Monday, 29 June 2015


It’s been strange. We have a TV in our apartment in Venice and it’s remained silent and unused for two weeks. We haven’t seen a newspaper. We overhead an Englishman muttering “this Greece business looks bad”… ḉa change…..but other than that we’ve been a news free zone.

First of all we feel free of that anxiety about English cricket, the EU and the latest tech company to tumble. Life is parochial, sunny and more orientated to lunch and supper than matters of state.  And here’s the question. Have we, through the 24/7 wonders of our uber-fast communications set up in today’s world, become wildly undiscriminating and lazy? Everything matters and nothing does. News comes non-stop in torrents of little gobbets like cicchetti.

What is remarkably obvious is freedom from the news for a while is incredibly relaxing. Although I must confess I sent an e-mail to my garage about a service but it seems it ended up in their “junk folder” and so it should. Next time we come here there’ll no phone or laptop either.

So what news do I have apart from my rant last week on art?

Just three things:

Customer service here in Venice is getting better and better from the highly personalised welcome from one restaurant, the Riviera - “Good evening…I own this restaurant and want you to have a really lovely time this evening…call me if there’s anything you want” (and I think he genuinely meant it)

to another at La Bitta where on giving me the bill the owner said  “I’ve taken €10 off as you’re friends” glaring at a German couple at the next table who clearly were not (but yes we do go to this restaurant a lot)

The centre of Venice around St Mark’s Square, the Riva degli Schiavoni and the Rialto are packed by bemused tourists but as now we know how to have a quiet restful time in Dorsiduro and around Santa Croce. Do not trust people who say it’s noisy, crowded and ruined any more than you’d say Brighton or London are.

Venice is good value. Yes honestly. It isn’t a rip-off joint. Take Alsquero, a little cicchetti bar which deservedly gets rave reviews on Trip Advisor. Think triple sized canapes costing just 80p each and a wonderful small glass of wine at less than £2. Lunch costs about £5…and this is not atypical.

The final point is to anyone and everyone in business. Every so often take off to a place like Venice which is alive and trading but restful too. Get an apartment - hotels are so claustrophobic and reminiscent of business. Read lots. Walk lots. Eat lots. Don’t take too many clothes. Wash out that dull, news filled dusty mind.
I only realise now how bad tempered, knackered and stressed I’d been. And I have a really easy life.
So “rilassarsi, divertirsi e cin, cin” and remember doing nothing is sometimes the best strategy.

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