In (late) summer, you can expect the Piazza soaked in sunset hues and light until 9:30 pm !! Now that fall has officially come to Venice, temperatures have dropped somewhat. Still, sunsets in the last few weeks have been spectacular as you don’t get them often.
A friend called them “wild sunsets” on Instagram – whom I give credit to the title of this post and its inspiration. This summer, we’ve been experiencing cloud formations creating twilight and unreal sunset colors. This post is a gift from me to all of you, taking us back, virtually, to experience a special feature of the longest summer Venice has ever enjoyed.
Our walk will be along a “very beaten path” yet now not so very beaten. Even in summer, when you start your walk at 7 pm there’s enough space to finally concentrate on the details of the Piazza.
7 pm: Sitting on one of the marble benches against the Doge’s Palace, I’m enjoying serenity. Nobody else is around and my bench is still pleasantly warm from the sun. All is caressed by the sun rays. Now I’m spotting a few cocai, giant sea gulls that have taken a liking to the Piazza. They keep walking past me on the cobblestones, the ancient maségni.
7:20 pm: I’m walking along Riva degli Schiavoni towards Via Garibaldi. Along the Riva in summer, many boats are moored. Yachts. A few years ago, cruise ships used to park here !! No longer these days, though. Now, there’s just the slightest of breezes even though the waves press against the embankment.
7:45 pm: I’m back in the Piazza, there’s less light now. Looking up at the Basilica and its cupole e cuspidi tinged with sunset gold. The expression “golden basilica” comes true now that the building floodlit by the evening sun. That’s called the “Golden Hour” in photography.
7:45 pm: I’m crossing Ponte della Canonica. During the day this is one of the MOST crowded places in town. Everyone stops here, trying to take a picture of the Bridge of Sighs you can see in the distance. Now, the bridge belongs to myself. Just a few steps behind me, the gondoliers are waiting for clients. As usually, they tease me that I’m playing tourist again, walking with camera in hand and taking pictures of “motivi troppo turistici“.
7:50 pm: Feeling hungry? We’ve come to the right place. A few steps beyond the bridge is Campo San Filipo e Giacomo. Mind you, it’s a little campo, fantastic to enjoy dinner. There are three favorite restaurants of mine, all should make your evening great. First is rustic Ristorante L’Aciugheta where I recommend you taste the simple spaghetti alle vongole dish.
If you prefer a more sophisticated dinner, try Trattoria Conca d’Oro located next door. In the picture above, you can see the signature dish of L’Aciugheta – cicheti with aciughete – sardines. I love vovo e aciugeta – eggs and sardines, or involtini di aciugheta – sardines filled with red peppers. For a real treat, eat at Il Ridotto, they serve VERY fresh and VERY sophisticated food. This restaurant is also managed by L’Aciugheta.
9:00 pm: Back in Piazza San Marco, you notice the sun is setting and its rays can’t reach the Piazza any longer. Still warm, no breeze. The moon is rising against an unreal night blue sky (no filter!!)
9:05 pm: On the Piazza, you can hear violin music playing at the Grandi Caffé. Waltzer, Rondo veneziano, syrtaki, American popular songs.
Beyond the Grand Canal, in westerly direction, you can see a few clouds assembling towards the terra ferma. These are harmless and decorate Punta della Dogana with an orange-rose hued halo.
For an after-dinner drink – or in my case, coffee, I love stopping at the terrace of Ristorante Monaco e Grand Canal. In no time, a fuming caffé macchiato is served to me. Can’t resist the temptation to stop and observe the tourists. Some of them seem to be here for the first time. Just like me, they use everything they have – smart phone, tablets, professional cameras – to immortalize the evening lights.
10:30 pm: Back in the Piazza. All three orchestras are playing now. The white, plastic-like linen curtains have been curled up. I sit down to watch the scenery, on one of the black leather seats, against a column at Cafe Florian’s. Listen what the sounds are like now on the Piazza.
A few more sights, and …
… a special sound. There’s life on the Piazza until midnight and beyond. At midnight, though, you get the chance to listen to the most ancient bell sound in the world – the Maragona bell of the Campanile …