And edited version of my travel article. Published in Coventry Words Magazine: http://coventrywords.tumblr.com
Edited by Alyson Morris
Lounging on leather chairs outside Café Florian is a perfect place to reminisce and drink ice-cold wine, as the afternoon sun warms marbled buildings. A rustle of wind disturbs the heat and brings with it the scents of a city. Most think the scent is something to wrinkle your nose at, but all those who have been to Venice know better. Sitting in the shadows, people are relaxing on the edge of the sunny square. Not because they need cooling off or to avoid the faint odour of brackish water, but because they all feel at home.
People say, home is where the heart is, and if this is true then all hearts lie in Venice. With its romance and beauty, the best of writers have struggled to do it justice.
Long ago, it was home to great artists and writers, but above all it was home to the world’s greatest romancer, Casanova. And in the city squares, where many festivities take place surrounded by narrow cobbled streets, are lovers who have become lost – with one another.
The greatest thing about modern Venice must be that it has retained its charm. This could be said about many great cities, but there is a great difference here, there are no cars, just boats. The beautiful cerulean and emerald canals run through the city like roads elsewhere. This is not only the fastest way to get around in this city; it is the nicest way in the world. The Gondolas are taxis, and the captains hold the keys. Venetians understand that tourism is the greatest form of income for the city, but the gondolas must provide a large chunk. They perhaps seem ridiculously expensive, but once you experience the city via its waterways you will never enjoy a normal taxi ride again. The gondola captains can show you all the secrets to Venice if you only ask. Their English is not great, but they like to show off their city. They can take you down narrow alleys underneath a thousand bridges and between the towering houses, they will tell you about the history, and show you the houses of famous people.
The captain suddenly docks directly under a bridge and stares at me expectantly and whispers, “Ponte dei Sospiri.” I gaze at him in complete misunderstanding as he takes my hand and helps me out of the gondola. Leading me up the bridge in silence, he stops and points at something that looks like a marble tomb suspended over the canal, “The bridge of sighs,” he utters in a heavy Italian accent. The Ponte dei Sospiri was a passage that prisoners took to their cells. It was said to be the last place where they could see Venice, and would sigh, knowing they would never see beauty again.
The captain guides me back to the gondola and although it might seem a cliché, he starts to sing. Anyone who reads this article might roll their eyes, but those who visit Venice will understand. They will understand why the captains sing. The city deserves to be serenaded at every moment of the day.
St. Marks square is the most beautiful in all of Venice. The large palace and basilica take up most of the view. Visitors often bump into each other as they stare up at the gold and marble walls. But best of all is sitting outside the Café Florian where a waiter can bring you a large glass of wine as night begins to fall on all that gold and marble. You may even see street lamps alight as a large crowd of people arrive dressed in vibrant primal colours with faces hidden by masks. You may see them halt in the middle of the square, and a small orchestra may start to play.
If so, it’s carnival time! Dancers will freeze until the first notes ring. They will all look up and bow. They will bow towards an enormous column topped with a winged lion, the lion of Venice. They will begin to waltz to the music while vibrant colours flitter over marble like butterflies. Only then you will realise what Venetians already know – this is how life should be.
Everyone will raise a glass with you to toast the
Queen of the Adriatic, Venice.