5 May 2008 (posted 22 July 2008)
This crumbling, ancient, urban archipelago quickly gets under your skin. It's not the grand architecture, although there's plenty, nor the endless crowds. Venice appealed to my love of exploration.
Immersing myself in the rambling, seemingly random byways of this sans-car labyrinth is a true pleasure. While I love my maps, I initially exercised extreme willpower. It was a real buzz letting Venice just happen. Having chosen my course with no idea where I was going other than vaguely towards San Marco, I made countless 'discoveries': Squares, buzzing with activity, quiet, secluded courtyards, picture perfect (and not so!) canals and bridges. In some places, the path narrowed less than a metre as it ran between adjacent buildings. In others, what looked to be a dead end opened up beyond a hidden corner to a grand square or a surprise vista across the Grand Canal, usually at a Traghetto or Vaporetto berth.
When I finally succumbed to cartography, I found myself much further south than expected, my rambling course taking me almost to San Marco. Since I'd missed the bridge, I hopped over on the Vaporetto. San Marco was crowded... very crowded. In fact, very, very, very, very, very, very crowded. A sea of human heads, bobbing around in a tourist tide.
So instead, I opted once again for the back lanes, eschewing the maelstrom for, at times, surprising tranquility in such a populated city, a pattern we repeated throughout our three-day stay. Over the succeeding days, we visited outlying islands, Murano and the Lido, we saw churches, we shopped. But in my mind, Venice will remain this random, twisted, ramshackle city, full of discovery, hidden surprises around every corner.
Oh, and the pasta! OMG!*HUGZ*