November 3, 2011

Venice - So Easy to be Lost, So Easy to be Found

VENICE – So Easy to be Lost, So Easy to be Found

An Italian Balcony

Each time we travel, I send observations to my readers at the end of the journey. Here are some random thoughts about our 2011 trip to Venice along with some of my photos. 

Shutters in Shadows
--visiting our favorite restaurant, Algiubagio, sitting in the sun eating
     sarde in saor and pineapple carpaccio
--making side trips to Verona, Padua and Ravenna
--going up in the campanile in St. Mark’s Piazza to see Venice
     lying at our feet.
--twisting like salmon swimming upstream as we waded through the 
     pulsing hordes from the cruise ships
--counting how many times someone said, “Allora” on television and in live 
     conversations. We were certain, had we received a nickel for each 
     observation, we could have dined at the Danieli Hotel
--wondering how some things get connected: the sign in the internet shop 
     says that if you show the code for the internet connection you 
     purchased through Venetian Navigator, you can get a 10% discount in the lingerie store around the corner.
--finding ourselves amazed at how much press coverage the death of Steve Jobs received

Modern technology is changing the Italian language. Italians rely on their hands to help convey the meaning of their words, but with one hand on the telefonino, they are left with only one hand for gesturing.

Putti on a Palace
--you crave scrambled eggs and bacon, no matter how unhealthy they are for you
--your husband asks you a question and you answer with an affirmative, “Si!”
--you’re tired of washing underwear and socks in the bathroom sink
--you want a pharmacy that sells NyQuil for your sniffling, aching, coughing, wheezing
--you want to talk to your sister when she is two hours away, not nine
--you are looking for an American slant on America and not an Italian or British one.

An Open Door
BUT IT’S HARD TO GO HOME when you have begun to feel as if the apartment you rented is in your own neighborhood. You wander to tourist areas or prowl the sestieri and then you arrive at Calle Large San Lorenzo and it feels familiar, like you belong. You walk from your house to the internet store and
--the man in the mask shop waves to you
--the butcher lets you take the meat even though you forgot your wallet
     and must return later with the cash
--the bookshop owner tells you he has a new English novel (new being 
     a relative term)
--the sour-faced wine store proprietor smiles when you come in because you
    bring him your leftover water bottles
--every time you walk alone through Campo Santa Maria Formosa, an Italian tourist 
     stops to ask you directions and you regret your “Mi dispiace, ma non 
     sono italiana.”

But perhaps, in a way, I do know the city. It has embedded itself in my heart. It feels familiar and yet I share the wonder I see in the eyes of the tourists. Every day it amazes me anew, with the way the water changes color and the light glistens or darkens the canals. I stare agape at the buildings that stand like elderly matrons, their sides sagging, their facades peeling like overused makeup, their style long out of date. And yet they stand with a remembered elegance, reminding us of a time before electricity and motorized boats when they sparkled in candlelit chandeliers and music poured from every window. Sometimes, when the light is harsh, I must squint to see her former grandeur but by night she sparkles anew as if she does not know her age.