“Perhaps all romance is like that; not a contract between equal parties but an explosion of dreams and desires that can find no outlet in everyday life. Only a drama will do and while the fireworks last the sky is a different colour.” –Winterson, The Passion
This oft-puddled city could drown in a sea of its own tourists, sink under the weight of its own cliche, yet it wouldn’t affect the instant, innocent kind of young love that it has inspired in me. My crush developed the moment I saw the first bridge, the first canal from a distance, coming along in a wooden water taxi form the airport. Perhaps my impression is altered, as it is hardly the height of tourism in February. In fact, the restaurants are near empty for what this teeny archipelago typically finds on its windy little streets. Venice is my own to explore. My own to embrace without the constant interference of picture-taking and long lines.
This city is seeping wet with stories from so many eras. It tells of a time when all were desperate for refuge–possibly from Troy but most certainly from the Lombards in the 6th century. It was founded upon safety and escape… possibility and freedom. This tiny constellation of 118 islands, bound together by over 400 bridges and nearly 200 canals, has seen great heights and near obsolete influence in the world with regard to economy, trade, music, and art. From the Middles Ages on through the Renaissance to now, Venice has impressed upon so many minds an almost magical, transformative arena, where carnival, love and histories have no age.
As I nose around each corner, shuffling through narrow alleyways, I can’t help but recall the loaded passages from Jeneatte Winterson’s The Passion, one of my favorite novels as a late teen. Set in Venice during the Napoleanic wars, it is a story of love and its precarious, vulnerabilities–its necessary waves of imbalance, ecstasy, regret and penetrability. As a young, impassioned teen myself, it was perfectly up my alley. Picking up the novel a year ago, now a decade later, it had not the same effect. Somehow, in Venice… it comes back with ease and perfect context. This city begs to to be paired with paradox and prose, poetry and proverbs. This city requires altogether too many run on sentences.
I prattle on not to be aggravating. See, it’s impulsion. I tend to write like the environment that surrounds me. Just now, I sit in a cozy little lounge of the Ca Maria Adele, candle burning before me, with classical music overhead. Outside my window, just a few meters away, stands the grand Church of the Salute. All that stand between us is a sleepy canal. It is quiet in this corner of town, hugging the art district and not far from the Guggenheim Museum, which we recently observed not two hours ago (a real treat if you are a fan of Kandinksky, Dali, Miro, Picasso, or my favorite– Piet Mondrian).
I reflect on the short time we have been here but the feast my eyes have consumed. We went to La Boheme last night at the famous Teatro la Fenice, built in 1774 to be ruined in fire twice before its most recent reconstruction in 2001. Stunning is hardly the adjective. Here, from our little sidebox, we watched the famous Italian opera by Puccini, set in 1840’s Paris– a group of Bohemian artists who live in the Latin quarter. Though the tragedy is inevitable, if you know the story at all going in, a sucker like me leaves with wet eyes.
We made our way to ABC Quadri–a recommendation from a foodie friend. Stuffed as we still were from the most incredible lunch in Friuli at Le Dune, we could scarcely do more than an appetizer. We proceeded to lose ourselves (literally) on the late night walk home to our hotel.
Today, we enjoyed a casual lunch at Aciugheti at the Rio Hotel–another recommendation–where the food was decent and the wine list amazing. Conterno Barolo for 110euro with age on it … not so bad…
And so, I need to get out on the streets again. Breath in the last bit of poetry this city has to give me. We plan to walk for a couple hours, eat at Osterie alle Testiere, then watch a performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Cliche it may be. But romantic… it is.
(** yes, this is out of order. more to come on other travels in europe for this very terrific honeymoon… )