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Published: February 17th 2015
It is easily noticeable that men stand a little straighter when they are in her presence. Women hold on to their husbands hand a little tighter when they are around her. She has a magnetism and allure that is unquestioned and feels fleeting, but can be quite attainable.
Perhaps everyone already knows her, but she was original to me. Of course, I should have been more familiar than I was. Her beauty and sophistication is legendary. Once you see her, her charms are obvious.
She has an accent that sounds familiar, but you can’t quite place it. Latin origins, of course. Italian tones, yes. Certainly European and privileged. She speaks many languages but doesn’t always use a voice to communicate. Her outward appearance may show a little wear, but her style is as classic and rich as it ever was.
She has secrets, but isn’t afraid to share them if you know how to ask. She has stories, and will tell them if you take time to listen. She has beauty and sophistication that is undeniable, but also a sense of fun just below the surface. In the soft light of morning
From Ponte Accademia
by the harbor or in the fading glow of the setting sun by the canal, I find her at her most beautiful.
Don’t look too close, don’t stare for too long. See with your imagination, not just your eyes. You’ll find mystery around every corner and intrigue through every portal. Walk with her on an enchanted foggy morning through the piazza before anyone else can distract her attention. Sit with her in the tiny café drinking espresso with the gondoliers before the tourists arrive. Stroll with her early along the canal as the sky turns dark blue from black, while you still have her to yourself.
Spend an evening, watching the sun set over the church, the water sparkling as the lights come on to light your way. Take the alleyways and secret routes home. Slowly cross the bridges, watching her reflection fade in the water as the night sets in. A mist in the air makes the lights seem brighter as her temptations increase. Follow your heart into the night with her.
I have found my new love…and it is Venice!
We have been in Venice for
just more than a week. We have a small apartment (as always) in the sestiere (neighborhood) of Castello. We live down a narrow alley that necessitates turning sideways to pass someone coming in the opposite direction. From the alley we pass through a heavy iron door into our sun lit courtyard of many colors. Browns and oranges dominate, greens and yellows compliment. 300 years of paint has worn unevenly and beautifully, occasionally revealing the underlying brickwork as the sun passes above throughout the day. The courtyard is surfaced with ancient stone and each apartment that faces it has plants in their window boxes and shutters to keep the chill out. Our neighbors hang laundry to dry each morning on the elaborately rigged lines that spider-web across the courtyard in every angle. The bells from San Marco chime early and often, but the tones are muted and comforting instead of irritating.
It is said that visitors should avoid Venice in the summer when it is crowded and hot and during Carnevale season. Being refreshingly chilly, it is definitely not summer, but it is Carnevale season. Carnevale (literally “no meat” in Latin) is the celebration held during the last
At the Doge's Palace
couple of weeks before Lent. Carnevale is celebrated in Venice less aggressively than it is in Rio de Janeiro or New Orleans. Although crowded, it takes on a sophisticated ambiance that is more ballroom than rock concert. Carnevale was held in Venice much earlier than in those cities, as early as the 12th
century. Outlawed during Napoleon’s time, it officially reappeared here in 1979 and now Venice hosts the biggest celebration in Italy.
The crowds have increased daily as we get closer to the Tuesday night fireworks that will culminate the annual festivities. Every alley around Piazzo San Marco is filled with revelers from mid-morning until night. The normal three minute walk from our house to San Marco can easily take twenty minutes in the early evening as visitors fill the streets looking for food and entertainment each night.
Piazza San Marco is the center of the public celebrations. A stage is built for costume and mask contests. Fireworks go off a couple of times a night and many presentations are held during the day. Elaborately dressed revelers can be found everywhere in town and are experts at posing for the countless photographers who
ask to photograph them.
A parade of boats goes down the Grand Canal and elaborate celebrations are held in the many ornate theaters, opera houses and upscale hotels in town. Many private celebrations are held in some of the many richly ornamented Palazzos found along the canals.
For the most part, we have spent our time away from San Marco and the crowds of Carnevale. Meandering walks through one of the other five sestieres has been more to our liking. Crossing narrow, sharply arched bridges from one island to another, discovering endless narrow passages, hidden courtyards or art filled shops fill our days.
Watching the many types of boats transit the canals that serve as roads is infinitely enjoyable. Produce, packages and people move with surprising efficiency through the intricate network of interconnected channels. No vehicles and no roads mean everything from firefighters and ambulances to trash pickup and package delivery must come by water.
Of course the gondoliers are the most famous of the boatmen. Masterfully weaving their intricately designed black boats through the canals powered and guided by only a single oar, they magically navigate their
way through crowded waterways and under the tiny bridges. Their classic straw hats and traditional striped black and white long sleeve shirts make for an iconic image that represents Venice to the world.
While adjusting to the time change after travelling here, I awoke early for several mornings before the sun arose. I made coffee and set out early to explore the beautifully lit streets and canals. I made my way one morning to Accademia Bridge near the Guggenheim Museum to watch the sunrise over the Grand Canal. The streets and piazzas were nearly silent as I passed through them with the exception of sweepers clearing the previous evening’s debris. The smell of sweet bread filled the air from some unknown café. The air was brisk and cold but fresh with the occasional breeze of the nearby ocean. I enjoyed broken English conversation with a couple of fellow early risers as we watched the sun slowly light the sky from the bridge.
Another morning I found myself standing alone in Piazza San Marco. To be alone in the magically and mistily lit square was absolutely surreal. Gazing through an arch toward the towering Campanile
Piazza San Marco Morning
San Giorgio Maggiore and Gondolas in Background
with the ornately designed Doge’s Palace behind, I was transported back to an imaginary world when Venice was the richest and most powerful city in Europe. In the muted light I saw two elaborately masked and costumed models slowing making their way arm–in-arm past the magnificent jewel box that is St. Mark’s cathedral. They appeared to be ghosts of a time of magic, beauty and intrigue that was Venice. Truly a beautiful moment and a travel memory that will be remembered forever and will always mark the beginning of a beautiful, new love affair.
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