I got near desperation when I finished the last of Donna Leon's Venice mysteries featuring inspector Brunetti. So I ordered a kindle book called "A Thousand Days in Venice." I am not yet ready to make a verdict on the book since I'm less than a third through, but several parts have captured my feelings about the city. One had to do with life being a tapestry, where every moment you live is woven into it, causing all the next stitches of weaving. I've done a hatchet job of conveying the idea, but it is the idea of making our destiny by choices.
Anyway, here's something that really speaks to me about Venice.
"I wasn't ready for how Venice made me feel, from that first moment when I walked out through the doors of the train station. It was as though Venice was more than a place. It was as though Venice was a person, someone familiar but not familiar at all, someone who caught me off guard. I was pretty jaded back then. I'd already been many places, seen so much, I just wasn't prepared for the frenzy of emotions in that moment."
I have seldom read a more descriptive version of my own emotions about Venice -- as more than a place. I didn't like Venice my first time, but then I had not prepared for it but just jumped on a train when I arrived in Wolfenbüttel for a fellowship on Whitsun and found everything closed. No reservations, a language I didn't then understand, and a city that in May is overwhelmed by tourists.
I have lost count now of how many times I have been to Venice. Since I have been 3-4 times each of the past three years, I think I have underestimated it, and have probably been there close to 15 or more times. When my trip to Rome had to be cancelled because of the black ice in the middle of the night and my knee, I tried to rebook but Rome near Christmas is way too expensive. Venice wasn't and guess what -- I am thrilled. I cannot get enough of the city, and to me it is especially beautiful in the darkness of winter when the locals predominate. Yet the temps are supposed to be good -- 50s and partly cloudy by day and 35 at night, which by Maine standards is late spring. I'll take it any day over midsummer, when the cruise ships unload, the crowds pack the bridges and not a local except workers is to be found. In the winter, you find the real Venice, what it once was like before --as some people, but not me say -- it became a living museum. It's not -- it's vibrant, alive and welcoming.
This is the city that continues to delight, inspire, and awe me with its physical beauty, incredible history, and to me an odd home-iness that the quote gets to. I always dreamed of Venice because I'd read so many books and seen films like Thomas Mann's movie version of Death in Venice, but assum go there under romantic circumstances. When I pretty much gave up on romantic circumstances, I just hopped on that train from Germany. The first trip was difficult -- I remember with joy running into a French couple who were equally lost and we could communicate!
But ever since, and especially each succeeding trip as I stay in different parts of the city, I get to know it as if I live there. Like when I lived in Paris for two years in the 1980s for my dissertation, I know the restaurants, the bakeries, and the very simple things that bring me joy -- like the vaporetti. And now that I can speak Italian, everyone treats me amazingly even though most people speak English.
I can't wait, especially since I'll be at the Pesaro Palace (and for Marriott's sake, at the Courtyard Airport last night since my flight is at 6:35 am). But the singular beauty of Venice, its tides, its sun, its people, and its smallness keeps making me marvel. There is simply no other city I always want to go back to more.