Sometimes you just get lucky. Months ago I determined via Internet that all tickets for an opera performance at Venice’s amazing La Fenice Opera House during my stay were sold out. However, hoping I might scoop up a cancellation or something I went by the box office 3 hours before the show yesterday and wound up with a front row seat in the Royal Box for the matinee! The Royal Box is THE BEST seat in the house (which I shared with 12 others) and the experience and performance were fabulous. The opera was Verdi’s "Luisa Miller", featuring the classic opera themes: wronged lovers, blackmail, seduction, miscommunications, suicides, and eventual retribution (no happy ending though). The opera house is unbelievably ornate and throughout intermission folks kept coming up to have a look at and through the Royal Box. The music and singing were wonderful, the production design was spare, stark, and very clever, and I was in heaven for 2.5 hours. The Royal Box even has a private exit which bypasses the throngs in the lobby for a quick after show getaway.
And now, some Venice observations:
– Italy requires you to show some ID, like a passport, which is photocopied, before you can use the Internet (at your hotel or Internet cafe alike).
– Red wine is frequently served chilled here and it’s refreshing.
– A meal ends with a dessert and then later coffee or tea (not served together as in the US).
– The "bar" at a restaurant may just be the front counter where the cash register is and dining room patrons often have to wend their way between bar patrons to get to a table. Bar patrons may actually spill out into the street if space is tight.
– There is no smoking now inside Italian bars and restaurants which has made for a much nicer eating experience.
– Stores are incredibly energy conscious. For example, at the Internet cafe they even turn off the Coke machine overnight.
– Think of all the things that are delivered by truck in your neighborhood; now consider that all those things have to be delivered by boat and handtruck in Venice. You see delivery boats with all sorts of stuff piled on them in the canal. There’s even a UPS boat.
As I feared, most Internet cafes are not interested in allowing me to install the MSN Spaces tool that you need to have in order to upload pictures taken with my camera to this blog. I’ll continue to post or provide links to pictures already on the web (and I’ll keep asking about the installation – maybe I’ll get lucky again).