As we hustled through the streets again, trying to make the photographer’s deadline of being in place at the golden hour, it seemed very early. But people were already out and about – a baker arranged pastries in a window, fruit and vegetable carts prepped their wares, and refuse sweepers were cleaning up the remnants of the night before.
As we burst into Piazza San Marco again, we saw we just made it before sunrise, as gentle light lit the skies and marble buildings. I composed and shot as quickly as I could, trying to utilize the morning sunlight as best I could.
The acqua alta – high water - had reached its peak and was just starting to recede, leaving pools and puddles for reflections. I was far from the only photographer there – a squad of would-be shooters were doing their best to capture the sights.
The water rises high enough in the square that the city installed a walkway across the square for commuters, but restaurants in the square have to keep their outside tables from floating off. (There’s not much storage room anywhere).
As the morning blossomed, we took a break for breakfast, then ambled through the Rialto markets – a huge open-air market with every kind of fish, vegetable and fruit you can ask for.
For photography, I found I preferred Venice’s Rialto to Rome’s Campo Dei Fiori (more on that later) – I liked the wider selection of fresh foods and examples of butchers and fishermen cutting up their product.
The piles of squid and fresh veggies drew my camera. Fish, crabs and clams so fresh they were still twitching lined the stalls. Four-foot swordfish heads jabbed the air.
After lunch, we hopped on a boat for Burano, one of the smaller islands surrounding Venice. The bright colorful buildings were a stark contrast to the gray ornate stone of Venice.
The island was practically deserted, largely because we were traveling in shoulder season – mid-November – but several of the shops were still open and offering locally made goods.
Waiting for the ferry back to Venice, we were both starting to feel the gnaw of hunger. A nearby shack – similar to the fried seafood huts in every coastal town in New England – offered up some of the best calamari we have ever had. Not overly salty – a frequent issue for us with calamari – but tender and just right.
That was only a snack, though, and for dinner we visited Testiere – a clearly tourist-friendly place, but not tourist trap by any stretch.
This was one of our splurge meals for the trip, and it was worth it. Dinner was marvelous - scallops on half shell with orange and fish soup as appetizers. Dinner was pumpkin and ricotta ravioli with sea urchins for my traveling companion, and Mediterranean tuna with fresh porcini mushrooms for me, turbot fillet with citrus and fresh herbs.
The tight quarters led us to start chatting with the table next to us – some wonderful Brits friendly with the restaurant owner, and we chatted and sampled the specialties of the house (wine!) deep into the night.