If there is such a thing as instantaneous love for a city, I found that with Venice. It began as soon as I peeked out the train window as we were coming into the city. Perhaps it’s my particular affinity with water, but as soon as I saw the vast expanses of sea, I felt at ease and comfortable. Then came the city itself.
From the moment I walked out of the train station, I could not stop gazing around at my surroundings in awe. The buildings radiated with history and culture. They looked and gave the feeling of true beauty through age and detail. No modern hand created this. It was pure Italian history before my eyes. And before my feet was a winding, snaking series of canals to carry me wherever I needed to go. Gondolas, motorboats, boat buses, mail boats, work boats, and water taxis were aplenty and floated past en mass. It was as if someone took a downtown London street and infused it with the grace of a ballet. Riding around on the ‘bus’, floating through one of the most beautiful cities I’ve had the pleasure of seeing, was a highlight to say the least.
I went to Venice with the specific intention of seeing the Biennale, a major contemporary art exhibition. I had not planned on doing much else, but had plenty of extra time to fill. In some cities, this situation can seem daunting. In Venice, it’s a treat and comes as easily as stepping out of the hotel. I knew near nothing of the place and its specific attractions and yet all I needed was a map and I was content to walk about the city exploring. Around every corner is another shop or ristorante brimming with character and fascinating goods just itching to be looked at and tried. I did my fair share (if not a tad extra) of looking and trying and touring and found that I had officially fallen in love with a place.
When it came time to leave I found myself wanting more. I had taken a guided tour of Piazza San Marco, but now it felt entirely insufficient. I wanted to see more. I wanted to do more. I wanted to know the place even better. I left Venice with a comfortable hunger for more of it. If there is anything I regret about the trip, it is only that it was not longer. I fully intend on returning, if anything, just to take a good, long ride in a gondola.