The ferry is inching slowly forward, almost at a halt, for apparently there’s speed limits on the ocean as well. The city is close now, and the excitement amongst the passengers is rising. Outside, on larges poles, seagulls are majestically observing the traffic; clearly showing whose territory this really is. Rounding another corner and there it is; Piazza San Marco. Suddenly all sense of reality seems to evaporate. What strange and magical place is this?
Venice. It’s safe to say that there’s few, if any, places like this in the world. There mere name so evocative. The beauty can be overwhelming at first, at every turn you can’t but stop and marvel in wonder. Managing to build a city spread over 100’s of small islands in a marshy lagoon is impressive enough; to do it with such splendour is just staggering.
Getting lost is inevitable, but there’s a certain mystery in the air as you navigate through the narrow alleyways and over tiny canals in the less populated areas; as if there’s some great secret hidden behind all those textured walls. Luckily a revitalising cappuccino is never far away no matter how lost you get.
A very small cappuccino. I’m on my third one as I sit people watching on Campo Santa Margherita , a popular spot for locals to socialise. Students grab the first drink of the evening, families gather in groups conversing while their kids play to the side, tourists look at maps and pointing in the direction of their best guesses for a successful journey. It’s very easy to forget the troubles of the world at places like these. Life is always easier when you’re only visiting.
Except when you’re going the wrong way. The Canal Grande is as defining of the city as the city itself. Naturally one must travel it. I decided to take the trip from Ferrovia for the grand ending view of Punta Della Dogana and Piazza San Marco. Such a beautiful plan. Flawless, even. I got on the outside front seat. I was ready! Except, I got on the wrong Vaporetto. Instead of going down the Grand Canal, this went the opposite direction, providing such memorable views as the industrial backside of Venice, and the docking area for the humongous cruise ships. Then it started to rain. A humours twist to the easy life indeed.
Another minuscule cappuccino. The sun is setting, the crowds are thinning out, the backstreets are empty, and only the silent plucks of the canals can be heard. The magic of Venice after dark is hard to put into words. Gazing out from Riva Degli Schiavone towards San Giorgio Maggiore your thoughts can’t help but wander to Monet’s Sunset in Venice, which so eloquently captures the beauty of the city.
The last few locals are leaving for their evening wine and meal. I alone am left at the shore. Still mesmerised, unable to move. Such is the power of Venice; so captivating, and so entirely unforgettable. I smile as I think of her secrets, maybe one day I’ll figure them out.