Updated on 19 August 2019
Venice is glowing in the morning now, in the second part of August, enveloped in azure and deep blue. From now until mid-September, you’ll notice an impressive change in colors. Must be because usually, on 15 August or a few days before or after this days, thunderstorms break the heat, bringing the giornate di solleone slowly to their end (they officially “end” on 23 August).
And during the past years, we can also notice this break of the heat more often than when I was a child in the 1990s. A striking difference to the past is, though, how acqua alta now hits Venice a few times even in July and August.
I call this period of soft bright and glowing light the fifth season – la quinta stagione. It’s summer time with a bonus, and summer will be less fierce but very bright and warm without us craving constantly for shade. Even nights are getting a little bit cooler from now, but they will remain warm enought to sit outside until early October.
In any case, the Venice Film Festival (in early September) and the Regata Storica (taking place on the first Sunday in September) benefit from the pleasant part of summer. You can even sense this soft kind of summer in one of my favorite videos, showing what preparations for the Regata were like in 1948:
The Fifth Season is an expression used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, describing the season between summer and autumn. I think the concept is also useful to show what Venice is like during harvest season. At the markets, you can notice how the main colors shift from the red-blue of summer berries to all sorts of sunny colors, the glowing yellow, olive and red brown of local tomatoes which grow lush again now that the hottest days of the year are over.
This is how it FEELS like being in Venice right now.
#1 Days, if they start cloudless, are enveloped in shining azure. There’s no other word for this in my opinion, just look at the pictures above. Everything is glowing and enveloped in deep blue. The azure is even reflected by the black of the gondolas moored in front of the Piazzetta.
#2 The air is very still and you hear the birds chirping vividly in the morning. No wind, just calm weather with a hint of refreshing coolness. Often, there are little white feathery clouds in the sky. These are a sign that the hottest days are over, says my grandmother.
#3 The boats arriving from Punta Sabbioni and Iesolo at Riva degli Schiavoni are not as full as they used to be before Ferragosto. That means you can sometimes have the wide quays to yourselves – inhaling the refreshing morning air.
#4 You can eat your breakfast in your favorite coffee store in the sun without suffering a sun stroke. In the summer, I love to drink cappuccino first thing in the morning at Pasticceria alla Bragora. And now, it’s time for a cappuccino in the balmy morning light :-)
#5 There must be a reason why the Venice Film Festival takes place every year in the first part of September. You can take advantage of the season’s balmy nights and sit outside until past midnight.
#6 Venetians are coming back from their Ferragosto holiday. One store after the other is re-opening after the break. By now, we can return to our favorite bar-caffés. And the spice stores are open again!
#7 With the hottest time of the year over, flowers come back to normal. Unusual trees – the centennial botanical heritage of our town – are blossoming, and soon, it will feel like a second spring :-). Such a great time to take pictures of these trees and learn more about them.
#8 It’s the peak season for pre-autumn, sun-colored vegetables at the markets. Squash and tomatoes look wonderful, and squash is a little more tender than later in autumn, which means it is easier for me to use it to make una crema -a creamy soup garnished with tarragon and a spicy tomato topping (home-made, of course). Back are the crimson-red cuore di bue tomatoes, and the little olive-green colored tomatoes I love making risotto with. A “second spring” returns to Italy in autumn. More than in Venice you can notice it further south, for example in Positano where November is called the month of le primizie dell’autunno.
#9 Harvest time for urban gardening … there are a few half-private-half-public vegetable gardens located on several campi in Venice, such as the vegetable plot on Campo San Giacomo dall’Orio. In the shade of poplar trees, herbs, zucchini and tomatoes grow quite lush despite the leaves of the poplars t turning yellow because of the long dry summer we’ve had so far.
#10 The oleanders which were slightly overblown are growing new buds. They smell heavenly in the bright azure morning light, of vanilla and lemon zest. And there’s also the odd twig of wisteria, which will be growing blossoms soon, in the first weeks of September.