Venice | Backstreets

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We spent most of our three days in Venice simply wandering, the mist creeping through the city’s labyrinthine alleyways behind us, a benevolent monster of sorts. Backstreets, my friend Emmy bid us, head to the backstreets; so in two pairs of tights, three woolly jumpers and a snug pair of boots, cameras in hand, we did just that.

The backstreets of Venice are where you’ll find the city’s true charm: see elderly ladies, hoary-haired and unsteady on their feet, in immaculate red lippie and curlers, swaddled in floor-length furs, stopping to browse in the windows of decadent shopfronts, carting purchases home in trolleys clattering along the cobbles. Watch men, wrapped stylishly in wool coats and felted hats, meandering in pairs, copies of la Repubblica folded under one arm, as crinkled as the rings around their eyes.

You’ll see wispy grey fog, soft and gentle as a memory, a whisper, inching through the alleys; tangled succulents reaching out from rusting windowboxes, like outstretched hands. Look for crisp white sheets and a rainbow of linens hung out to dry in the freezing cold. Look for dogs walking their owners, children walking their parents, a rare ray of sunlight skittering across the stones. You’ll smell spaghetti, and a faint whiff of sewage. Forget the Rialto, il Ponte dei Sospiri, the gondoliers – this here, these backstreets, these are the real deal.

(photos) on digital by me and Ashley Garrels