Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 14-21 Oct; Cluj, Oradea, Bucharest and Vienna

Brasov Sun 14-Oct-56:  Saw the magnificent Biserica Neagu – the Black church – built 800 years ago – Driver of car missing all day – were to go on to Cluj – but didn’t.
Mon 15-Oct-56: Left at 8am for Cluj. Met an ethnologist Nicolae Dunare & went out near Oradea to a peasant potters house
Tue 16-Oct-56:   Met sculptor and two artists, discussed social realism. Returned to Bucharest arriving 1:30am. Got letters from home.
Wed 17-Oct-56: Went to Institute & talked with Baranga. Got presents, bought some records, had dinner with Charles & Victor.
Thu 18-Oct-56:  Cashed £5. Left Bucharest at 8am. Arrived Vienna about 1pm. Changed flight booking to 21 Nov. Phoned dear little Dorothy.
Fri 19-Oct-56:     Just wandered around all day – got pyjamas back from Stephanie Hotel [Hotel Stefanie]. Met Dr & Mrs Edgley & had dinner with Mrs E. at a Russian place. Was invited to stay with them!
Sat 20-Oct-56:   Went to Edgley’s and stayed. Was driven to Vienna Woods. Played Scrabble. Paid hotel, phone, rail fare. Cashed £7 & £10
Sun 21-Oct-56:  Visited art museum & large picnic park where we had lunch. Had dinner at the Balkan Grill.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0057

Romanische [Roemischer] Kaiser Hotel
Annagasse 1 Wien [ Annagasse 16]
Sat 20 Oct 56

My darling girl.

It’s about 7.30am and is a bit on the cool side. I got out of bed ¾ hour ago as I found little comfort there. Now if I was out on the front verandah at 85 I reckon I could show you a thing or two. There’s nothing much to look at here. My old machinery is getting out of practice. But my thoughts are ardent – and, I hope acceptable. As all this doesn’t help one little bit. I suppose I had best carry on with the historical & geographical aspects of this one man caravanserie. But truly, I do miss you so very much. I’m getting a bit tired of gazing at churches, & public monuments, parks, rivers, street names, traffic policemen, food shops, dress shops, German phrase books, city maps, handfuls of all sorts of currency and foreign menus. I am not tired of looking at girls or book shops, although it is my much considered opinion that the latter are of much better quality. It seems surprising how few top line sorts one sees in Europe – so far. However, talking about that is preferable to writing. The book shops here are very good – really go in for art publications with German thoroughness, but I dare say that in Paris & London I shall find them as good – probably better. I have only just realised that my last letter to you was posted from Orasul Stalin in Rumania last Sunday. God, knows when you will receive it – possibly after this one. I have been a bit too busy travelling to give you much of myself. I did get a kick out of ringing you in Sydney and even if the connection was bad, we did manage to make some real contact. It was nice to hear you sweetie, although for the life of me, I can’t remember anything much about it except the important items of date of return – seeing the Edgleys – giving you the tip off to write c/o Roley Pullen, and hearing Graham too. I bet he gave the schoolboys & the neighbours an earbashing about a telephone call from Vienna. I hope you felt I was loving you very much. Because I was. I didn’t get the address of the street too well – so went to a travel agency & with their help found the Australian Commission’s premises. Edgley was away at Linz – and was due back at 6pm Friday. About 6.30 I rang his wife – she was delighted to hear a dirty old Australian accent & insisted I catch a cab straight out, which I did & while trying to find out, with my filthy German, which house they lived in – the doctor arrived home. Only to find his youngest child, a girl of 2 ½ down with pneumonia. Mrs E wanted to dine out, so papa stayed home to look after sick child. They have invited me to stay with them for the day or two before I leave for Paris. Quite a lively couple – she is 6 months gone again – making it her 3rd. They are getting pretty sick of the climate here – but have to stay on another 12 months or so.

