I love Italy; the land, the food, the wine but most of all the people. Of all the cities that I have visited in Italy my favorite is Venice. To me, Venice is the greatest city to be lost in, especially on a rainy day. I should state up front that I am of Italian decent and being an Italian American is something of which I am extremely proud. Maybe that influences my feelings but then I am writing about my feelings. Let me now make my case in words and images of why I love this city.
Venice is sinking. You do not need to have a scientific mind to tell you this, leave it up to your ankles, your wet ankles. When you are walking in the beautiful Saint Mark's Square and you find yourself splashing like Gene Kelly in 'Singing in The Rain', you know Venice is sinking. The larger problem is that it maybe sinking faster than has been thought.
While I am not writing about Venice's problems, I did want to mention them because I think they help influence our attitude about this truly great city. While Venetians and tourists know that Venice's appeal is due to its undeniable beauty, some of the city's allure comes from the fact that it appears to be disappearing. I could not help but wonder if this helps fuel the citizens. For they seem a little aloof and you can almost see in their eyes a longing for years past and maybe a little sadness about what is to come, sadness but not depression, for above all they are Italians and while some may say Italians are moody (ask our wives) the moods do not last and before long they are singing and smiling with a glass of Vino in their hands.
Henry James once said, "Though there are some disagreeable things in Venice there is nothing so disagreeable as the visitors." With close to 20 million visitors a year, not all on their best behavior, Venetians can be forgiven for occasionally agreeing with James.
When we first arrived in Venice it was raining. Normally this would not be what you want when you visit a great city but in Venice it only seemed to enhance all the greatness of this city of bridges and Sighs. We asked the hotel for a restaurant within walking distance and were given directions. As we walked in the rain at night along the Grand Canal, I was struck by the beautiful uniqueness of Venice. With its Gothic and Byzantine palazzos appearing to float on the canals and lagoon, it is a magical sight to see.
We arrived at a Calle, a narrow street, pronounced CAH-lay in italian. We looked down this dark calle and laughed much like you might do before you plunge into the ocean, you know it is cold but you still plunge. Then we saw a small light coming from the wall and realized it was a cigarette being held by a man whose face you could not really see. As we approached, he saw us and went back inside the doorway closing it behind him. Somewhere I heard music playing a sad melody. We kept walking down the calle maybe at a little faster pace, maybe.
We saw what appeared to be a mother and daughter walking ahead of us and that made us feel a little more at ease. We then saw the restaurant and entered into what could have been someone's house. We were seated outside under an awning that protected us from the rain with a view of a smaller canal going by our table and out to the Grand Canal. Where else can you sit at your table and see this going through the intersection near you?
It was a cruise ship leaving Venice!! After great meal, I complimented our server, who was the co-owner along with his brother and we were then led into the kitchen,ay his urging, so that we could personally tell the chef (the brother) how pleased we were. The friendliness of the Italian people was on full display.
The next morning we were up early walking in the cool light rain and enjoying it like no other walk.
We soon found the very famous Florian Cafe which opened in 1720 and whose waiters are in white Tuxedo Jackets at all times.
After a light snack and a hot cup of espresso for me and tea for Phyllis, we went back to exploring Venice. We just wandered around back streets finding ourselves getting lost in time and space. This city is truly mesmerizing.
I hope that after seeing our images of Venice that you will want to visit it someday. I will be doing another article on this great city. You cannot do this city justice in any amount of articles but I will try and give you a small glimpse of the city I love most in Europe.
It has been two years since we've visited this great city and I miss it greatly. It is becoming like a loved one that has passed away, you can still remember them but you cannot remember their voice, you can see them but almost like in a dream.
I will never forget the charm, mystery or beauty of this city or its people but I am loosing the smells, crisp images in my mind and the wonderment of the ancient city of Venice. I also need to return and experience the joy of Venice once more.