I’m back from Venice. The whole five day trip seems like a bit of a hazy dream now. It went so quickly. Was I really there or did I dream it all…?
Judging by the heap of photos and video fragments on my phone, it must have been real. – Talking of which, I spent today arranging said bits in some kind of order.
The resulting piece (video at the bottom of this post) has turned into a bit of an epic in four acts:
Overture – Preparations and Arrival
I set this segment against the eerie sounds of the acqua alta sirens because I arrived in the most scary stormy weather (up to 50mph gusts and heavy showers). Having totally misjudged the situation (and getting a little lost in the dark and the heavy rain) I finally arrived at my hotel looking and feeling like a drowned rat. Note to future self: take a boat!
The whole week leading up to and including the first couple of days of my stay saw tides as high as 130cm. The sirens drifted across the island at night and in the early morning – like the ghostly song of a desperately lost spirit.
Act 1 – The Sun Arises
This segment is full of first impressions. Saturday was the first morning in full costume. It was totally overwhelming: I could not move for photo requests. The two minute walk from my hotel to San Marco took more like 20 minutes. I had been prepared for that. However, what I hadn’t been prepared for was the rudeness of some of the tourists and photographers. They nudged and touched and shoved each other around. They resented it when I wanted to take a walk around the square after standing in a single spot for 15mins slowly getting cold. And at times I felt myself resenting them for treating me like a puppet. It was a thoroughly strange experience.
After about two and a half hours I could suddenly feel that my pa-pa-pa-paperface had soaked up so much condensation, it was about to fuse with my skin. Oh noes! Mask emergency! I had totally underestimated the amount of condensation that would build up behind the mask, and all those layers of paint and whatnot had clearly not done their job of sealing the papier-mâché. 🙁 Good job I had brought a plan B. Back to the hotel for a hasty change of outfits and another dive into the carnevale pool – this time as one of the paparazzi.
By the way, the slightly frustrating full costume experience so early on meant that I consequently never got too close to those in costume and never wrestled with photographers over best shot positions. I know what it feels like from behind the mask. It’s not nice.
Additional music: Circus Marcus – L’enclume
Act 2 – The Long Procession
This section opens with a parade that caught me by surprise as I was walking along the seafront (that’s why my filming position is less than ideal in terms of light). I realised that the procession was the Corteo delle Feste delle Marie and spontaneously decided to capture some of it on my phone. You can tell how busy the spectator area was by how unsteady the footage is.
This “Act” also contains a few snaps from the Flight of the Carnival Angel event on Sunday, which was unexpectedly moving. It was only spoiled by the many people who decided to hold their iPads above their heads to film the event. Someone should tell them that smaller recording devices are available.
Additional music: Kai Engel – Rainfall Serenade
Act 3 – Send in the Clowns
There I was in the Piazza San Paolo minding my own business, watching the one and a half people making use of the ice rink when I suddenly picked up the faint sounds of a jazz band. Another impromptu filming moment!
I wasn’t originally going to film the entire song, but capturing the behaviour of the people was just too fascinating. Watch the photographers jostling for territory. Simply stunning.
Act 4 – Photo? Photo! Photo!!!
This is probably my favourite segment of the entire video: I just love the way the sunlight plays with with the winged lady (12mins in onwards).
This section captures so well what it’s like to be in full costume in the middle of it all. From tourists shoving babies in your face to boobs poking into your rib cage as they force themselves upon you in never ending droves. It really is a strange experience to be an object.
As with all the other parts of the film, I wanted to contrast the busy tourist packed areas of Venice with the quiet moments I had elsewhere. I relished the lengthy boat trip from Fondamente Nove back to San Marco. It was much needed recharging time after a very full on weekend.
And La Traviata on Monday night at the Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto was the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed. Bravo!
Additional music: Wall Matthews – The Clowns Little Piece
What can I say? This guy deserved the last minute of the video. He was stunning. The sound he created put an air of fairytale to what has been a very special five days.
Here’s the full video
Will I do it again?
Absolutely. In spite of the rude tourists and the photo mob I had the most wonderful time. My hotel and its staff were delightful. The food was amazing. The air was so crisp and clear and the weather was gorgeous for most of my stay. It was everything I had imagined and then some. Oddly, the unusually high acqua alta situation just added to the experience: the lagoon had come to greet me.
As this was my first visit to Venice I often found myself torn between wanting to be part of the carnival and wanting to explore the less touristy places. Due to my main mask getting waterlogged so early on (it didn’t dry fully till Monday evening), I spent less time in my costume than planned. To be honest, it probably did me a favour: I pretty much managed to see bits of every single tiny island that makes up the main part of the city. There was no spare time for boat trips to Murano, Giudecca, Torcello or any of the other nearby places. It means I’ll have something left to explore on my next visit. 😀