Venice, Italy…7 a.m. Children laughing on their way to school, backpacks flapping as they run across the Accademia bridge. A bakery displaying fresh wares, the narrow street still dark, the shop’s windows warmly lit and calling the passer-by in. Street cleaners sweeping the detritus of the previous night’s celebrants using long-handled brooms of bundled branches, stopping their lively banter to avoid disturbing the homeless man sleeping on a bench on a little piazza, a pigeon at his feet. Few tourists out of their hotels yet. Two nuns hasten by, late to mass? And did I mention the canals?
The first time I awoke in Venice, I was lodging in a cheap hotel on the third floor. As I swung my feet out of the bed and onto the linoleum I stepped into an inch of water. “My God,” I thought in my sleep-befuddled state, “the hotel sank into the canal!” By the time I made it to the hall I could see that only my room was involved in the localized flood, and the lady at the desk downstairs explained: “Don’t worry about it. That pipe in the wall breaks all the time.” By evening most of the water was gone, damp towels scattered about taking its place.
That’s my Venice: damp, sinking, sometimes (especially in mid-summer) stinking, but incredibly beautiful all the same, always a feast for all the senses.
Stop for an espresso, stand at the bar with a workman in blue on one side and an impeccably-dressed businessman on the other, follow their lead and order a cornetto, its custard filling a sugary delight.
Interested? Morning coffee never tasted so good.
Read any of Donna Leon’s brilliant detective novels following Criminal Inspector Brunetti and his loving family. Venice will feel like your own hometown.
As good as being there. Well, actually…not even close. I’d fly there tomorrow if only I could.