Life Thursday Doors Venice

Thursday Doors – Love in the Time of Corona

We had planned this trip for months; what better birthday present than a trip to Venice for someone who had never seen her delights? La Serenissima. La Dominante. The Queen of the Adriatic. City of Water, Canals, Bridges, Masks. A beautiful historic city, marred only by the crowds of tourists, disembarking from mega cruise ships.

We didn’t bank on the overcrowding problem being solved by the arrival of a single-stranded RNA virus called “novel coronavirus 2019”. It is related to the common cold. But when this virus mutated from an animal reservoir in Wuhan, crossing over to humans and attacking lungs, it gained a new name, “severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2 for short). The resulting disease was named Covid-19 because the WHO were notified on 31st December 2019.

The disease hit Italy when two Chinese tourists were hospitalised in Rome on 31st January, but the stronzo didn’t make contact with the airconditioning until February 18th when a man developed Covid-19 in Codogno, Lombardy. He had had no apparent links with China. The doctors didn’t test him for 36 hours, by which time he had infected several others. Patient One.

I checked the Foreign Office website for information, which didn’t advise cancelling the trip. The airline was still flying. So we went to Venice. We took the bus from the airport to the Piazzale Roma. From there it was a short walk to Hotel Carlton on the Grand Canal.

Simon, the hotel concierge, checked us in and said, “I must tell you that you might have to leave tomorrow. The Government has issued a decree locking down areas of northern Italy, and this includes Venezia. But it hasn’t been signed yet. Perhaps in half an hour I will know more, maybe tomorrow morning. Have a good night.” Ah well, que sera, sera, as Doris Day sang, but in Spanish, not Italian.

The next morning after breakfast, we talked to Simon again. “Venice is in lockdown according to the Government. But the local governor of Veneto disagrees with this. So we don’t know whether the decree will be enforced or not. My advice is to enjoy the empty streets and canals of this beautiful city until a decision is made. There’s nothing else to be done.” So we did.

House next to Church of St Simon the Lesser (SImeone Piccolo). He is the patron saint of leather and woodworkers. Big, dark doors with elaborate fanlights.

The Grand Canal winds through the city like a serpent. It is the aorta, the main artery of Venice, its lifeblood. There are no wheels here, apart from children’s bicycles and roller skates, so the Grand Canal serves as a motorway for all kinds of traffic. Each of the two hundred or so palazzos on the canal has a door at water level. This is the portal for the delivery of mail, food supplies and other items are delivered, with laundry and rubbish being taken away.

More water doors:

By Dr Alfred Prunesquallor

Maverick doctor with 40 years experience, I reduced my NHS commitment in 2013. I am now enjoying being free lance, working where I am needed overseas. Now I am working in the UK helping with the current coronavirus pandemic.

9 replies on “Thursday Doors – Love in the Time of Corona”

Lovely shots. It must have been a strange feeling to not see crowds of tourists everywhere.
I have always wanted to visit Venice but I have a feeling it’s going to be a while…


Lovely photos. Lovely light. The city gets more and more interesting once you get 200+ metres away from the Grand Canal. It’s impossible not to get lost, which is the point! Hope you at least get a few days there. Lucky you, and it’s empty.

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“…but the stronzo didn’t make contact with the airconditioning…”

I didn’t understand this part. Can you please explain? Is the virus the stronzo?

Thank you for taking so many door photos for me and all of us. I haven’t been to Venice in the last five years since I started to mind the doors.

If you don’t mind, a question: How do you explain the fact that Italy was hit as hard compared to almost all the rest of the world? Is it due to the age of the population, or can it be that the flu vaccines that Italy received had indeed been tempered with in order to respond to the virus now? (No need to answer, I just feel better asking. I’ve been reading left and right but the truth is so hard to come by.)


Manja, I was being very crude and facetious. “Stronzo” is Italian slang for “sh*t” – as in the expression, “sh*t hitting the fan”, illustrating the disastrous spread of the virus.
Regarding Italy and the virus – older population, often living in multi-generational households (so younger people with more social contacts brought the virus into the home) is one of them. The first case was in Rome, Chinese tourist, end of Jan, but the epidemic didn’t flare up until mid February in Lombardy. Medical services were slow to react, government slow to lock down. When we were there, schools were shut down, resulting in many teenagers going skiing instead! So much for social distancing!
Flu vaccines are completely different. Every year the WHO looks at the most frequent strains of influenza in the southern hemisphere during their winter (May – July) and picks 3 or 4 of them for manufacturers to produce a vaccine. Sometimes they get it right, and there isn’t a major outbreak, but occasionally the vaccine given to Europeans in Oct/Nov is useless against the strain of flu present in the population.
We knew viral pandemics could happen, but when flu vaccine was being manufactured last year, there wasn’t a hint of the future coronavirus epidemic.
I doubt that they will risk adding this coronavirus strain to the standard flu vaccine for the coming autumn. But this might be feasible in the future. We probably won’t have an effective coronavirus vaccine by the end of 2020, despite what President Trump says. And we don’t know how long it will provide protection. Flu vaccine protection starts to wane (especially in older people) after 3 months. And the virus might mutate, and become resistant.

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