No, I haven’t been to Venice recently. The last time I went was the weekend after Thanksgiving 2012. I wanted to explore the city during the low season, if the tourist paradise even has a low season. There was a notoriously bad acqua alta that year, so a few weeks before I bought rain boots. I didn’t need them in Venice, though they did come in handy during the seemingly-endless winter in Pavia. But, I digress. I love Venice and you should too.
When I went to Italy with Experiment in International Living (my group is still on there!), I selfishly hoped that the day we were in Venice would be cloudy. I so wanted to see that famous city, the iconic Grand Canal, cloaked in a different light. In my mind, the tourist city didn’t exist in rain. Rain would give Venice a reality that it otherwise missed. Well, it did rain, much to my delight and everyone else’s chagrin. I loved it, but still felt the need to experience as close to the “real city” as I could.
And so I went to experience it in the cold and fog. I walked around until my toes froze, then dipped into a store or cafe to warm up and then walked outside some more. I managed to see a boat filling station, carnevale costume rental shop and several grocery stores. I got lost more times than I can count, but that might be because the whole point of my trip was to get lost.
I just finished reading Donna Leon’s My Venice and Other Essays and, after underlining every other sentence, I feel full of that magic that Venice creates in me. For me, Venice is a city of thought and imagination. It is the very essence of someplace else, that place you can never own, but have a feeling that someone might. It’s the place that is entirely captivating to observe, yet never lets you get too close.
Have you been to Venice, what did you think? Is there a city that captivates your imagination?