Yuko Shimizu
Tale of Four Canal Cities Part 1: Sleepy Chioggia and Venice Underwater
Venice in rain... still picturesque
Ten days after I came back from Mexico, I was on the road again. I got asked to judge a children’s book competition for aspiring illustrators in Italy. It took place last week in Chioggia, a not-so-popular little sister of Venice about 1 hour bus ride away. Despite canals and historic buildings you never see a tourist. And most of the hotels are closed during off season. A sleepy cute little town.
Best part of these judging trips (well, other than going on a trip, that is) is always about meeting cool new people. This time I became friends with some fantastic people including: illustrator and professor at SCAD Mohamed Danawi, Miriam Martinez of Fondo De Cultura Economica a publisher from Mexico, and a Venice-based illustrator Stefano Vitale who’s recent children’s book is a phenomenal Why War Is Never A Good Idea.
Miriam, Mohamed and me during judging
from Stefano's book: Why War Is Never A Good Idea.
It was pouring rain. Despite a free day in Venice after judging, everyone was in bad mood, REALLY bad mood. Venice is a town where cars are off limit and you have to walk everywhere. We were soaking wet from head to toe. Just when my mood was switching from bad to terrible, something magical happens: Aqua Alta! Venice’s famous high water. Stefano tells me I have to come see San Marco Square becoming a big lake.
Wellies, wellies, wellies! Stefano knows how to dress for Aqua Alta!
It was a surreal scene. I only knew San Marco as a big square filled with thousands of tourists with cameras and pigeons flying above. All that were gone. In the darkness of the night, the whole square was quietly sinking under water. A few cafes were open, with live violin playing and people were still enjoying drinks in terraces half under water. Just to see that changed my mood and memory of this trip 180 degrees.
I got my mood back, then flew up north to Amsterdam and Utrecht, other two canal cities. I will write about my workshop at Utrecht School of the Arts next time.
Rain or shine, never forget to check out a local book store! Italians sure know how to design.
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