Fiction writers glean ideas for character descriptions by various means. If you’re a writer who enjoys sitting in a public location and scribbling notes on passersby, my recommendation for the primo spot to garner a wealth of character traits is Piazza San Marco, in Venice, Italy. Likewise, the Piazza is also the idea place for artists to gather reference material for figurative paintings and portraiture.
By noon until the wee-morning hours, every conceivable facial feature and physical trait can be observed in the non-stop crush of visitors from all corners of the globe.
There are three outside cafes that I recommend for optimum people gazing: The Florian; The Quadri; and my favorite, The Chioggia. I prefer the Chioggia for two reasons: one, they play great jazz, and two, because it faces the side of the Piazza where visitors enter after disembarking at the Vaporetto Stop. This way you capture their expressions when they view the Piazza for the first time. Thomas Coryat wrote of this experience: “…For so strange and rare a place as this, glory of it, that my first entrance thereof it did amaze or rather ravish my senses.”
Certainly, the travel guides will caution that sitting at an outside table in Piazza San Marco can be costly, but it’s not over the top, especially considering what you get for that 18 Euro Strega. If you wish, you can sit and sip the same drink for 4 or more hours, and you’re sitting where Shelley said: “It’s temples and palaces did seem like fabrics of enchantment piled to heaven.” Give me a break; does it get any better than that? And to top it off, you get to chronicle the expression on someone’s face whose senses have been ravished.
If you’re really on the dole, you can pack a snack to munch with your drink. The waiter may give you a “look,” but he won’t ask you to leave, nor will he hustle you to buy another drink. If you explain that you’re a writer or an artist doing research, he will turn the vexed “look” into a broad understanding smile; Italians love artists, poets, and writers.
When you do call it a night, be a gracious guest and don’t stiff the waiter or the band.
Most of the time, I prefer painting buildings to painting people. They tend not to fidget or complain or change expressions. The deserted calle in this painting is tucked away just a few steps from the tourist-choked Piazza San Marco.
The original acrylic painting on Pintura canvas board can be purchased in my Italian Architecture Gallery on my art website: http://www.pamelaallegretto-franz.com
Giclee prints from greeting card size to poster size can be purchased at my print site: http://pamela-allegretto.fineartamerica.com