Venice in Capitola

Of all the beautiful places in California, Capitola is a hidden gem. Nestled between the Pacific and the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Capitola-by-the-Sea is home to some ten thousand permanent residents and a few hundred more on summer weekends when the techies from the Silicon Valley hop over the mountains and swarm the beaches of Santa Cruz County where Capitola is located. Less famous and touristy than its cousins, Monterey and Carmel to the South and Santa Cruz to the North, Capitola is a quaint and funky village where neighbors enjoy free concerts on the beach, the Begonia Festival, excellent international cuisine and the best ice-cream.

In the heart of Capitola Village, at the mouth of the Soquel Creek, is the Venetian Court, a complex of condominiums and hotel that opened almost ninety years ago, more precisely in 1924. More Lido by geography and Burano by choice of colors, the place hides a few connections to La Serenissima in the carved wooden doors and the irreverent patera. Everything is a little crude and always colorful here.
The Venetian Court was the first condominium complex in a beach resort in California.

Today the Capitola Venetian, is the hotel side of the Venetian Court.

The Soquel Creek.

In case you wonder, the lion is reading a different book.

Gondolas by the wharf?  I still have to see them.

Lord Byron couldn't be absent:

"I stood in Venice on the Bridge of Sighs
A palace and a prison on either side."

I love how the woodcarver, Alan Thorpe, improved on Byron's poetry. In fact it sounds better than the original:

"I stood in Venice on the Bridge of Sighs

 A palace and a prison on each hand."

And I positively love how the Doge's Palace and the Basilica have merged into one, but on the wrong side of each other.

The place is not without charm.

Especially if you consider the references to works of fiction set in Venice: Othello, The Tales of Hoffmann and Death in Venice.

Othello and Desdemona at their happiest. The mushrooms at the foot of the tree are precious.

The rendition of Giulietta, the courtesan, who seduces Hoffmann into giving her his reflection is beyond compare.
So is her crooked mentor, Captain Dapertutto, the man wearing the plague mask.

I love how the peephole was placed in Tadzio's eye. Pardon me, but they should have put two peepholes.

And the California condor?... Priceless.

Dolphins, griffins and unidentified animals are common patera themes.

Even the floodgates are colorful!!

The city is friendly, open minded and absolutely low key.

The Great Morgani, a local treasure, is testament to that.

Capitola has no claims to the capital or the Capitol. Contrary to what the name suggests, it never intended to be the capital of California or of anything. In fact, for the first seventy years of its life, it was not even a city. It was born as Camp Capitola in 1874, a seaside resort for the people of the Santa Clara Valley (today Silicon Valley). Its claim to fame is that in 1961 it was attacked by flocks of angry birds, a story that inspired Alfred Hitchcock, a regular visitor to the area, to create his masterpiece "The Birds". However, the movie was not shot in Capitola but in Bodega Bay, some 120 miles to the North.