I would return to Venice because it’s like nowhere else in the world, and it may soon be gone. While the rest of the world has changed and modernized, Venice has remained the same. Sure, now people have computers and cell phones, but the true Venetian lifestyle lives on. Old Italian women hang their clothes on lines over narrow alleys and canals.
Kids cautiously play soccer next to these canals, making sure not to kick the ball into the water. While wandering down alleys in perfect silence (there are no vehicles), you can almost imagine that it’s long ago, when Venice was not a part of Italy, but a powerful city state. It’s like something out of a fairytale when you see a gondolier drifting down a canal or hear a busker playing an accordion at dusk.
My trip“It looks like a map!” I remark of what I can see of Germany in the early morning light. We’re starting to descend, almost at the Frankfurt Airport. I’m so excited, I can barely sit still. I’m thirteen, and it’s my first time in Europe.I get on our connecting flight to Venice, and as we fly over Switzerland I catch a glimpse of the Alps. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
We stumble into Venice on no sleep and no food, but lots of coffee. I have a hot, cheesy margherita (pizza) for breakfast and set out to see as much of Venice as I can in the two days I’m staying there. There are glass shops numbering in the hundreds, carrying everything from little touristy figurines of animals for a euro or two, to lavish statues for thousands. I amble down winding alleys, over bridges and through tunnels, occasionally stopping for gelato or to look at a stand full of Venetian masks and postcards. Eventually I come out in Piazza San Marco, or Saint Mark’s Square. Pigeons and tourists abound, and it’s hard to know where to look first. It’s sunny, but there is a bit of a sun shower. Dark clouds and bright sunlight create contrast behind the basilica, making the intricately decorated church look even more dramatic.
As I climb the stairs to the deck overlooking the square from the top of Saint Mark’s, I start to feel my sleepless night. My feet ache from walking all day, but I barely notice as we sit on Rialto Bridge, watching the moon, laughing and licking gelato.Next morning comes quickly. Today we’re headed to the quieter, less crowded section of Venice where many of the locals live in Santa Croce. There is only the occasional person, walking a dog or heading home with their shopping. It seems like we’re seeing the real Venice now. We end up in Saint Marc’s Square again. At the edge of the square, I sit on the steps by the water with waves lapping at my feet.
That evening as we attempt to make our way back to the hotel, we get impossibly lost, but it doesn’t matter. In fact, it’s one of my favourite memories of Venice. When we finally find the hotel, I lay in bed and think of everything I’ve seen in the past two days. It seems a lifetime since I boarded the plane in Canada. Thinking back on the days of glass shops, masks, pizza and canals, it’s impossible to imagine not going back to Venice.