The sun glimmers on the canal and illuminates the golden domed buildings. The boats sail past each other. The air smells of the sea nearby. People are wandering about, walking the stairs and crossing the bridges. It’s morning in Venice.
The overnight train brought them here. It twisted and turned through the Alps in the middle of the night. Upon first sight, Elizabeth is speechless as she realizes Venice does indeed exist and is more beautiful than she could have ever imagined. Benjamin is more reserved in his reactions, but as they arrive to their destination by water taxi he can’t help but feel astonished by this place.
The water taxi travels from side to side of the canal making stops along the way. The boat ties off along the dock as passengers scuttle to their destinations. Elizabeth and Benjamin have reached their stop: San Silvestro. From here Venice unravels slowly. It cannot be traveled by car or even bicycle. It must be traveled by foot.
Now back on land, Elizabeth leans against the ancient building and closes her eyes. The morning sun is warming her face. To be in Venice is to see, to hear and to touch. The engines of the nearby boats rattle. Small waves hit against the canal wall.
She pushes herself off from the wall. It’s time to explore. Not that time is critical in Venice. It’s not divided into hours, minutes and seconds. It’s divided into years, decades and centuries. Elizabeth glances at her pants. They’re covered in sand. The building is eroding and is leaving pieces behind. Venice is decaying with time.
Venice is a maze. Once built to confuse invaders of Venice, it’s now full of lost tourists. They’ve come to visit for the day and are rushing to see this magical city. But Venice shouldn’t be rushed. Benjamin and Elizabeth prefer not to rush and stray away from the crowds. Benjamin leads the way through the city, while Elizabeth joyfully follows in his footsteps. In this maze they wonder if they will ever reach their destination, or if they can ever find their way back to where they started. Some streets lead to a dead end which is marked by a canal. Some streets twist and turn over bridges around buildings.
The builders of Venice often displayed their victories of war. St. Mark’s Square is the perfect location for such a display. Benjamin and Elizabeth roam the streets to find this location. The journey highlights the old and new in Venice. Treasures of the ancient world and of the present day are on display. Louis Vuitton, Versace and Burberry share the same space with the Rialto Bridge, gondoliers, and the ancient buildings and canals.
After traversing the streets, they’ve arrived in this famous and glorious square. Time has stood still here. The victories of war are on display. Pigeons roam the square just as they probably did hundreds of years ago. Members of an orchestra, dressed in tuxedos, prepare for the evening dinner guests. The square must be viewed carefully though, as present-day salesmen aggressively peddle roses and trinkets. This interaction quickly bring Elizabeth and Benjamin back to reality.
As the day ends, Venice transforms into a different city. The majority of tourists have left for the day. It’s quiet with only the locals and overnight guests roaming the streets. Instead of crowded passageways, the streets are open and isolated. They feel somewhat abandoned.
The onset of dusk provides a serene scene for the dinner table. Elizabeth and Benjamin dine on local seafood while admiring the sunset. The food and wine signify the end of the day. Evenings here are for reflecting. What will become of this place? Will children continue to play in the courtyards while the church bells ring? Will fisherman still have locals to feed? Will this way of life endure? Elizabeth and Benjamin don’t know the answers, but they feel blessed to even be here to ponder these thoughts.
But as the night falls, dawn will soon approach. They know that their stay in Venice will be short and it will be time to move on. They promise each other that they will return one day. Venice is old and crumbling, but it is still surviving.
Author: Sarah Warman
I like to run, take pictures and write. I've combined all three in this blog.