The Black Church in Orasul Stalin (Brasov), Romania; 13 October 1956

This rushing around is tiring and confusing – for the life of me I can’t remember where I was up to in my travels. Did I tell you about a beautiful old church in Orasul Stalin. It was over 800 years old. The stone of its exterior quite fretted away like rocks by the sea, so dark grey as to have occasioned its name of Biserica Neagra which means Black Church. It was very big and the interior all around the bottom end where the altar was placed was painted white. The towering shafts of stone appeared to radiate a purity of light – the altar itself nicely proportioned & with just the right amount of gold. It gave me rare pleasure. That white – unbelievably effective. The churches in Vienna, are even blacker in surface appearance – and more huge. But inside is all the original grey aged stone – & the effort is gloomy. The old black church had spirit – plus buoyancy. The maniacal driver managed to bash a mud guard in & that held us up for ½ day at O. Stalin. On the Monday morning we took off for Cluj at 8am. Transylvania! A country in everyone’s imagination – full of werewolves, bats, vampires and horrifying mysteries. Ruritania – with princes on sombre missions. Pine trees – dark recesses of the mountains & snow. And the whole damn place looks more like Australia than anything I have seen since I left home. It is a twin to the Monaro district. Autumnal brown grass rolling slopes, very few trees, and the Alps in the distance. Tell Price Jones to tear the word Transylvania out of his accumulated imaginings. It just ‘aint so. I am afraid I disappointed Mrs Edgley, too, with my account of it. Visited a vineyard on the way up & had a couple of quick snorts. They seem to only make white wines up here & pretty sour Riesling at that. Crumby stuff – which everyone drinks with soda water. Breaks your flaming romantic heart. To save something from the wreck you can tell Bill that the peasants do wear white trousers & white aprons – with great shaggy sheep skins coats to cover. They do carry long sticks & lead the flocks to various pastures. The only thing that was un-Australian was the complete & utter lack of fences anywhere. The peasants all live in clustered houses in the villages & at early morning set out in their carts drawn by horses or oxen for their plot which may be anywhere between one village & the next. Apparently they know their own ground backward & there is no dispute as to where one man’s lot begins & ends. The peasants give their stock (sheep or cattle) to the shepherd & he takes them all out to grass.

Believed to be at a studio for artists and sculptors in Cluj, Romania; 15 October 1956
Unknown artist at work. believed to be at a studio for artists and sculptors in Cluj, Romania; 15 October 1956

Met some artists and sculptors in Cluj. They were being very well done by. Storybook studios & apparently adequate money. Also met a director of a folk lore museum who suggested we nick out & see some peasant potters. We did so – found out, was about 35 miles out. Practically on the Hungarian border – near a town named Oradea. Quite interesting. Next day returned to Bucharest – got in about 1.30am.

Possibly taken at Wep’s final meeting with the Director of the Cultural Institute (Institutul Romin Pentru Relatiile Culturale cu Strainatea), Bucharest, Romania; 17 October 1956

Had a meeting with the director of the Institute. All very amiable. Asked what I thought about Rumania, what I didn’t like, etc. Received a present of a little bit of folk art. An old Rumanian custom I gather. Was happy to be able to reciprocate with the books. When I got back to the pub – found that more books & records had arrived. Such was the enormous weight of books – the Institute are sending them out. I hope they all arrive safely. Was explained to me that the early departure was due to the fact that it was the only booking they could get me before the Olympics.

All very pleasant – a great pity the country is so poor. Also wrote a little piece about Australian art & did a short talk for the air, this they took on tape in the hotel room. Heard it played back.

Got to Vienna about 12 noon. Where I thought to let you know immediately. Got the bright idea of ringing – not much more than a cable. To confirm our talk – I catch a BOAC plane at Zurich on 21st Nov. at 10.30pm & should arrive in Sydney on Sunday 25 at 7.20am. You can insure me for the trip if you like. I was shocked to read in a German magazine – I stumbled through it in German – of the unfortunate crash of the Vulcan Bomber as it returned to London. It is now 9am. I better dress & have some rolls & coffee.

Picnic with Dr Robert Edgley and family at Franzensburg Castle in the grounds of Schloß Laxenburg, Vienna; 21 October 1956
Picnic with Dr Robert Edgley and family at Franzensburg Castle in the grounds of Schloß Laxenburg, Vienna; 21 October 1956
Picnic with Dr Robert Edgley and family at Franzensburg Castle in the grounds of Schloß Laxenburg, Vienna; 21 October 1956

Sunday [21 Oct 1956]. 3pm. I am sitting in a lovely park out of Vienna. In the middle is the Franzensberg Castle built by Franz Joseph early last century. The castle is set in the middle of a fine artificial lake which has no water in it. The autumn trees are beautiful colours & in the distance a group of school girls are singing. The weather is most indulgent. A mild gentle setting sun. The Edgley girl made a magnificent recovery, playing like mad in the trees behind us. We had a picnic lunch.

Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts), Vienna; 21 October 1956
Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts), Vienna; 21 October 1956

Went to the Vienna gallery [Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts)] this morning & saw many fine paintings including Tintoretto’s Susanna & the Elders, Holbein’s Jane Eyre [Jane Seymour], Vermeer’s famous Painter & model. Wonderful Titians and 14 Brueghels. Pity I am leaving in the morning but I suppose I had better move on. Paris & London will take time. I telegrammed Roley Pullen to ask him to get me some cheap accommodation – I am going in the Arlberg Express from Vienna to Paris – via Zurich. Leaves at 9.10 in the morning & arrives Paris 8am the next day. Fare is about £7-10.0 against £17.10 by plane – also I will see up to the Alps in daylight. I stayed with the Edgleys last night & tonight – they seem to be a very happy coupe with two nice little girls. The Viennese are wandering up and down the lake – Yesterday, Rob took me for a drive through the Vienna Woods.

I shall have to finish now as we are about to return to Vienna, and I want to post this letter before I leave in the morning. Lots of love my darling. Give Graham my love & a pat for Trellie. Tell him I liked receiving his letters. I hope he gets all the different stamps that are coming over. A big thing for you. XXXXX for all. Your old loving roue [?]

Bill

[Apparently Wep’s visit to Romania was cut short as the people in the Institute wanted to get him out before trouble over flowed in Hungary. Five days after leaving Romania, widespread revolt erupted in Hungary against the Soviet backed government leading to its fall from power. On November 4, the Soviets invaded, crushing the revolt, and by November 10, all resistance had ceased.]

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View from the Carpati Hotel overlooking Nicolae Titulescu, Orasul Stalin (Brasov); 14 October 1956
Primaria Brasov (Town Hall), Bulevardul Eroilor 8, Brasov, Romania; 14 October 1956 (Note the possible KGB agent in the light trenchcoat)
Looking southwest towards Biserica Catolica outside 28 Strada Muresenilor, Brasov, Romania; 14 October 1956
Piata Cuza Voda with the Catedrala Ortodoxa (Orthodox Cathedral) in the background, Aiud, Romania; 15 October 1956
Cetatea Aiudului, Aiud, Romania; 15 October 1956
Cetatea Aiudului, Aiud, Romania
Cetatea Aiudului, Aiud, Romania
Cetatea Aiudului, Aiud, Romania; 15 October 1956
Cetatea Aiudului, Aiud, Romania; 15 October 1956
Piata Cuza Voda with the Catedrala Ortodoxa (Orthodox Cathedral) in the background, Aiud, Romania; 15 October 1956
Piata Unirii, Cluj, Romania; 15 October 1956
Orthodox Cathedral, Cluj, Romania; 15 October 1956
Orthodox Cathedral, Cluj, Romania; 15 October 1956
Strada Regele Ferdinand 8, Cluj, Romania; 15 October 1956
Strada Regele Ferdinand 33, Cluj, Romania; 15 October 1956
Votivkirche (Votive Church) viewed from near Schottengasse 9, Vienna; 19 October 1956

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Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 28-30 Sep; Venice and Munich – inspirational artworks

Fri 28-Sep-56: Got lost all day but managed to see the Tintorettos at Scuola di S. Rocco. Cashed £5
Sat 29-Sep-56: Cashed £2 Left 10:30am for Münich. Had a wonderful flight over the Alps. No room. Am in guesthouse 13kms from München. Grünwald quite full. Cashed £5 in Marks.
Sun 30-Sep-56: Went by train to city. Saw Alte Pinakothek Old Masters – magnificent show. Many people at Grünwald – had dinner with Dittmar & family.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0015

