Sunday, December 09, 2012

Weird, removed from reality and spooky; indeed, slightly creepy


I've figured it out: Venice is Miss Havisham.

Indeed, if there ever were a place hiding a mad old woman living in a crumbling palace, dressed in motheaten finery, waiting in bitterness for her long lost grandeur to return,

you'd find her in Venice.

I'm home. Somewhat the worse for wear. I spent 12 hours stomping around the weird old place in my big tall black winter boots in the freezing cold on Saturday. My legs, not used to that much punishment (all stone streets, up the bridge stairs, down the bridge stairs, stomp, stomp stomp...) have entirely seized up. Am applying the ancient Grandma solution of a hot-water bottle under the knees.

I can see why people get obsessed with that creepy old place, and can't stop themselves from going back again and again. It's out of my system for now, but I suspect I'll be seized with the urge again at some point. But I can't tell you how good that strangely sterile and crumbling old city makes Rome and Santa Marinella look.

Rome is vibrantly alive. Venice is a ghost.

More later. I'm tired.



~

14 comments:

Deborah Gyapong said...

I have sort of wanted to go to Venice. I really look forward to reading more of your take on it. That's good news about the train from Rome.
Hmmm.
Thanks for the pictures. I hope you post more!

Anonymous said...

There's nothing creepier than getting lost in Venice at night.

Lydia

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

I got lost in Venice at night, and it was damn creepy!

Paolo said...

Venice in winter is very different to other seasons. In winter it is a cold, foggy, mysterious place. But in summer it is so different - I went for a festival as boy in 1975 and it was a delight - subsequent visits in autumn and winter (my last was in 1991) were more as you describe. I have never been anywhere else like it, tho'.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

It creeped me out in July, Paolo. I got separated from my group and wandered into a residential neighbourhood, and I couldn't get away fast enough. Whatever malign spirit haunts the place, it's there year-round.

df said...

You're not alone in yr appreciation of that extraordinary place. Some 10 years ago or more I sat and talked for an hour with a dear friend in an empty St Mark's Square. It was 2am early in November and the mist swirled around as the lagoon lapped at the quay; I was at once enchanted and slightly horrified by the place. It has never left me.
Two films which bring out some of the decay and creepiness of the place are Don't Look Now and Death in Venice. A film which totally misunderstands la Serenissima is the execrable 'The Tourist', which out of respect for aesthetic sensibility I do not link to.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

...and yet, of the three is the only one I'd be willing to sit through...

The Crescat said...

It sounds like New Orleans with canals. I hope you'll be sharing a few pictures here.

Anonymous said...

There's also the unsettling and macabre film (and book), Comfort of Strangers, assisted by the presence of Christopher Walken, who sends shivers up my spine (and not in a good way).

Lydia

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

It's funny, but Chris also mentioned N.O. as being Venice-like in many respects. I never been, but since Katrina have now even less interest than the zero I had before. And now that I've been thoroughly creeped-out by Venice, I feel I'm well stocked up on creeped-outedness.

Deborah Gyapong said...

Well, sadly, Rome at night creeped me out a little too, with all the graffiti on everything, the soupy darkness not alleviated by streetlamps, the filth that made me wonder whether the streets were ever cleaned, until I saw a crew in uniforms standing around and cleaning a little those gellato-smeared cobblestones.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

I think it was the lifelessness of it, the sterility of the utterly bare stone streets. Every time I passed a person walking or even a noisy group, it seemed as if they were either trying to get away from it to the safety of some apartment, or trying to shout down the silence.

I don't find Rome sterile. Far from it.

Anonymous said...

And where are the children in Venice? It's very hard to see any. And I don't mean those of the tourists.

Lydia

binks webelf said...

I`m not sure if he`s the way into it, but I`m reading John Julian Norwich`s history of Venice.

As a Byzantophile, I love and hate Venice-- not least for her despicable role in the Crusader conquest of Constantinople, and the fact that she-- a daughter of Byzantium in so many ways-- sat back and did nothing in 1453 except calculate how to start doing even more business with the Turks. Haunted.. indeed, with the spoil of her Mother scattered around the place, and the unheeded cries of a dying Byzantium to curse her name forever.