Daily Life / Winter

The Most Quiet Time of the Year

11.28.15

Is there a time – a season – that Venetians really dedicate to themselves. Getting some quiet after a long (mass) tourist season. I think I’ve made out that time. It’s now, when Venice chiude bottega for a few weeks. When festive November comes to an end and you can still find its culinary treats, like the San Martino biscuits broken into pieces – San Martino in pezzi in the bakeries. Or the one bag of the fave biscuits left over in the pastry stores.

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Even though you’d love strolling around for hours on end, these days in Venice you simply can’t for the bora winds will make you change your mind. You’ll be thinking of making a plan how to spend your day somewhere inside. It’s museum, restaurant, pasticceria time.

After the Festa della Salute I can notice an anti-climax in town and in the Lagoon. Like Venice was closing herself in, a sort of hibernation. She will wake up during the Advent time a little when the lights on Piazza San Marco – le luminarie in Piazza – will be officially inaugurated on 8 December, and a little bit more around Christmas and New Year. She will continue hibernating until Carnival …

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The morning of the Festa della Salute on 21 November started with acqua alta. The there was rain getting heavier and becoming a nuisance to avoid by noon. So I did something I’ve never done so far on this holiday. I stopped taking pictures at all and tried to make it home as quickly as I could. Afterwards, gusts of bora (northerly winds) caused temperatures plummet even more.

21 November was a rainy and greyish day. My grandmother told me how it reminded her of 4 November 1966 when the Lagoon was completely flooded, click here to read more. Warm scirocco winds brought in water masses from the south completely submerging Pellestrina and Lido so that you couldn’t make out a difference of the Lagoon and the open sea any more. Unexpectedly, like this 21 November, in the afternoon the wind turned and cold bora started to blow from the north, pressing out the masses of kwater from the Lagoon. That’s how Venice was saved in the very last minute in 1966 !!

In case you were in Venice on that 21 November 2015, now you know what this 4 November 1966 has felt like, temperature-wise.

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Many Venetians went to attend the Festa della Salute and remained in the church for quite a long time. After the patriarch’s mass, starting at 10:00 am was over, we were invited to come up to the main altar, remain here for another while and then  leave via the sacrestia. So I got a close-up glimpse of the altar and its duality,  for there’s a second altar behind the red brocade curtains.  You can see how the columns were exceptionally draped with finest brocade, velvety to the touch, offered by Bevilacqua. All in red and golden, the colors of Venice.

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This in-between season is a time when Venetians take a retreat in their own town. Gettin creative behind the scenes, thinking things over. These grey days, with the sun trying to make its way through the mist are getting shorter now. Still, there are quite a few things to do – inside Venice.

Expand one’s knowledge, for example. (Test-) cooking, studying books on botany and herbs and spices. Mixing a herb tea based on ancient recipes and family cookbooks, with ingredients from Drogheria Mascari. Making a cold-fighting infusione – spice tea. Visit museums you’ve been wanting to go to – or exhibitions like the Acqua e  Cibo on Food and Water in the Lagoon of Venice which I explored thoroughly.

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Discover and re-discover the hidden “retreats” around Piazza San Marco – new perspectives from and of the Piazza. Take lots of pictures for our Venetian Instagram hashtag  #veneziadatoccare, take a look here.

Venezia da toccare literally means “feel Venice”,  photos conveying a haptic experience of our town. It means we take close-up pictures of the patterns and reliefs of town, striking ones that will make you feel like you’re touching the stones, flowers, wooden or iron cast rails of Venice.

Now you’ve got all the time to linger and take in the courtyard of the Doge’s Palace without the crowds. Enjoy a close-up view towards the eastern part of Venice, Castello, from the third floor. Notice details like the quarrelsome Venetian Lion positioned in the ante-room of Museo Correr. Looking even more impressive against his backdrop, a gold-framed mirror.

