We spent the second half of our Easter break in Italy – first stop Venice.
I will write about the rest of our time there later (adding a baby to a trip to Venice adds a whole new dimension!), but this post contains the results of what was for me at least, the best three-quarters of an hour of our entire stay. Having only ever stayed outside of the city on our previous visits (last time opting for a hotel with a pool a 15 minute drive away), this was the first time we had stayed in Venice itself, and by doing so it meant that I could tick something off my lengthy travel photography bucket list…
I had always wanted to get up at dawn and go out and explore there, so on our last morning I turfed myself out of bed before it was light, and left Mr R and the Small People to slumber on. Whilst I was trying to open the door of our apartment quietly, the Small Boy sat bolt upright, demanding to know whether I was “going out for food” as he had “been awake for ages and wanted breakfast” (typical! It could possibly be easier to teach an elephant to ballet dance on the days you actually need children to get up!!). This energetic and rather loud exclamation of curiosity and hunger woke his sister up too, so there was nothing for it, for the next 45 minutes I had two small and at first rather bleary eyed photographer accomplices (one with her own camera, the other entrusted with my smaller camera!).
St Mark’s Square as you never normally see it…
First stop cutting through St. Mark’s beautifully empty square to get to the water. Apart from a handful of fellow photographers, pigeons, a couple of people getting engagement shots done, masses of street cleaners and people on their way to work and/or bringing supplies into the city, we really did have it all to ourselves. That meant we were able to get close to a good few things that would usually be swarming with tourists, taking time to spot the tiny details that we might have rushed past during the day to get out of the crowds.
It was also fun looking up the history of a few of our finds later on, like the rather sad story of the Venetian couple high up on a pillar spotted by the Small Boy – a tale of true love, childbirth, death and mourning.
Or this guy who looks like he is eating a medieval ice cream or it could be a chicken leg – medieval KFC?
Venice at first light is something truly special. We got lucky in that it was quite a misty morning too (not too uncommon given its location), and as the light increased, the clouds began to gradually disperse and all manner of ancient buildings unveiled themselves.
Between the three of us I think we took over 800 photographs of pretty much everything we could see in that short time. My pictures were mainly of the famous buildings through the mist, the boats on the lagoon and the very devoid of humans St Mark’s Square.
Small Boy followed my lead anxious not to drop my camera, but came up with a few compositions I wouldn’t have even thought about, mostly thanks to being a little tired I suspect and having a lie down at one point.
Thinking about breakfast?
And, as individual as ever, his older sister refused to snap anything that we were taking, and set off on her own unique mission.
As well as the scenery it was a real treat to have the two of them to myself for that time, their baby brother does hog me to himself somewhat at the moment (understandably at 6 months old!).
I hope that one day they will remember our brief photography mission – being able to see the real face of the city as it got ready for the day ahead as well as its emptiness was a real privilege, and well worth getting up for. Not to mention the history lessons we learned along the way. Did you know for example that the Campanile in St Mark’s Square collapsed in 1902 and had to be completely rebuilt? Or that the benches piled up in corners of each street and square are put together to make one long pathway when the city floods as it does at least 100 times a year?
Beginning to get busy…
And after a short while, sensing that our time might be up in terms of the gradually increasing numbers of people, and a mother’s instinct that a tiny person would soon be waking up for breakfast (as would Mr R who would probably wonder where we all were!) we made our way back.
All moored up…
One morning I will never forget.