A Venice Diary – Part 1

VeniceThere is no light like the light of Venice. The city welcomes us with a line of tourists buying tickets for the ferry in Piazzale Roma and it definitely feels like entering a theme park. Who to blame? Usually one accuses those who wanted the city in this way, the administrations who organized it around tourists. But the reality is that you cannot be but a tourist in Venice. No matter how hard you try to be a traveller.
The city resists any attempt of integration and metamorphosis into its space. It’s an extraneous place; a radical expression of discontinuity with the present, that forces each visitor to find a way of adapting to its otherworldy beauty.
It might be the pigeons who come sit on your table when you are outside having a coffee, reminding you that you are not from here, that you are not going to be comfortable, because it’s August and it’s going to be hot when you’ll walk from the Arsenale to San Marco, dribbling the tourists who take pictures of tourists taking pictures of the Ponte dei Sospiri.

It’s Monday and the Biennale, the reason for our trip here, is closed. The line to the church of San Marco is too much for us. We can only walk under the colonnades drinking two euros water and sitting for a while in the shade. Where can we go out tonight? Definitely not in this square. I check online and I find out that many people hang out in Campo Santa Margherita. Each of us goes back to his and her own hotel. Y. has a room at the Accademia, I have one at Giardini.

Some hours later we discover that it’s at night that this city welcomes you. Tourists disappear. Confounded at the restaurants, they seem veterans of a war that no one wants to fight. And some of them, sitting in an empty and hidden square can even give you good directions. I get lost when I go pick up Y. at her hotel. I make a mistake with the vaporetto stop and I have a hard time finding out how to go back to the previous one. It’s only probably ten minutes that I walk around in complete unawareness, and I am suprised and, at the same time, dangerously attracted by the narrow alleys, by the weak lights, like Robert Frost in a snowy evening. I ask a girl and her dog for the Accademia and she lets me follow her for while. Once I manage to keep my promise, I realize: there is no darkness like the darkness of Venice.


Wine tasting in Guardia Sanframondi

20130807-130702.jpgVinalia is 20 years old. The event dedicated to wine and food, taking place every summer in Guardia Sanframondi, in the province of Benevento, has now reached the maturity of an international fair, still keeping the flavor and charm of a local gathering.
Guardia Sanframondi is an old medieval town located in an area of Campania, named Sannio, which swarms with wineries and vine varieties. Guardia is very popular for the penitential rites that are held there every seven years, but it is also, like many other similar medieval towns in the region, mostly a ghost town, that lives again thanks to events like Vinalia or to weekend tourists coming from other cities of Campania.

I picked a Tuesday night to visit Vinalia. Not a bad choice, since the fair was definitely less crowded than usual and this allowed me to enjoy all the peace and cool air of the village.
For just 8 euros I could buy a pass to the two tasting options offered at the event this year: a wine tasting (four wines) and a food tasting (a plate of local cheese and cold cuts, plus three wines).

The wines I tasted weren’t really all that good, and they are not worth men20130807-132744.jpgtioning. With the exceptions of a Fiano produced by the winery Fosso degli Angeli, called Dulcis and a Falanghina produced by Torre Venere, called Sannio Falanghina.
It was hard to find any enjoyment in drinking the reds, but the town of Guardia Sanframondi helps in forgetting bad wines. Walking among the narrow alleys, up and down the stairs of the village is a constant discovery, as exciting as a journey in the past.
But the journey is characterized by cultural interactions and mixtures. There is no other way of defining indeed, the music offered that night at the event: a jazz trio with the vocalist Lady Laura playing swing and the French-Italian artist Sandro Joyeux, with his repertory of West African music mixed with reggae and a sort of “chansonnier” vibe.


Guardia Sanframondi remains a hidden gem to discover and Vinalia is still the perfect excuse to visit this remote village on a hill.