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You could also say that Venice is in maintenance mode. Winter is a time to repair. Tending your garden, planting new shots, weeding, hibernating geranium …

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Experimenting with scents and perfumes. Spending time in  a fashion store or profumeria before the onslaught of Christmas shopping. Anticipating Advent time which on Saturdays can be very crowded. Looking for a cuffia di lana , a woolen bonnet – a must these days in Venice :-)

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Even the Rialto Market looks a bit empty. These days, after the Festa della Salute and before the Christmas season really sets in, one third of the food stalls at the market are closed. But don’t think there’s a shortage! Those stalls open offer a host of colorful food for a Venetian Thanksgiving soul food menu.

There was yet another new experience for me, being the only passenger in a gondola tragheto crossing the Grand Canal from the Market to Santa Sofia on Strada Nova on a sunny, early afternoon.

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Author: Iris

Iris Loredana: Culinary historian, food and lifestyle blogger. Author of the Blogs "La Venessiana" (Venice) and "From My Italian Home" (coming soon). My family is from Venice and Amalfi and I'm currently based in Venice and Vienna. I love traveling, cooking and gardening - all the things I'm writing about in my blogs !!

12 comments on “The Most Quiet Time of the Year”

    1. Thank you dear Michelle!! It’s a special time, you nearly have Venice to yourself :-) We’re feeling a little better, thanks to home-made tisane – infusions. Must be the cold sea air, almost zero Celsius degrees a few days ago in the morning..

  1. It was cold like this when I was there in 2012. On my first trip to Venice in October/November 2008 (a week the end of Oct and the first week of Nov) I wondered why all the Venetians seemed to have their scarves tied high around their necks….even men in business suits(I knew THEY were not tourists). But after spending November/December there in 2012 I understood and started tying my scarf the same way. Those winds can get you even when it’s sunny.
    Glad you are better.

    1. Yes, there’s a good reason to wrap yourself well into a scarf – and why long woolen scarfs are always fashionable here in Venice in winter. The sea breeze mustn’t be underestimated if one stays outside for too long – which I usually do :-) But thank you, am feeling a little better already.

      1. My collection of cuffie and scarves is also growing :-) It’s the humidity, not to underestimate when you go for a long walk.

  2. Thanks Michelle, for sending me the link to this fascinating blof. Had a lovely evening just enjoying the atmosphere that came across so well. I am really looking forward to my five days away from home, just to explore the beautiful city of Venice, to walk wherever I please (as long as it is warm enough) and just having the chance to unwind in such beautiful surroundings.

    Have been twice before, (once in April and once in October), I loved the sometimes almost wintry days with fog and then a bright sunny day in between. I will surely go in search of the quarrelsome lion. :)

    Today I had a medical appointment and the dr. asked me where I was going for my vacation (as they had been kind enough to fit me in): I said to Venice. She replied that she often used to go there in December and always found it so wonderful in the pre-Christmas time of Advent.

    Looking forward to reading more posts on this blog,
    Elizabeth

    1. Dear Elizabeth, a very warm welcome to you, there will be at least weekly updates – new blog posts!! I think especially in winter, Venice is a fine place to unwind. So much to discover – in my opinion, a life time isn’t enough :-)) By the way, I’m starting a Culinary Venice Advent Calendar tomorrow, so you could also take a look at my Christmas website “Natale a Venezia” – http://www.nataleaveneziaweb.com

  3. Reblogged this on Livedinitaly's Blog and commented:

    Venezia through the eyes of a Venetian. So few true Venetians remain in Venice, and like the heritage, they are a dying breed. Cherish the writings of Iris Loredana as she brings back vivid memories of my six years living in the Veneto. Grazie mille cara signorina, sei veramente gentile.

    1. Grazie di cuore!!!! Thank you so much for sharing this winter post on Venice on your page!!! It’s now in December that we can cherish a quiet Venice, at least for another week. A time to go exploring our heritage… there will be more about life in Venice, past and present, soon on my blog!!!!

    1. Thank you!!! I love the quiet season in Venice, and now we are really getting ready for Christmas – but it’s different to other parts of the world – you can see it in my Advent Calendar 🎄

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