Hotel Regina, Venice
Venezia Friday
[28 Sep 1956]
8pm before dinner

Little Sweetie,

I’m not very happy about bringing you back anything in the woolly line from Italy. It’s nothing but thick woolly cardigans because of the approaching winter I suppose and as far as shopping via window there is little to be seen. Really few of the attendants understand English & you can’t get anywhere much. Once or twice, I’ve managed to ask about a thingummy I liked but in a different colour. But as it happens they haven’t got it. Then again I didn’t want to go too high because 34” doesn’t mean much of a thing here. From what I can gather you are a 46 Italiano. That is at it may be. You’d better send me care of the Rumanian address your measurements in centimetres. That metal flexible ruler of mine is calibrated in centimetres under the ins. mark. Let me know other measurements. It’s sad, but it hasn’t been a lack of trying. I do hope to get you something nice somewhere. To tell the truth nothing I have seen has been a patch on that one of yours with the crossed over neck line. I miss you very much.

I managed to get someone’s cancellation flight to Munich & leave at 8.30-am in the morning. So that I am still keeping up to schedule. It doesn’t look like I can stay overnight in Budapest because I don’t think I can get any Hungarian currency. The dopey coots in Sydney endorsed the Travellers Cheques for Rumania only. This was purely an oversight because my passport OKs me for Hungary as well. So there, perhaps on the way back I may stay one day with Rumanian currency.

Anyway I’ve had the dutiful tramping around, being the best poor quarter finder in the world. I don’t know how it is but as soon as I start walking I finish up in the poorest area. How is this? I do know that I haven’t got a clue as to direction in the Northern hemisphere. Naturally down south you walk away from the sun to go south. Up here you have to face it. Plus the fact that there is a different velocity influence on the human balance. As in the South pole, people lost, always walk to the right & in the North pole area to the left (or vice versa, if I must be corrected). Christ I got soured this afternoon. Three times I finished up in the same end of the island, and it was not until I told myself my instinct for direction was arsy-boo that I got anywhere. I told myself (just like you would, in any emergency) to walk towards the sun. And do you know it worked! After one hour I was back to tors.

But thank God for big blessings. As I was lost in the morning I stumbled across the Scuola di S. Rocco (or something) [Scuola Grande di San Rocco], the church or palace in which are housed the finest Tintorettos paintings. They were on the heroic Italian scale – enormous & hard to see because of the light coming through the windows alongside them. Oh but what pictures. No reproduction could do justice to the wonderful subdued luminosity & grandiose virility of these really wonderful paintings. It is unbelievable that a human, one human could have conceived & carried through these huge and moving works. Everything was in them – humanity, wonderful abstraction. Lines of movement, colour & attitude, all the source from which El Greco got his thing. (By the way I saw two El Greks in Rome & Holbein & one Titian). I could if I was full, & alone, & without the TV, go on for hours about the Tintorettos. When I see that book of mine again together with the pamphlet I bought at the gallery (which cost me the same as my theoretical cheap lunch), I shall know what I know.

Enough for now. The last letter – must have been on awful heavy paper cost 4/9 to post, 480 lire to you. I shall see you (i.e. write to you), my dear, in Munich. I really missed you and needed you with me when I sat down in St Mark’s Square & had a beer. All Venice seemed to be walking around and the deepening blue of the night was showing up the red & white topped Campanile. Behind it a wedding cake joint of a church with gilt facings, pigeons flying around, lights under each of the hundreds of marble arches – people in chairs – people walking, & bowings & God knows what – with 3 different top class 5 pieces Restaurant orchestras playing to their clients in the open square. And the blue getting deeper and deeper as the white marble cake got greener & the great spire smouldered strong like a Fred. I can never tell you how I felt about it. Pictures won’t – what will. Perhaps one night with the help of a 25 lire postcard I may give you some idea. But then these vicarious jaunts can be boring.

I’m finished – for the second time I’m seeing everything. The first time in Italian – Charlie’s Aunt on television – I am looking at now – Goodnight darling.

Panorama and Rialto Bridge, Venice
Panorama and Rialto Bridge, Venice
St Mark Square and Dock from the aeroplane, Venice
St Mark Square and Dock from the aeroplane, Venice
Palazzo Ducale, Venice
Palazzo Ducale, Venice
Chiese della Satute, Venezia
Chiese della Satute, Venezia
Hotel Regina marked out on back by Wep where he stayed
Hotel Regina marked out on back by Wep where he stayed
Hotel Regina marked out on back by Wep where he stayed
Hotel Regina marked out on back by Wep where he stayed

8.30pm Saturday [29 Sep 1956]

I am in Munich or to be more truthful 13 kilometres out of it. There was no hotel booking & to cut a very hard luck story short, I am where I am.

