(photo thanks to the FB group Infolirica operalibera)
One of my favorite memories of Christmas in my "old life" (pre-Venice days) was the annual picking out of the Christmas tree, strapping it to the top of the car, getting it home, setting it up and decorating. Some years we cut our tree down at a tree farm. I've even had a few years when the pets knocked the whole thing down a few times and it took tying the tree to the ceiling to get it to stay upright. That, dear readers, was nothing compared to what it takes to get the Christmas tree here in Venice.
If you wanted a live tree, the first task is to even find a place selling them. They don't have the Lions Club or Boy Scouts tree stands on every street corner. La Serra, the greenhouse, in Castello down near the Giardini has a few. Very small ones that fit on a tabletop, or ones maybe 4 feet high that are pretty scrawny. But alive, roots and all. I don't think anything like a cut, live tree exists anywhere around here, at least I have not seen them ever. Maybe they do out on the mainland.
Besides the task of getting a tree back to your apartment once you have bought it, you also have to consider how you will get rid of it once the holiday is over. Last year after Christmas someone planted their little tree in the park here in Sant'Elena. It promptly died.
Over on the Strada Nuova there is a small stand selling trees also. Same variety as those at La Serra. I also saw some last week at Ikea in Padua, very similar sizes. Of course, if you were buying one at Ikea a car would be required. Whenever I go to Ikea, it takes first a train, then a bus and finally a boat ride loaded down with all my purchases in a shopping cart to get back to Venice. I could never manage a tree, even a 4 foot one.
The guys in the photo above are lucky enough to have a boat to get their tree from point A to point B. I don't have a boat, so that wouldn't work for me either. Our first year over here, we didn't do a tree at all, because the logistics were just beyond us. The second year, we found ourselves missing a tree so much that we hauled ourselves by bus to the mainland, bought a large fake tree in a box, and had the fun of hauling the huge box back to Venice on a dolley. Thank goodness we only had to do that once! That was the first fake tree of my life, so you can imagine the kind of heart wrenching decision making that went into that purchase. Chalk it up to one more change this new life required.
So, while I wish for a live tree and will probably always wish for one, I don't think twice about it anymore. When it's Christmas, Mike makes a trip downstairs to our storage area, hauls the fake tree box up to the second floor (that's 3rd floor for all my friends in the US), and puts it together. Voila, instant tree. It's tall, which is great cause we have really tall ceilings. And it's full, with lots and lots of fake branches. Also good, cause I've never been a big fan of those Charlie Brown Christmas trees.
Trees at La Serra, about 4-5 feet tall, roots and all.