Tag Archives: Venice

Through His Words: Day Twenty-Three (2nd letter)

23 May

Reflections From and About My Grandfather
Alexander Capraro, Architect


Hotel Europa E Britannia

August 7, 1938


 I arrived this morning about 11:30 on the fast train from Milan. It is almost unbelievable to see water where streets should be.

I remember feeling the exact sentiment the first time I visited Venice some 33 years after my grandfather. I still marvel at the engineering feat when I visit, despite the crowds and flooding.



Upon getting off the train, my luggage was immediately placed in a gondola and I had my first ride in a real gondola. We wound our way about 2 miles through narrow canals and finally came to the Grand Canal where my hotel is.

JM photo: blogginginitaly.com

JM photo: blogginginitaly.com

The charge was 13 liras or about $.65. It sure was worth it because it is hard work to row one of these things, a gondola being about 35 feet long.

That same ride would cost Alex over $160 today.



The hotel is a nice place, one of the best I have been in so far. It faces the Grand Canal and is 75 lira for room and meals ($3.75).

Now known as the Europa & Regina, Venice

Today known as the Europa & Regina, Venice

Luggage Tag © 1997-2013 International Poster Gallery

Luggage Tag © 1997-2013 International Poster Gallery

From the hotel’s website: During the autumn of 1908 it was here that the celebrated Impressionist painter Claude Monet stayed – a long visit in which he made the most of his talent with the magnificent views that the hotel offered. In a letter, dated October 16th, 1908, Mme. Monet wrote: “We have finally arrived at the Hotel Britannia, with a view, if such a thing were possible, even more beautiful than that of Palazzo Barbaro…

I was pretty dirty upon arriving here, smoke and soot from the train as well as perspiration due to the heat. It is pretty hot and I can look forward to a lot of hot weather from now on as I understand it is very hot in Florence, Rome, and Naples.

After having washed and changed and taken lunch, I went to the American Express with a feint hope that I might find a letter, but nothing doing. I was not surprised, however, because it was too soon for any mail to be forwarded from Milan. 

On the same day Alex was writing this letter, Maude was only just writing her first letter to him (previous post).

Well, I started upon my visit immediately as I will leave here tomorrow night for Bologna and Florence. I went to St. Mark’s Square, a picture you see many times in the States.


Family Photo: 2007: blogginginitaly.com

The cathedral is immense in its mosaic portraits.



The ceilings are all gold mosaic with lifelike figures of saints, etc. in very colored hues. Everything you see is a work of art done without thought of money or time. This cathedral was built in 832 and is now over 1100 years old. 1000 years doesn’t mean anything over here.

And then Alex has this random thought:

I’m just thinking I have been in several churches every day and prayed in all of them so I ought to be given some kind of special indulgence by the time I get through.

After St. Mark’s, I took a boat to the Lido and found it to be a sort of Atlantic city. As you know, this is on the Adriatic Sea, and I wanted to be able to say I bathed in the Adriatic. So, I rented a bathing suit and went in to get a few mouthfuls of saltwater. The place is miles long lined with cabanas and beautiful sandy beaches. With the weather being hot, I stayed a couple of hours in the water.

My hotel gave me a ticket which was good at a hotel on the Lido for dinner, so I had my dinner on a large veranda overlooking the sea and enjoyed my meal amid rosebushes and flowers of every description. One thing they have here a plenty is flowers.




I then took a boat back to St. Mark’s and found the Square full of little tables, people sitting and having coffee or gelato, all amid the strains of a half-dozen or more orchestras at various spots.

San Marco: blogginginitaly.com

San Marco:


2007: Enjoying gelato:blogginginitaly.com

2007: Enjoying gelato:blogginginitaly.com

2007: Enjoying the orchestras and vino: blogginginitaly.com

2007: Enjoying the orchestras and vino: blogginginitaly.com

I sat at a little table, had a cup of strong coffee, and am now back at my hotel writing some postcards and this letter to you. Tomorrow I shall take in other places of interest here in Venice, like The Doge’s Palace, and then leave about 6:00 PM.

JM Photo: blogginginitaly.com

The Doge’s Palace: JM Photo:blogginginitaly.com

I hope some mail will meet me here tomorrow as I’ll try the American Express office.

Unfortunately, Alex would be disappointed once again. 

Until then, good night and God bless you dear.

Loads of kisses and love.  Yours only, Al




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