Impossible City, Preposterous City
I haven’t been feeling much inspiration to write recently, so I’m looking back to when inspiration for writing abounded, the seven hours that I spent in Venice. Very unfortunately and unfairly I don’t have any pictures because the tablet that I had taken the photos on was stolen the next summer during a flight to Menorca, Spain, probably by the jerks that went through my checked in luggage in Madrid. But anyways… From Verona, I took the train for an hour to the tracks last stop in Venice or in it’s proper Italian, Verona Porta Nuova a Venezia Santa Lucia.
The Trenitalia/Thello line is a lovely train, complete with free wifi (which saved my ass on the train to Roma), food cars (which I didn’t use), and comfy chairs (by train standards). But, anyways, I dropped off my luggage for a couple Euros per hour and left the station to explore the city on the water.
It was pretty early in the morning, so there weren’t too many tourists wandering around yet, and I got to watch the city wake up. For anyone who has not been to Venice, obviously go, but to get your feet wet watch at Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Doctor Who: The Vampires of Venice (season 5 episode 6). These will not get close to what Venice really has to offer, but they partially inspired me to travel there.
Wandering down the alleyways, I could feel the history. Seeing that besides the telephone wires and a few satellite dishes, the city hadn’t changed in hundreds of years. What shocked me the most was the fact that there weren’t really any roads in the city center. All the “roads” were the canals. Even between houses, boats would be tied up instead of cars parked. With the sun still making its way up into the sky, the water glistened as I strolled.
While I was wandering aimlessly I did have a checklist: get a Venetian mask, a cone of gelato, and ride a gondola (preferably the latter two at the same time). I walked through every alleyway I could find, trying to stay away from the main drag with all the other tourists, even going to the opposite side of the Grand Canal. That is where I passed a small museum/church, closed that day, with a small graveyard outside with the markers dating to around the 1100s. I also found a little shop, very out of the way; I was the only one inside with the shop owner. While I browsed at the masks he had made the old man was stitching lace onto another. They were slightly more expensive than the cheap ones you could find on the main drags touristy shops, but much higher quality and still inexpensive (around 50-80 Euros, depending on how elaborate). I found a dark blue mask that I immediately fell in love with (55 Euros), but wasn’t sure. So I left the shop to see if I could find a similar one for a bit less.
Around 13:00 I crossed to the more popular side of the Grand Canal, found a homemade gelato shop and ate super slowly so I could find a gondola to ride. Ten minutes or so of weaving through crowds led me to a lovely pair of gondola drivers who almost fought over me to climb in. I chose one and we set sail (sort of). It was a beautiful, leisurely ride. I munched my gelato while the guide pointed out and explained some of the historic buildings around the water. (A church/library and the Rialto Bridge)
The ride took about an hour and during that time I sketched one of the lovely views that I had from the back of the gondola in my little blue novel book.
After the ride, I searched avidly for a mask like the dark velvety blue, lacy black, with golden accents that haunted my memory, but none even came close. Crossing bridge after bridge, getting myself enjoyably lost I eventually made my way back to the shop where I had originally found it, but it was closed! For lunch, I’d have to wait almost another hour before it opened again. I retraced my steps to a little café I’d passed by at least five times that day and ordered a small salad so I wouldn’t feel bad about not eating anything healthy that day and so I could sit and work on my novel at a table in peace. I wrote pages and pages pausing when the shop reopened I went back and bought the mask as quickly as possible so I could get back to writing.
I only had a couple more hours until the train to Roma would leave so, while listening to my iPod I sat next to the edge of the Grand Canal, in a quiet alley, and continued my story. I could see people sitting at restaurants across the canal; their voices carried off by the wind, see the laughter and joy on their faces, celebrating their holidays. That was when I wrote about the character’s time in Paris, where I’d been a few days before, but I took some inspiration of the feeling I had from exactly where I was. Taking in a beautiful summer day, in a foreign land, experiencing an unbelievable sense of peace.
None of the photos belong to me, give credit where it’s due:
Venice Alleyways by Angelica Tait
Al Filippone Photography | Italy | Rialto Bridge, Venice
NidokidoS Group: Adeena Humayun
the picture of the mask is mine