A Love Affair Begins

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February 17th 2015
Published: February 17th 2015
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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
Elaborate CostumesElaborate CostumesElaborate Costumes

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 Piazza San Marco Morning 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.

Additional photos below
Photos: 26, Displayed: 26


Grand Canal NightsGrand Canal Nights
Grand Canal Nights

From the Rialto Bridge
A beautiful viewA beautiful view
A beautiful view

Grand Canal and Beautiful Costumes
Grand Canal Grand Canal
Grand Canal

From Rialto Bridge

17th February 2015

The photos are gorgeous. Venice is a truly beautiful city and even more so during Carnevale...
17th February 2015

Thank you!
It is truly beautiful...
17th February 2015

Wonderful commentary
Such beautiful pictures. And I love the idea of coming across costumed figures in the dawn light. What a great memory.
17th February 2015

Thanks for reading!
Thanks for the nice compliments. We've been reading your Singapore blogs. Venice is beautiful and we can't believe we haven't been here before!
17th February 2015

Fabulous photos!
18th February 2015

Thanks, Tracey. It is a beautiful place with another photo opportunity around each corner...
18th February 2015

Masks...oh so amazing
Wow- so rich in color, mystery and a story. Wow. For you love is Venice. It would be wonderful to feel what you have felt while in this beautiful Italian city. As you say she has secrets and her sophistication is legendary.
18th February 2015

Carnival ended last night and I don't know how much Venice will change now with less people. They say this is the best time to visit. We'll see....
18th February 2015

Beautifully written...
and the pictures beautifully composed. When you mentioned in your last blog that you were off again, I wouldn't have guessed Venice as you spent time in Rome. But this was a perfect choice. I love Venice, but you have exposed its soul. I have a dear friend who lives in Venice who will meet me when I am in Rovijna, Croatia on 22 April. If you are still in the area, I would love to be able to make the connection. On 23 April I drive from Rovijna to Piran and then Lake Bled for two nights. Then Ljubliana and Zagreb. Let me know if there might be a chance to meet even if it's just over lunch or dinner.
18th February 2015

Sounds like you have an awesome trip planned. We wanted to go to Venice when we were in Rome. We didn't want to miss it this time. We thought about going to Croatia after Venice, but won't be going that way this time. We'll be following your trip and if we get close enough we'll get together. Thanks for reading!
18th February 2015

I always look forward to you blogs, your photos are amazing!
18th February 2015

Thanks for reading!
19th February 2015

Oh Venice...
You've made me fall in love with Venice all over again. Fantastic blog and photos. :)
19th February 2015

Venice is great and much more serene now that Carnevale is over. While the food is great here, you can't find Indian food and every time we read your blogs from Kerala or Ooty we are so starving! Thanks for reading....
24th February 2015
Grand Canal Sunset

Incredible blog!
Fantastic, dreamlike prose and incredibly vivid photos! This really seems as if it could be published in the NY or LA Times travel sections. You are so brave and well-rewarded to have visited at Carnevale (I just returned from its wet version in Bolivia). I spent a couple of weeks there one autumn and loved the non-tourist feel of the place, which you now have. Happy to see you're back in Europe!
24th February 2015
Grand Canal Sunset

Thank you!
That's very nice of you to say and we appreciate you reading! We hope we get a chance to read about your Carnival adventure soon! Venice is very nice whether crowded or not and we are really glad we finally got a chance to get here. We really like Italy and would love to do what you do with staying a much longer time here. Maybe one day....Thanks again for following along!!
16th June 2015

Love this shot Nanci
16th June 2015
Carnevale Masks

You have excelled your usual high standards with this blog Nanci. Heaps of cracker shots and this one...Wow!
9th May 2017

Absolutely fantastic photo! Beautiful!
25th May 2017

I have visited Venice myself and found it as fascinating as you have. However, what drew me to your blog was your most outstanding and vivid photography. I also appreciate your style of writing. Congratulations!
25th May 2017

2nd January 2019

Carnevale photo
That is an absolutely sensational photo. Well done!
15th May 2020
Grand Canal Sunset

the Panorama of all your pictures are wonderful!!
Photos are all wonderful!!!
12th June 2020
Grand Canal Sunset

Stunningly beautiful. Venice is so familiar, yet your photos make it new.

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