Today's objective was to find the gondola shipyard I had heard about. I knew it would not be in a high-dollar tourist area, so went walking toward the working-class neighborhoods of Venice.
Asking directions from people I met. The early morning fisherman hoping for a meal...
...a retired elderly gent taking his morning stroll...
Mom and young son watching Daddy leave for work.
Most people here have a boat for commuting.
...to this craftsman refinishing a front door.
He pointed me in the right direction.
Said to turn right at the fruit stand.
That was easy to find.
The narrow Calle opened up on a canal in front of one of the remaining gondola shipyards.
From the stacks of rough-cut wood boards, new gondolas are each built by hand. No mass production assembly lines here. Each is carefully crafted based on the customer's preferences.
Other gondolas are brought in for repairs. Some repairs can be made outdoors,
others must be done inside under the roof.
Gondola building is another trade slowly disappearing in Italy. What carpenters once carefully carved out of wood by hand is slowly being replaced with fiberglass, even black shiny plastic.
Did you know all Venetian gondolas are black?
Only the colors of the upholstery and trim make each unique and personal for the owner.
Inside the shop, workers handcraft sections and pieces to make repairs.
Canals around the shipyard are busy with working barges. Everything in Venice has to be brought in by small boat with its hand loading and unloading. Which explains why Venice has a higher cost of living.
We don't think of gondolas as being accident-prone, but Venice does have
its traffic jams in the narrower waterways. Accidents with larger motorboats are a frequent story with the gondoliers.
Now to locate our second destination for the day,
the Libreria Acqua Alta (High Water Bookstore).
Just another one of many small out-of-the-way shops tucked in between large residential buildings on a dark, narrow alley. This funky operation has a great history and following. It's a hole-in-the-wall shop packed from floor to ceiling in every available nook & cranny with used, even abandoned books.
The air inside reeks of moldy papers, ancient dust, and musty canal humidity. The ceilings are low, and books are stacked high. Books overflow from an old gondola down the middle of the main room. Smaller rooms and corridors branch off to the sides with their sagging shelves, overladen with books, looking to fall at the touch, making one hesitant to pull a book.
In the rear of the shop, abandoned manuscripts, textbooks, and encyclopedias are stacked
to build a staircase to another level. Hmm, as the bottom level of papers decomposes, are more books
added on top to maintain the steps? Looks like it.
In a dark recess, I uncovered two interesting books on photography. Though written in Italian, one can study the old black & white photos in them to learn new techniques.
Outdoors, a storm cloud gathers, changing the look and feel of the city.
Only to disappear without giving any rain.
The rest of the day was lost in wandering the twisting, winding alleyways.
Taking a photo or three of the images that caught my eye.
A corner cafe window displays fresh sandwiches for the noon meal rush.
Soon they will be gone. Today, life moves on... only to be repeated tomorrow.
Now the final image from Venice, the city that reinvents itself to stay afloat.
Street photography is spontaneous, quickly snapping an image before it disappears.
Life is in constant motion, either grab what you see fast or are lost forever.
Nothing is staged, nothing can be planned, and no models are used. Just life as one sees it.
A minute earlier, or a minute later, this image would not be here for you to see.
"Takes Two to Tango"
...and a moment later, the dance is over.
And so, we too are moving on, leaving Italy in the morning.
It was twelve years ago exactly when we were in Italy for our first time.
Some things have changed, but much is the same.
We saw many new places, revisited old ones,
and yet have not seen everything.
Those places will have to wait to be explored on another visit.
Now, on to Spain...