(something I wrote during my trip to Venice back in January…)
Coming in to land at Venice, it looked so small. A little toy village with canals snaking their way through. This was my first glimpse of a much-photographed and talked-about place. The colour palette – rich reds, dusty browns and caramel tones – combine to make a mélange of warmth even in the cold winter weather.
Labyrinthine Venice. Twisting and turning. The best place to get lost. You never know what you’ll find as you turn the corner; perhaps a dead-end, a small bridge or an ancient church. The element of surprise is real here. You’ll never find the same place twice, but there’s always something new to find.
St Mark’s Square – a bustling hubbub of tourists, a menagerie of pigeons, a pool of puddles. The wonder of the basilica reflected on the floor, unnoticed by the tourists obsessing over selfies. A vendor selling selfie sticks has his work cut out…
We enter a bookshop, piled high to the ceiling with fraying edges, broken spines, and discoloured pages. Signs of Love. History prevalent in every corner as I search for a treasure of Venice between those dusty volumes.
Venice – the home of the most incredible sunset I have ever seen. My mouth immediately forms the perfect “o” shape as I turn the corner. Bright pinks, golden glitter – as the sun sinks further and further, disappearing into the canal, the water alights. A feat of nature as fire rippes through.
Every night in Venice, the mists appear. Almost as if they emerge from the canals themselves – a bubbling witche’s pot of fog. It covers the whole city, its secrets no longer open to our picking. We make our way, blindly, around the labyrinthine passages like cats slinking out of sight.
Every night we head back to our apartment – slightly removed from the rest of the island. A little courtyard to ourself with only a church standing sentinel at one end, and the grand canal creeping mysteriously at the other end. The beautiful silence occasionally broken by the intermittent church bells ringing; the shutters closing as the locals settle down for the night.
Oh, how different must Venice be in summer? It’s hard, almost painful, to imagine the delicate bridges trampled by thousands of feet, the sweet little lanes blocked by hordes of tourists all pushing and shoving. Non-moving. Cramped. Hot. Every summer, a little big of magic departs Venice. Gobbled up in the crowds.
As I fly away, flying high above the clouds, welcoming the sight of the toy town again. I think how, if I returned to Venice next year, in ten years, in twenty years, it will not look the same. How can it be possible that the route back to our apartment that I committed to memory may change? How is it possible that the bustling St Mark’s Square could soon be silenced under water? How is it possible that the beautiful, magical, historical romanticism of Venice may be threatened? How is it possible that the uncovered secrets of Venice may remain forever that? It felt important that I write down my memories and my thoughts of this sparkling gem of a city. They will be the only things that remain as Venice becomes more and more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.