23 November 2007


The most memorable moments I have in Venice are always unexpected ones, when circumstances conspire to give me a glimpse of the real city and (if I’m lucky) include me enough to make me feel I belong. Today I had just such a moment.

I spent this grey, rainy morning laying in provisions for the weekend – bread, groceries, produce, wine, cash… a new dress… (You get the picture.) Lunchtime got away from me somehow, and I found myself feeling chilly and needing a little pick-me-up. So I dropped into a small wine bar I like (Mondo di Vino) and ordered a glass of a wine I’ve been enjoying recently (Fichimori – it’s from Antinori, and it’s red, but you drink it slightly chilled). At my first sip, the bar went dark. In fact, the entire calle was blacked out.

No problem.

The two young women behind the bar scurried about, lighting the room with candles and filling up their customers’ glasses at the same time. Very quickly the room became cozy and intimate. Because there’s no mechanical traffic noise in Venice, I could hear all the lively commentary throughout the neighborhood. The blackout brought more people out of their shops and homes. The already crowded room got busier and buzz-ier. Inside and out, the jovial chatter grew louder, punctuated by the hearty sound of Venetians enjoying a good joke. They are such a lively, animated people. And my Italian is now good enough to keep up somewhat, so I caught the gist of their jests. In short, everyone was delighted to have the unscheduled break, but it was still great fun to complain about it to one another.

I don’t know when or if the power came back on for those Venetian neighbors, but what a pleasure it was to be one among them for a little while!