Summer: Venice, Italy

We did it! We survived Venice, with a baby… just. I can absolutely recommend it. What I would not recommend is Venice, with a baby, in July. It was hot. Uncomfortably so. We all suffered, Felix more than most. His heat rash took two weeks to fade. Still, he managed to charm everyone from restaurant staff and vaporetto passengers to random passers-by as he was having his dirty nappy changed. The Italians certainly love a bambino.

The Biennale, the reason behind our lunacy, was also pretty great, or at least what of it we saw before our brains were so fried that we couldn’t take in anymore and headed for the nearest air-conditioned spritz bar. Some personal highlights included:

Giardini: the Israeli (Gilad Ratman), British (Jeremy Deller), US (Sarah Sze) and Russian (Vadim Zakharov) pavilions.

Central Pavilion, Giardini: shaker gift drawings, Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s clay sculptures, Thierry de Cordier’s menacing, stormy seas, Kohei Yoshiyuki’s photographs of Japanese voyeurs and Nikolay Bakharev’s photos of Soviet-era semi-clad public bathers.

Arsenale: the seamless curation of the first few rooms which included Robert Cuoghi’s Belinda, Lin Xie’s exquisitely detailed ink drawings and Phyllidia Barlow’s boulders, Matt Mullican’s labyrinth of signs, symbols and words, R. Crumb’s book of Genesis graphic novel, and John DeAndrea’s eerily realistic bronze sculpture.

Felix, easily pleased by neon colours and bright lights, liked Maria Lassnig’s nude self portraits (central pavilion) and Otto Piene’s light projections (Arsenale). I’m still getting to grips with my new lens so a mix of things that caught my eye and managed to make it into the frame almost in focus are pictured below, as well as a few shots of our boy roaming the gallery.

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DSC_0105an angry William Morris at the British pavilion // Ai Weiwei’s ‘Bang’ // Enrico David //  John DeAndrea // shaker gift drawings // giving his critical opinion of Maria Lassnig // where next? // Nikolay Bakharev // dodging the shower of gold coins at the Russian pavilion // riding on papa’s shoulders

The heat prevented us from our our usual mooch around the various palazzo scattered throughout the city which house all manner of further exhibitions and where the buildings themselves are often as interesting as the art. We instead took a trip to the Lido to cool off. Unfortunately, the beach was crowded, the hire of sunbed and umbrella prohibitively extortionate, and the sea disappointingly warm. Felix was however thrilled by his swim so it wasn’t all as hopeless as it felt at the time. We also made sure to visit our favourite enoteca, Grom, which has just the best ice cream, L’Anice Stellato (just across the canal from our apartment), and our dear old spritz bar that has no name (find it on the Fondamenta della Misericordia).

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osteria (right) and ice cream parlour (left) at Campo San Barnaba // sights from the vaporetto including Mark Quinn’s ‘Alison Lapper’ sculpture

We rented this apartment through airbnb in the Cannaregio district, where we always stay. Located in the north of the city, some might find it a bit out of the way but we like it precisely because it’s a little off the tourist track and there are lots of bars and restaurants popular with locals. Its easily accessible on foot or by vaporetto from the bus and train stations with luggage and a buggy. The apartment was lovely with free wifi and air-conditioning. It sleeps four (two couples) plus a baby comfortably. It sleeps five plus a baby very uncomfortably, despite being marketed as a 6 person stay. Air-conditioning is only available in the two bedrooms. Our poor friend, Marte, relegated to the non-air conditioned lounge, endured four suffocating nights on a malfunctioning sofa bed.

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local’s hanging out // out for dinner

Venice was sandwiched between visits to Lake Constance and Munich, with a short pit stop for lunch and a paddle on the shores of Lake Como. The drive was sensationally scenic, past snow-capped Alps and inviting lakes, and through misty dolomite and Tyrolean valleys. The slightly cooler temperatures in Munich were bliss after the heat and humidity of Venice and it was lovely to catch up with old friends and meet a new baby.

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a tranquil Lake Constance // passing the Alps // looking for George // dramatic Dolomites // misty innsbruck // enjoying the swings at the Englisher Garten, Munich // rubbing a lion muzzle for luck, Residenz, Munich

So that was the Venice leg of our European road trip. Unfortunately we had to cancel our trip to Switzerland as Florian damaged his eye (nothing too serious) and we probably won’t make it to Berlin (sigh) as it appears we may soon be homewards bound! Yay! Everything’s still hanging in the balance but I’ve just transferred a hideous amount of money to our solicitor so we may have some good news next week, fingers crossed.

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