Venice is one of those cities etched into our collective consciousness and any one of us can summon up a picturesque image or two without having ever set foot in the Veneto. I admit the adult me used to say “I want to go to Venice” just as the child me used to say “I want to go to Disneyland”. Little did I know the two have more in common than meets the eye.
My first encounter with Venice that I can recall comes from a book called Turner à Venise. How I loved that book with its dreamy pictures of an amazing city built on a lagoon. Turner’s romantic vision of the city, where famous sights emerge from vaporous backgrounds and where mystery completes an invisible race with light, convinced me of the unique beauty of Venice and shaped my desire to go.
There is no point in me trying to convince anyone to like Venice as I genuinely think it would be impossible not to like it and boy did the place deliver! I have never been that close to experiencing Stendhal syndrome than in Venice. Everywhere you look is impossibly charming, impossibly beautiful or impossibly romantic. The words fail me to describe the fantastic rush of delight coursing through me at every corner, at every bridge, at every piazza. I am sure I have had my quota of stomach breathing since everywhere drew gasps of admiration. The city pass bought from the Venezia Unica website ( http://www.veneziaunica.it/en/e-commerce/services ) quenched my thirst for knowledge since it comprises all transports and free access to 15 museums. The cherry on the cake was the gondola ride. I may be such a tourist to pay 80 € for a 30 min ride but I am a romantic one and this is a great way to explore the web of little canals that make Venice while having every other gondola asking you to kiss your partner. Let’s admit there are worse choices in life than to click like mad or to kiss like mad!
San Marco square, the Doge Palace, the Basilica San Marco, the Bridge of Sighs, the Rialto Bridge, the church San Giorgio Maggiore, the Grand Canal, the vaporetto, Burano, the gondola ride in the little canals, the palazzos and museums, the market, the lesser trodden Canarregio area, little restaurants in dark alleyways, even the view from the train station are like a thousand miracles for the eyes, the heart, the head or the palate. The fight between decay and opulence is also part of the major attractiveness of this remarkable and unique city. Practically everything gave me thrills in Venice and it is a city of pleasure and excess.
It was not always the case of course and how it went from being a place to hide from Attila the Hun in the middle ages to a place that shines so bright it attracts almost 10 millions of tourists a year is actually a little sad. Venice is much like Disneyland nowadays as it is on the verge of becoming a museum town. The tourist shops at the corner and long every street remind you of the souvenir shops ending every attraction in Disneyland and you have to look carefully to find a restaurant that cares about the food it serves. As for the gigantic cruise boats that vomit thousands of tourists in one go, while destroying the foundations of the town, they should be banned. I am immensely glad I have been and would like to go again but if I had to wait because a daily quota of tourists was imposed, I would wait if it meant saving the Venetian’s sanity and city.
Still, the power of attraction of Venice is second to none and I’m letting the pictures do the talking for me now.