Friday, 14 March 2014

The scent of the first snow

La Fenice stands like a great ship in the muddle of houses. 
Get a last minute ticket for the stalls. Take the vaporetto from St Toma, where a man in an expensive camel cashmere coat is looking at his phone. An elderly man appears and greets him. He is wearing a soft lemon very soft wool scarf.
Later see him in the front row of the stalls.
A lot of fur around me. (A fur collar, tied into place with a fine leather lace. Some women wear fur throughout - a sky blue tippet. Very smart evening bags and shoes. Even the orchestra is glamorous - casually draped sequin blouses with a cardigan slung over - a violinist with a wonderful turban.) 
The woman sitting next to me is thin and bird-like. Sits in her deep navy long-sleeved shift dress, stiff-backed, clasping her neat hard evening bag on her lap, her black shoes long and pointed. Brilliant crimson lipstick and long curls blow-dried for the evening.
Sibelius's Sixth Symphony: "It always reminds me of the scent of the first snow", the composer apparently said. 
(Nostalgia and thoughts of home: are pilgrims often homesick? Do they travel so that home means more when they finally return?).

More effortless style glimpsed at the bar in the interval. Of course could not take pictures. But again - another Italian woman that I would like to be - in her mid 60s, a black tight pencil skirt, fish nets with taupe pointed heels, a bright orange satin blouse and monumental acquamarine earrings. Not possible - ever - to take photos of life's most interesting moments. A drawing cannot reflect the colour. She has a bright red pair of monocles hanging on a cord from her neck.
So much more luminosity than that. These are the colours of frescoes - bright and translucent.
(The supermarket has some marigolds with orange that starts to match it. Wonderful to think that spring/summer might even be within reach....)

When Byron arrived in Venice it was already faded. Napoleon had invaded in the late 90s and had taken lots of stuff back to the Louvre. There were still many noble families living there but they were probably not wealthy. It already had a faded feel - to which Byron often refers.

Earlier: after Tintoretto yesterday cannot imagine that anything will compare.... feel that it might be as well to sit on the Zattere and drink coffee. Offer to share my table with an English couple from Shropshire, it turns out. Had spotted them earlier at the station when buying my ticket to Ravenna. They were looking lost.
The man is in a polo shirt with a stain on the front. The wife (bare feet, in sandals) says they came here two years ago. 
Two years ago? was it three? says the husband. And everyone was drinking that red drink, we don't know what it was but we want to have it again. When we arrived we thought we'd take the boat in from the airport for the view... but we had to walk nearly a mile to the boat... and it was already dark and we couldn't see a thing... Then the drains.... it was hot and we opened the window and then the smell.

Veronese's church S Sebastiano is being renovated. Lots of scaffolding so hard to take in the paintings. Go in preparation for the Veronese exhibition at the National Gallery. ... Stormy skies and large dogs... Below: The Martyrdom of St Sebastian and The Repudiation of the Vashti.  To remember: the architecture of Rome, the child's face, the foreshortened leg (in the latter).

Image of the day: the hands waving from the top of the Redentore church across the Guidecca from Zattere.

Reading and watching

  • Foot by Foot to Santiago de Compostela/Judy Foot
  • The Testament of Mary with Fiona Shaw at the Barbican
  • The Testament of Mary/Colm Toibin
  • Schwanengesang/Schubert - Tony Spence
  • Journals/Robert Falcon Scott
  • Fugitive Pieces/Ann Michaels
  • Unless/Carol Shields
  • Faust/Royal Opera House
  • The Art of Travel/Alain de Botton
  • Mad Men Series 6
  • A Week at The Airport/Alain de Botton
  • The Railway Man/Eric Lomax
  • Bright Lights, Big City/Jay McInerney
  • Stones of Venice/John Ruskin
  • The Sea, the Sea/Iris Murdoch
  • Childe Harold/Lord Byron
  • All The Pretty Horses/Cormac McCarthy
  • Extreme Rambling/Mark Thomas
  • Story of my Life/Jay McInerney
  • Venice Observed/Mary McCarthy