Last Saturday, as I walked hurriedly and with purpose to our local shops, muttering “permisso” to every stupid tourist who stopped right in the middle of the street to consult their paper maps (they are not going to help, people!!!!), I noticed I was becoming a local.
Apart from my general outrage with tourists and their insistence of stopping randomly in front of you (stick to the right you morons!!!!) here are some other signs:
- I didn’t scream like a banshee when a pigeon flew into my face.
- The waiter at the massively touristy restaurant three streets from our house stopped badgering me to come and try their “fresh pasta” and gave me a courteous nod of recognition instead.
- I was outraged that my favourite bread shop, run by my favourite little old non-English-speaking lady who still doesn’t recognise us after our 15th visit, was “closed for improvements”. What improvements???? Its complete lack of attempt at being pretty was its charm.
- I made my way back home from a ferry stop without having to check Google Maps 107 times.
I think if it wasn’t for the incredibly minor issue of not actually being able to speak the language, I would fit right in.
I totally love it here and coming back from Lake Como really felt like coming home. I think that it is an incredibly overwhelming city if you are here for one or two days but it’s bloody awesome if you are hanging around for longer.
It’s not just the sheer beauty of every single building you see or the craziness of being surrounded by boats as the major mode of transport. It’s the convenience of the city itself.
There are so many shops everywhere and they are open till ridiculous hours of the night. As an example of how great this is (although I’m not sure Andrew would agree) at 6:40pm, I noticed my trusty black flats had a hole in them so I announced to Andrew that I was going out to buy a new pair of shoes. By 7:20pm I had come back with two beautiful pairs of shoes. Yes I know I only needed one but it just seemed so foolish to go all that way (5 minutes walk) just for one pair. Last week, I did the same thing when I realised I needed a new bra. Half an hour later I was back home telling Andrew how lucky he was that I only came back with two as I nearly bought six.
Back home, if I needed new shoes I would have had wait till the next day, drive to bloody Southland, spend 15 minutes looking for a park, walk around that stupidly ugly shopping centre for four hours only to come home empty handed because everything there sucks.
It’s not all beer and skittles though when it comes to shopping in Venice. For instance, Lucy needs a new jumper and I can’t find a purveyor of children’s wear anywhere. My iPhone lost the plot and the nearest Apple Store is on the mainland and would take one hour to get to. Luckily I took my help desk (Andrew) on holidays with me so I didn’t need to make that journey after all.
Apart from these minor inconveniences one of the best things about living here, or anywhere for a long time, is finding your favourite local shops. For me, it’s imperative to find a good florist and local cafe devoid of tourists. For Andrew, who is more practical, a good bakery and a fresh, handmade pasta shop is on the top of his list.
Not all these types of shops are frequented by tourists as they generally don’t cook at home or stay long enough to warrant buying a lovely bouquet of flowers. This means that most shop owners of these types of stores do not speak English. For a city where tourism is such an important revenue and where pretty much every local speaks English, it feels like you’ve hit the jackpot when you’ve found a shop where hand gestures and your poorly spoken Italian has to get you by.
Here are our favourite local stores so far (and one not so favourite):
As mentioned before, our local bakery is run by a lovely old lady who is incredibly patient with our attempts to explain that we don’t want croissants with marmalade inside. We would just like plain ones. This happens every day when we are in Venice. Sure, it may be more convenient if she actually remembers that we did this whole palaver yesterday but we have time to kill and frankly she is rather delightfully cute so the longer we stay in the shop the better.
The bakery is opposite the Coop at Calle del Mondo Novo, 5811, 30122 Venice. Interestingly, it doesn’t seem to have a name, which is not unusual for small local stores. I came across this again when I asked the shoe store for a cobbler recommendation so I could put a rubber sole on my new shoes. After being given directions, I asked the shoe assistant what the name of the cobbler store was and she was quite surprised and replied “but signora, it is just a small shop and there is no name”. How bloody charming!!
Fioreria A. Baldan
I was quite excited by the proprietor of this florist as she was a little terse with us when we came in, which indicates she suffers no fools or tourists, who are generally one and the same. I felt sorry for her as she may get the odd tourist come to look around but never buy as what’s the point when you are here for two days. It was with great pleasure that I could purchase a lovely bunch of pink and purple bell shaped flowers. She seemed a lot happier with us then.
Pastificio Serebussuna Di De Rossi
Surprisingly, it’s incredibly hard to find a handmade fresh pasta shop in Venice. This is one of the only ones we have found and we are lucky it is close by and super dooper tasty. The proprietors speak a lot more English than my little old baker lady or the tourist weary florist. They are really nice in here and we have been back quite a few times and look forward to eating through their small but delicious selection.
Chimera Di Ilaria Agesicora Rigoni
So I suppose a ceramic and print store may not exactly be a necessity but I’m putting it on the list if you want to take something beautiful and authentic home as a souvenir of this wonderful city. It’s run by very talented ceramicist, Ilaria Rigoni. I wanted to buy every single piece of her colourful hand crafted ceramics and all of her beautiful prints of various buildings in Venice. Sadly, we only walked away with a few little trinkets for Lucy and a beautiful little print of Saint Mark’s Basilica. I will be back!!
Majer – Sant’Agostino Gelateria Pasticceria Bar Caffè Vino
This is a bakery/cafe/wine shop chain that you will find dotted around Venice. They all serve different types of food but this one serves great pizza by the slice and has a good selection of sandwiches and pastries. There are quite a few pizza by the slice places in Venice, as you’d expect, but this place is our favourite so far. Not only are their pizzas delicious with interesting toppings but the service is great. There is a nice little seating area inside where the kids always demand to sit at a seperate table from Andrew and me. They probably want to have a break from us criticising their terrible pizza eating manners.
I was very excited to find a cute cafe that was close by and only frequented by locals. Most stand around the bar, as sitting costs more money. I was less excited by it when we found 4 bugs in the kids hot chocolate. I won’t mention its name as maybe it was just a once off but sadly we are still to find a cafe that is local, non touristy and devoid of buggy drinks. The kids have kindly created a graphic reenactment of the incident, featuring prawns.
I can’t believe we are almost halfway through our stay in Venice and I can’t wait to return to all these awesome places and discover new ones. I think my goal for the next few days will be to find a local cafe where the hot chocolates don’t come with extra protein.
It’s a tough life really.