For a long time now, Venice has been my secret fantasy. Whenever I have a rough day at work I think to myself, let’s just pack it all up and move to Venice. I have always wanted to live there, just for a few months, just to see what the city is all about when you take away the tourist factor, when you stroll along the canals not towards the next postcard moment, but rather towards home, to spend the evening on your own balcony, watching the sun set over the lagoon.
However, when I read articles like this one from National Geographic, it becomes quite clear that the Venice I want to know so intimately no longer exists. We move through its streets from one spectacle to the next, gelatos in hand, in love with the idea of Venice, the romance of it all. We dream up phrases such as “sun-kissed water” and “lover’s paradise” as we spend an overpriced half-hour in a gondola, gaping at palazzos with fake façades, taking posed photos with smiles plastered on our faces. We buy Carnival masks as souvenirs and wonder, is any of it real?
Does it matter?
Venice may not be the great city it once was, the one the history books tell us whose influence stretched from Crete to Constantinople, the city that gave birth to Marco Polo, Casanova, Titian and Vivaldi, but I still love Venice. I love the way my heart soars when I stand in the Piazza San Marco with pigeons flying overhead, I love the hushed silence inside the Basilica San Marco, I love getting lost in the city’s alleyways and stumbling upon unexpected treasures. But most of all, I love that, even though this was my fourth visit, Venice still showed me something new every day.
The Renaissance sculptor, Jacopo Sansovino, whose works can be found all over central Venice, is credited with saying: “It is held by some that this word VENETIA signifies VENI ETIAM, that is, come again, and again, for however oft you come, you will always see new things, and new beauties.”
Venice might be vanishing, but as long as it still stands, however precariously, I will come and come again, and remember each visit fondly.
Do you love Venice as much as I do? Tell us what you love (or hate) in the comments below.
For more posts in the Ciao Italy 2014 series, click here.