browse. One door has been marked out as a dedicated entrance, the other as the exit. There are no formal restrictions on numbers, just a request to be patient and respectful. In the event, there is just one other customer. We dance our way around each other, leafing through books as best we can in our thin latex gloves, always mindful of maintaining a minimum distance from each other. I buy a book by Gianrico Carofiglio that I havenít read Ė I donít know why, but thereís always a book by Gianrico Carofiglio that I havenít read Ė pay (contactless, of course) and make my way home along a not-quite-deserted Calle Lunga.

That evening we go out with a friend, for a Spritz at Nicoís on the Zattere. Itís a slightly odd feeling. Everything feels normal and yet Ė like everything else today Ė anything but normal. We are at liberty to remove our masks. The waiter, however, is not, which makes conversation between us feel just a little awkward, unequal. A family of five are seated on the adjacent table, positioned, of course, exactly one metre away. The three little girls wander just a little bit too close to us, and mamma arrives quickly to chivvy them back to their seats. Most of the customers unmask as soon as they sit down, other stay masked as long as they possibly can. Everybody, evidently, is having a good time, enjoying the early evening summer sun in that blessed period before it becomes too hot. And yet, itís evident that things are not quite as they should be.

Thatís to be expected, of course. Things donít feel normal. Not yet. Thatís going to take some time. But things are, perhaps, normal enough for now. And thatís enough to be going on with.

And it was also a hell of a good spritz.
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Old May 21st, 2020, 07:00 PM
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Enjoyed that. Thank you.
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Old May 22nd, 2020, 08:15 AM
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Thanks for sharing. A glimmer of hope.
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Old May 23rd, 2020, 04:05 AM
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I loved reading this! Made me reminisce of Venice a bit though very different from my experience a few years ago as most can relate. To me there is something so eerie and stirring about the city which I've always found enticing and these times seem to make that more poignant than ever. Still I felt its beauty and left me longing for another visit.

Thank you for sharing with us. Hoping Phil writes you another letter.

I have also enjoyed your own writings about Venice.
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Old May 23rd, 2020, 04:48 PM
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How do these peeps get to live in Venice since Brexit? Aren't they British geezers? Just wondering.

It will be a very long time until I see Venice again.

Thin,aristocrat 🥪
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Old May 23rd, 2020, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Pepper_von_snoot View Post
How do these peeps get to live in Venice since Brexit? Aren't they British geezers? Just wondering.

It will be a very long time until I see Venice again.

Thin,aristocrat 🥪

They've lived in Venice for several years. Phil's wife is a long time Fodorite -- doesn't post any more that I know of. I miss her input.
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Old May 23rd, 2020, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Pepper_von_snoot View Post
How do these peeps get to live in Venice since Brexit? Aren't they British geezers? Just wondering.

It will be a very long time until I see Venice again.

Thin,aristocrat 🥪
Hi Thin Gorgeous,
Caroline and Phil moved to Venice about eight years ago, before Brexit was even a thing. Itís a bit funny, Caroline was/is Caroline Edinburgh on Fodors before they made the move, and so that is how I first encountered them. So they moved, and if you want to read what moving from Edinburgh to Venice is all about, Philís book, ďTo Venice with LoveĒ tells the story, and may be a cautionary tale.
We have met up with them a few times, scheduling trips to coincide with the launch of Philís novels.

Thin, you are a Venice freak like us. Get on Amazon, look for Philip Gwyn Jones, and buy his books.
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Old May 23rd, 2020, 07:39 PM
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I've only read the first book -- will have to look up the others . . .
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Old May 23rd, 2020, 08:08 PM
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I'm glad to read this. I"ve been wondering how they were affected.
I'll always miss Venice.
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Old May 23rd, 2020, 08:12 PM
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PS to Thin.... Watch out who you are calling "geezers", Snot Nose.
- -
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Old May 23rd, 2020, 09:15 PM
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Caroline and Phil moved to Venice in late early 2012, having given up hated jobs in IT in Edinburgh. Mr and Mrs Jones working in IT is a bigger oxymoron than friendly fire or military intelligence, it makes no sense at all. They both studied Teaching English as a Foreign Language before leaving the UK, and found work teaching in Venice.

They arrived, fetching up in a waterlogged apartment in Calle Lunga San Barnaba, later moving to near San Stefano, then Canaregio not far from the Ferrovia, and now are in an apartment overlooking Campo de San Basegio in Dorsoduro, near the San Basilio vap stop. If you google Campo de San Basegio, you will see their building. They are on the second floor (US third); their balcony overlooks the Campo.

Phil started writing, self publishing The Venice Project, telling the story of the move, now edited and republished as To Venice with Love, bring it up to date. Four novels have followed; we were lucky to be in Venice on 25th September 2015 when Phil got the word that his novel was to be published. ďMeet us for a negroni at the Brazillians, the Street of the Assasins, and then we do dinnerĒ. We burned a big chunk of Philís advance, and we were later to realise the significance of the Brazillian bar.
So Caroline and Phil have made Venice special for us, whether by attending book launches or helping lug Billy bookcases from Piazle Roma over the Calatrave bridge and into Canaregio.

Happy times.
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Old May 25th, 2020, 01:39 AM
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Thanks for sharing this! Sighing for Italy...
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Old May 25th, 2020, 05:32 AM
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@AdamJensen, “Venice has become so clean that dolphins have returned!”

I would have been wonderful if it were true, but it was not. The pictures circulating on the Internet were of dolphins near Sardinia. Unfortunately, there are no dolphins in Venice.
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Old May 27th, 2020, 03:34 AM
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Geezer just means bloke in the UK.

Thin,aristocrat 🍑
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