Guidebooks, and even recent articles on Venice seemed of little use, and in fact we rarely used our maps. It’s important to settle into the slow rhythm of the city—a slowness dictated by the complete absence of cars and scooters, and the necessity of walking everywhere in a city of tangled alleyways in which it is very easy, even desirable, to get lost.
The Chorus pass, a card allowing admission to (16) interesting and sometimes far-flung churches provided a vague structure to some of our walks. Along the way we would find completely tourist-free neighborhoods, cheap bars and coffee bars, unexpected churches and cloisters. And art…both famous works (a constant variety of last suppers by Tintoretto) and obscure (a bit of medieval frieze depicting an ass and ox licking the baby Jesus!)
We found pleasure in local flea markets, junk shops, tiny bookbinders and obscure coffee bars. We also found signs of life, youth, and vibrancy that suggest that Venice has not yet resigned itself to becoming a museum. There are new, youthful bars, modern restaurants, and a vibrant modern art scene—the recently opened Palazzo Grassi, is a splendidly redone grand canal palazzo, it’s entire space devoted to temporary exhibitions of contemporary art.