Flashback: Disarming, Enchanting Venice

Since my travel writing class in the Saint Joseph's University study tour program in Rome is reading Marlena De Blasi's lush memoir A Thousand Days in Venice, now seems like a good time to look back on the Venice portion of my own trip.

In sensuous, poetic prose, De Blasi tells the story of a wild and spontaneous romance that begins and ends with the city known variously as La Serenissima and Bride of the Sea.

Here's her description of her first glimpse of a city she had long avoided:

"The doors are open and I step out into wet rosy light, onto a sweep of wide shallow steps.  Shimmering water glints from the canal below.  I don't know where to put my eyes.  The Venice of myth is real, rolled out before me.  In straw hats and striped shirts, the gondoliers are sculptures of themselves fixed on the sterns of glossy black boats under  around yellow sun.  The Bridge of the Barefoot is off to the left and the sweet facade of the church of San Simeone Piccolo hails from across the water.  All of Venice is tattered, resewn, achingly lovely, and like an enchantress, she disarms me, makes off with the very breath of me."

No matter how often I return, that first glimpse of Venice from the train station steps never fails to take my breath away.  And this time around it was even better to see it with my husband Andre on his very first visit.  

We had only three days to gobble up as much of Venice as we possibly could.  We experienced chicchetti, Venice's version of happy hour finger-food:

We wandered through the Accademia, the Doge's Palace and its prison:

and the Peggy Guggenheim:

And a satellite exhibit of the Biennale where we were disoriented by very new art in a very old place:

We island hopped over to Burano and Murano:

We even had the rare treat of seeing Venice through the eyes of a longtime local, scholar and novelist Gregory Dowling:

We traipsed toward the lagoon to hear the duelling bands play standards and to soak up some of the glamour of moonlit St. Mark's Square:

And on our last night, craving a little American rock music, we even stopped briefly into the Hard Rock Cafe:

Not quintessentially Venetian...but fun!


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