Monday, July 2, 2012
The smells of Venice
Venice - A tropical city, densely built, where people live very close together. Not only are there untold amazing sights around every corner - a cornucopia of smells also assails the senses at each turn.
The canals exude the dank vegetal smell of limpid brackish water, along with a funk of diesel from the many boat engines.
If you ride a vaporetto, the water-borne public transportation, a standing spot near the deck railing will be redolent of the hemp and creosote smell of the thick ropes the deckhands use to tether boats to the docks.
Lunch and dinnertime smells of baking pizza dough and melting mozzarella fills our narrow Calle di Boteri.
Cookies and delicious baked goods perfume the air as you pass the dolce shops.
We discovered a wonderful shop nearby the Rialto Bridge that sells wine along with nuts, spices, mustards and other delicacies. The aroma when you enter the door is overwhelming - a kind of mixture of pepper, fruit, fermentation and sweetness.
Our nearby campo is named after cheese-sellers of older times. One step through the doors of the Casa del Parmigiano tugs the nose with the noble funk of strong cheese.
In the most touristy parts of Venice, where the shops sell junky glass beads and plastic glitter-glued masks, the senses are assailed with that god-awful incense smell that infuses even American tourist traps - it's a smell that drives me right out of a shop within seconds.
But the strongest and most prevailing smell of Venice - the smell that is everywhere, in every tiny calle and especially in the covered sotoportegi is the ammonia smell of cat-piss.
There are a lot of cats in Venice, by the smell of it.