A Butcher, a Baker....
|Campo Santa Margherita|
150 years ago the American writer, William Dean Howells, published Venetian Life, an entertaining and informative account of the three years he spent in the city as the American consul. In the book he observes that:
"Each campo in Venice is like a little city, self-contained and independent. Each has its church...and each within its limits compasses an apothecary's shop, a mercer's and draper's shop, a blacksmith's and shoemaker's shop, a cafe...a green-grocer's and fruiterer's...While without a barber's shop no campo could preserve its integrity or inform itself of the social and political news of the day."
Today, the only campo to live up to such a description is the Campo Santa Margarita in Dorsoduro, which also happens to be my own stamping ground. In addition to cafes and restaurants galore, we have a newspaper kiosk, a bank, a pharmacy (and an erboristeria), three fruit and vegetable stalls, two fish stalls, a butcher's shop, a bookshop (of sorts), a bakery, a hardware shop, a wine shop and a toy shop. I could go on. Ironically the parish church, which is often the only facility to survive in most other campi, has been turned into an auditorium. And, sadly, there is no barber's shop.
However, it must be pointed out that when Howells wrote Venetian Life the city had a population of about 130,000, today it is only 56,000.