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.

We're staying near the Pescheria, the traditional open-air fish market - so a morning walk through the stalls is filled with a not-unpleasant smell of fresh - very fresh - fish. 

A walk through the empty, washed-stone market in the afternoon has a different, stronger smell that lingers. The adjacent produce market is stocked with such an abundance of fruit that the fragrance of ripe berries, peaches and pears makes the mouth water.

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.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

LOLcats, indeed.

I did not know this, Aunt Snow.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

I was in Venice in February, and actually experienced a rare snowfall- the scents weren't so pungent then.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Here I was envying you for making it to Venice (we spent our autumnal visit in Pisa, Rome, and Florence)... now, I am a little less envious!