Tannenhof Guesthouse, Marktplatz, Grünwald; 30 September 1956
Tannenhof, Marktplatz, Grünwald; 30 September 1956
View of Marktplatz from Tannenhof Guesthouse, Grünwald; 30 September 1956

Dearest darling don’t hammer me! For the first time in my life, I’m full in Germany. As you always say – things turn out for the best? When I arrived in Munich – München – I wandered up & down two blocks carrying all the garbage I possess, finally ran aground the C.I.T. agent. Of course he had never heard of me, & it was impossible (with a capital IMPOSSIBLE) to get accommodation in München. He had never heard of me or anything connected with Australia. However, he very kindly drove me (and his son) all the way out to a guesthouse – which is beautifully appointed & which I seem to have the bridal suite. Two nice loving single beds tight alongside each other with the sheets short sheeted on the sneaking-in side. Very nice, but I am 13,000 long miles off….

P.S. at this stage I went to sleep.

Dorothy darling,

Don’t take too much notice of the preceding page. Anyway it gave me the best & longest sleep I’ve had since leaving Australia. It is Sunday evening at 6.30pm and I have spent 4 hours of my one day in Munich in the Haus der Kunst (or Art Gallery). Can you imagine seeing 30 odd Rubens in one blow, about 10 Rembrandts, some Tintoretto, Velasquez, Titian, Goya, Giotto, Van der Weyden – the works. Wore me out it did – no eats or beer all day. Travelled all across Munich in the trams & spoke German like you imagine I would – Anyway, I got there & back. 3 different trams each way. I’ll tell you later about the wonderful pictures. From Vienna I am sending by book post some odds & ends of travel folders & things plus the catalogue of this show. I don’t want to build up my weight on plane travelling. It is possible I will be home before them – It seems so long ago since I left that time is unaccountable.

Looking southwest along the Isarwerkkanal near the Schlosshotel Grünwald; 30 September 1956
Schloß Grünwald built in 1293, Grünwald, Germany; 30 September 1956
Schlosshotel Grünwald, Zeillerstraße 1, 82031, Grünwald, Germany just a short walk down the road from where Wep was staying at the Tannenhof Guesthouse; 30 September 1956

I don’t care much for Munich. It gives me the feeling of a grey stone prison. Despite the fact you always say things turns out for the best – they have here. This morning at 6.30 I went for a walk around Grünwald where I am staying. It means ‘Green Forest’ and is very lovely spot with silver beeches, & pines & plane trees thick & tall around the river Isar. Green & fresh & lovely. With a castle – and church bells (It is Sunday) and beautifully quiet then – restful. When I came home (every room you have is that important) there were thousands of people in Grunewald. There are a lot of beer gardens around here and they were all full of people, well behaved and drinking enormous things of beer. Grunwald must be something like Manly, everyone comes out here for a day in the forest & a beer & a bite before getting back to the barrack like city. Really choice here. Don’t take any notice of any illiteracy or lack of polish in these letters. All I want to do is talk to you. Not going too well am I, after only a week? I guess it’s the complete absence of conversation, It should be a lesson to me.

I leave here in the morning and will be on the way to Vienna where I know I’ll have more bloody trouble! I’ll have to alter the flight plan, because of that currency bother. And I suppose there will be no accom. & mod cons. I don’t know whether I mentioned that this fortnight in Munich is the annual Sep-Oct Autumn Festival – a very big affair – because this is the best & most reliable weather op the year. There’s no accommodation available. Things are like Sydney at Show time except this is mostly culture. Ballet, opera, concerts, art, etc, etc. Sport too. Included in the pile of trash I am sending back is the Festival programme which I can interpret well enough. I love you. I am going out again to get myself a beer & a bite. This seven dwarfs like darling establishment serves no meals. Last night I had a schnitzel in batter & potato salad & about a schooner of superb beer for less than 10/-. This Sunday afternoon before I came up to the room I had a big beer. Must have been more than a bottle & half for 3/-. It was served in a glass about as tall as a bottle & half again as wide. Lovely. Cheers me up no end and what is more, makes me very fond of you, you old dragon.

