Ciao, ragazzi, from an internet cafe in Campo San Stefano (pronounced STEF-a-no, and not Ste-FAN-o, as this correspondant just learned).
Venice is more spectacular than I remembered, although my view of it has no doubt been enhaced by the extreme amount of reading and research carried out prior to this trip, and my impressions, every one, are being recorded in a little orange Claire Fontaine notebook specifically labelled "Venice September 2006." My everyday Moleskine is on congé. Why such attentiveness on this trip? For that matter, why this trip at all? I'll leave you to puzzle that over, until the day when I receive such good news that the whole cloak and dagger routine is no longer necessary.
Soon after I got into town yesterday, I went to Santa Maria della Salute, where, following Philippe Sollers, I was planning to light a candle to guide the hand that writes (or the fingers that type). I made it as far as the nave when a clean-shaven young Venetian approached me and shook his head disapprovingly.
"Troppo corto," he said, gesturing at my denim mini-skirt. I had had the presence of mind to wear a cardigan over my tanktop (it is molto caldo in Venice right now), but hadn't given a second thought to the skirt. It would seem, dear friends, that the display of legs is unholy. Maybe my legs glow harlot red to him, maybe this pious young man could tell that the night before, they were wrapped around my boyfriend's waist.
I was a little surprised at the enforcement of this particular rule, as I was surrounded by tank-top wearing tourists in the church, but I didn't feel too resentful once I applied the Kantian imperative to the situation. I mean, if all women wore short skirts to church, when they knelt they'd be putting on a more interesting exhibit than the transformation of the host, and would no doubt distract the choir from their singing.
"Can I just light a candle and then I'll go?" I pleaded. He frowned, but nodded, grudgingly. Sin is permitted to light a candle, as long as it drops a euro for the privilege.
To the hand that writes, and the heart that loves, I thought as I lit my tea candle, and then I got the you-know-what out of there. And today, my white pleated skirt covers my knees.
But the sins this skirt has seen...