Much has been written about Venice. Nearly two thousand years worth of words artfully combined and crafted by masters like Voltaire, Casanova, Shakespeare, Thomas Mann and Marcel Proust. Italians and foreigners alike, inspired by a place unlike any other. Then there’s the music: choruses, orchestras, solos, instrumentals; an entire style developing there. Let’s certainly not forget the art and architecture. Canvases originated in Venice. The influence of Byzantine and Ottoman architectural styles combined with the Gothic style created the unique Venetian Gothic style. Venetian Rococo interior design. Venetian glass. Venetian cuisine. Seemingly every form of human expression has been influenced, refined and/or expanded by this place. What could I possibly say about such a place that you haven’t already heard or seen?
Regardless of all you may read, hear, sea or eat – none of it will prepare you for the actual experience of being in Venice. Walking along the canals. Hearing the quiet sound of water nearly everywhere you go. The views of boats bobbing alongside grandiose cathedrals, gorgeous gothic buildings and the occasional mega cruise ship dwarfing them all as it passes just outside of the Grand Canal. The scents of fresh bread, pastries and meats being prepared alongside the damp scents of trash, cigarette smoke and urine. The soreness you will feel after walking for miles alongside these wondrous things and the deep sense of satisfaction you’ll get after finding a quiet corner along the canal and watching a solitary gondola float by – just a shaft of fading sunlight illuminating the handsome gondolier piloting his craft, perhaps on his way home after a long day of peddling his skills. The beauty of this place is undeniable, absolutely unquestionable, but it’s power to fascinate comes on quietly, slowly, taking root and growing deep in the soul.
Yes, there are thousands of tourists here and their presence is bound to annoy and frustrate but they are also easily avoided. The thousands of Italians who live here avoid them every day. Just take their lead; avoid the main thoroughfares and seek out the quiet corners of the city. One day Raquel and I were doing our best to get as lost as possible in the maze of canals and alleys and being quite successful at it I might add. We stumbled onto a square surrounded almost completely by locals. Children playing (real) football and shouting happily. Parents sitting and chatting on benches. Teenagers enjoying an afternoon gelato and perhaps a kiss with their love if the moment was right. There in the middle of the square was a huge puddle – more like a little lake. Reflecting the buildings around it and the children playing alongside it. To me, it summarized so completely the essence of Venice. Light, humanity and water. Mixing together to create something so much greater than the sum of each of it’s parts. Quite simply, life is very, very beautiful in Venice. Right up there next to Paris. One of my favorite places on earth.