A Venetian Summer Day in the 1950s

In this post we take you back into a world of which many of us in Venice aren’t even aware. Imagine summer without lots of tourists. No cruise ships and a time when Venetians were actually swimming in the canals !!

The idea for that post came when I walked along Riva degli Schiavoni and up on the roof terrace in the early morning to watch a special regata boat pass. There it was again, a mysterious-looking vessel amongst the vaporetti and excursion boats. Its sails looked like they were made of crimson velvet and it makes its appearance at least once a year on the last Sunday of June when the Festa di San Piero de Casteo takes place.

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Once there were many boats like this one, of all sizes, even moored along Riva degli Schiavoni which wasn’t congested during the 1950s and 1960s. My Venetian grandparents told me about these times when I was a child. When summer in Venice was peaceful and they made it sound like a dream.

Last year I started doing some research on the internet , looking  for pictures and videos that matched their tales. Here’s what I found. I loved this film called I NUA’ which in Venetian means “they’re swimming”. Below you can see these peaceful yet vivid scenes, totally unthinkable today …

Venetians DON’T swim in the canals anymore. On the contrary, they are very strict with anyone who tries to do that !!

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In the other film I’m sharing below, grandmother’s tales really come to life. Take a look at summer in Venice WITHOUT mass tourism !!!

Venetians have always welcomed GUESTS and they have gone to great lengths to make them feel comfortable. Yet, as a Venetian friend puts it, the guest of former times was genteel and respectful. After all, visiting a town built on 118 islands in a Lagoon isn’t something you’re doing every day.

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The film is called I PICCIONI DI VENEZIA – the pigeons of Venice, and you see how Venetians really are. Kind with their animals and happy to live in this city !!

Summer mornings are so bright in Venice, but enjoying it without the crowds is currently not possible. At least not in all parts of Venice and during all hours of the day.

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Behind the scenes, the Venetian summer mood of the past hasn’t changed… The gardens are green and lush and full of flowers, and it’s wonderfully warm in the morning, so fine to enjoy your breakfast (we love summer berries pancake !!) on the terrace or in the garden.

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For our visitors, there are still two narrow windows of time when they can have Venice to themselves: In the morning but you’d have to be up very early because by 9 am, boats will have arrived from all directions bringing in the crowds.

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Starting around 7:00 pm, most of the crowds will have left and you can stop on bridges and enjoy the view. Like I’m doing on the bridge leading into Campo SS Apostoli.

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