This is how you start your day in Venice, you open the windows and shutters of your rented apartment overlooking the Cannaregio canal. Sunlight enters the living room and the whirring sounds of boat motors and the clink of cups from the cafe downstairs invades your sleepy consciousness. The cafe aromas seep in, waking you up.
You walk downstairs to Bar Al Parlamento. Inside the small bar, you order café and brioche while the local next to you drinks his glass of red wine. It’s 9 a.m. After placing an order, you walk outside and take a seat canal-side. Sit with the sun at your back and take in the view of the Venetian traffic on the canal.
You’ll see the number 52 vaporetto on its way to Murano, mostly occupied by tourists. As you watch them return your gaze, you almost feel sorry for them. They’re about to spend a lot of money on hand-blown glass just as you did the other day.
As the vaporetto passes by, the waves ripple out behind the boat, sparkling as it reflects light from the sun. As the water ebbs and reaches the edge of the canal, the parked boats sway with the waves. After a few minutes, the owner of the bar brings your café. You take a bite of the sweet brioche, the perfect foil for the bitter café. You sip your café and watch the world go by.
Cannaregio is a Venetian neighborhood where locals live and work. Some parts of it far enough from Piazza San Marco and other tourist attractions that you often find quiet places. In this corner of Cannaregio, locals outnumber the tourists.
A man drives by on his boat, his dog, a spaniel of some sort, perfectly balanced on the boat’s bow. They stop nearby and begin to back up into a spot that can barely fit his boat, parallel parking Venetian-style. They both jump off and walk away, on their way to do an errand, you suppose.
By this time, you realize it’s getting late. If you were truly a tourist, you would have been out and about standing in line at the Basilica or the Palazo Ducale instead of lingering over your coffee and savoring a slow morning in la Serenissima so, you ask the waitress for the bill, “il conto per favore.”
Then, three nonnas (grandmothers) arrive and take the seats at the next table. One of them is sporting designer sunglasses. You spend a few minutes listening to their rapid-fire Italian punctuated with elaborate hand gestures. The more they talk, the more you’re sorry you didn’t learn Italian. Whatever they’re talking about, no doubt it’s scandalous.
Now, it’s time to go. You pay your bill and start to walk away. You’re sorry to leave and miss the rest of the nonnas’ tableside tales. You envy them. They have it all, breakfasts at Bar Al Parlamento, gossiping girlfriends and Gucci sunglasses.
Fondamente San Giobbe 511
Sestieri Cannaregio, Venezia