It has got a bit cold and I have put your dear woolly jumper on.

I don’t know what to write to Graham – fob him off with the information in these letters please. I did want to buy him a funny postcard here but the shop is shut. Give him my love and keep me in mind yourself.

Lots of love from your Bill.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0025

P.S. The CIT agent who drove me here turned up after I had finished this letter. He, and family, apparently live here. He asked me to be his guest at a Brau Haus or Wirt haus (means beer house – but they serve very good food & plenty of it.) So I accept. He and his family were very gracious. His son is learning English at school. They had just returned from a 400 mile trip to the Austrian Alps. When I asked him on Sat what the charge was likely to be he said about 20 marks which I thought was cheap. Now I find they want 40. That means I have to cash more Travellers Cheques. I would rather spend them on the way home – I don’t know what is ahead of me. If I have my fare back fixed up, I know where I am. I think I am being clipped. I tell you if I had a month in Europe nobody would do me more than the next. It is not that I don’t want to spend the damn money – I want to get you & Graham something for it! Oh, pull your big head in. This extra page is not for you – I’m just having a good honest to God whinge about anything that is around. And if you feel tough too, I will never sleep with you again.

How are you? How are your poor old limbs? Auf wiedersehen.

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder” as they say in the classics & fonder & fonder & fonder.

And so to Vienna.

WW2 bomb damaged Bayerische Staatsregierung, home of the Bavarian Government, Munich; 30 September 1956
Munich; 30 September 1956
Munich; 30 September 1956
Munich; 30 September 1956
Sankt Lukas Kirche in the distance on Mariannenplatz, taken from Maximilliansbrucke, Munich; 30 September 1956

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Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 27 Sep; Venice – Hotel Regina, dinner with a view

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0008Thu 27-Sep-56: Left Rome about 3pm after cancelling early trip. Got luggage in from Karachi. Arrived Venice about 5:30pm. Trouble about accommodation. Cashed £5

CIGA Hotel Regina, Venezia (Wouldn’t it!)

IMG_4364
View of the Hotel Regina, Venice; 13 December 2013

[History of the Hotel Regina]

Wed night  [actually Thursday]

27 Sep 56

Happily my bag arrived intact & with a great steel band around it, to protect it from the thieving Pakistanis, and Italianos. It was cleared off only about an hour before the plane for Venice took off.

Had a good trip, less than two hours & landed on these little mounds of earth that just show above the sea level. The area looks very small from the air – what made it tick & why, I hope to find out. Nowadays it is quite obviously tourists. There are thousands of the beasts. Seems like a fair percentage of Americans as is fit, I suppose, because who else could stand this clip joint racket for long.

(If I sound a bit disjointed in parts – blame the screaming quiz show in Italiano which is disrupting the peace & quiet. The reproduction photographically is good – but the ensemble with talk is beyond me.)

The Orbit travel service has let me down badly in the matter of hotel bookings. In both Rome & here the bookings weren’t confirmed & in Venice there is no such hotel as they named. What with the millions of tourists here I had no option but to take the single room & bath C.I.T. the biggest Italian agency (to whom Orbit referred me) managed to get for my stopover. To make things easier I am not on the plane to Munich on the 29th. I have to ask again tomorrow to see if there has been any cancellations. How does one get out of here? Swim? I have a very fancy room in a second class hotel (for here) & a magnificent bathroom, complete with bidet (unused).

Dinner at the Hotel Regina, Venice; 27 September 1956
Looking at Santa Maria della Salute across the Grand Canal from the Hotel Regina; 27 September 1956
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Santa Maria della Salute; 15 December 2013

I had dinner seated on the edge of the canal, with gondolas parked alongside, and a fine view of the Santa Maria church just a hundred yards or so across the canal. All very dashing and fetching if you were here with me. Mostly, I’m sitting there chewing my nails & wondering how many 1000 lire a minute it is all ripping off the roll. I can’t get the hang of the way they bash your wallet in this country. They ask if you want full pension or half pension – which is about 1/6th cheaper. For half pension you have only two meals, breakfast & dinner or lunch. As you still have to pay separately for each of these meals, I don’t get it. The govt. taxes the bill total, which makes it extra – & having your meal brought to you apparently necessitates a service charge & so it goes on – HORRIFYING!

St Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco), Venice; 27 September 1956
St Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco), Venice; 27 September 1956
IMG_0728
St Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco), Venice; 13 December 2013
IMG_4569
St Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco), Venice; 15 December 2013
St Mark’s Basilica in St Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco), Venice; 27 September 1956
St Mark’s Basilica in St Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco), Venice; 31 December 2015

I can’t tell you much about Venice as by the time I had a shower & changed into fresh clothes it was too dark for me to begin an exploratory tour. I sort of tied a mental string around my waist & did a round of the block – or I mean where the block ought to be. St Mark’s Square, another example of Italian grandiosity – a massive open area with a very ancient church at its end & a huge campanile sort of thing alongside it. You may recollect hearing of the pigeons on the square. Just after dinner a combined drive of gondolas came past, accompanying a gaudily decorated barge with colored lights & professional serenaders singing into a flaming microphone full blast. How these Italians like noise. Gondola blokes yelling at each other like fish wives. It is still very beautiful despite the commercialisation. Delightful to have your meal in the open, pleasant lights, linen, good service – nice cool night – It could be done well in Sydney in some sheltered spot.

Later)

A funny thing just happened. After dutifully washing shirts & underwear & hanging same up on a cord which was attached to some thing over the bath, I was rudely awakened from my mediations on the can by a knocking on the door. On opening up – a chamber maid about 50 something agitatedly asked me some foreign questions & upon getting no reply came into the room & started mucking about with a switch beside the bedside light. All of the time nicking out of the front door to look at something. To no avail apparently. Back she nips into my odoriferous bathroom and a sigh of relief asks me to take the shirt off the cord over the bath. Seems like dear Willy hung his shirt on the cord you pull for help if you get stuck in the tub, etc. The ringing of bells ceased & the red light over my door miraculously went out on disengagement of the shirt. – What would they do without me?

6.45am Friday [28 Sep 1956].  A very nice bed to sleep on. In Italy the shops open at 8.30am and the millions pour out of the apartments, rooms, etc. the traffic starts and the noise begins. This goes on till 1pm when they all seem to go home again. The real peak hour rush starts again at 4pm when really everyone in Rome must go out on the streets. It’s deafening & you get jostled off the footpaths, if busy, cars and buses scrap your ass, and the cafes are setting up for the open air meal hour of 7 to 9.30. The uproar continues until 8pm. Then all is relatively quiet again. Not that the place dies, nothing like it – merely the commercial shipping is over for the day. Down near the pub I stayed at there is a park square slightly bigger than Wynyard which was always full of cats. Dozens & dozens of them. I couldn’t work it out until yesterday at noon when I was returning to book out. It seems that from about 10 till 12 the place is turned into a Paddy’s Markets. Double rows of stalls forming a corridor all round the park spring into life. They are brought in & set up and shelter beneath their own huge umbrellas or canvas awnings. Everything conceivable is sold. The real attraction being the food vendors, I imagine. You should see those cheeses & sausages, vegetables of every description, great yellow capsicums, long thin tomatoes, red and white speckled beans, eggplants, mushrooms, strings of garlic, all supported by a host of the commoner varieties. Many, many meat stalls displaying the frowsiest carcasses. Lambs, miserable skinny things only about a yard long. Yellow scrawny chickens, all peck and legs – tripes & bellies and kidneys & god knows what from beast & fowl all somewhat on the nose. Fish stalls stand opposite the meat. Squids, long fish, thick fish, herrings, sardines, mussels, pippies, lobsters, crabs, prawns, and any edible spawn of the sea. The buying & selling goes no for about an hour, when at 12 everything is carted away again, leaving behind a colossal litter. Hence the cats. I guess they feed on the offal from the meat & fish boys.

I shall now take me down to my collazione and find out where I can have a gander at the Tintorettos with a fist full of lire I suppose. A look at a couple of dozen pictures at the Rome Gallery cost me 3/6.

Venice; 27 September 1956

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