I’m sitting on an ancient-looking Victorian settee on the second floor common area of our hotel. The sun has tried in vain to shine all day, but for a few sparse moments here and there, it has been unsuccessful. The damp weather doesn’t discourage most of the tourists and we certainly haven’t been put off by it. Venice in any weather is a treasure chest and an umbrella only obscures the view of the magnificent buildings, the high balconies still bursting with colorful blossoms, and the decorative array of wrought iron hugging nearly every window. Even the humblest of dwellings is fit for the artist’s brush; the pealing plaster, exposed brick and colorful shutters are picturesque. Then there are the statues, carvings, columns, balustrades (those heavy railings made of wood or stone), not to mention the marble façades of the churches, towers and palaces—so much to see looking up!
Did I mention I love this place? Standing in front of the Basilica in St. Marks Square this morning, we marveled at how many varieties of marble are in the columns—some veined, some speckled, some cloudy—from green/gold to purple/grey to golden brown.
This piazza is what I had envisioned when I dreamt of coming to Venice. I’d seen pictures, I guess, of the popular tourist destination. When we began to make plans to come here, I realized that by imagining myself here, part of me had gone ahead and arriving in person was like meeting myself, finding myself, reconnecting with that part of me that isn’t limited by ‘what is’ but rather lives by ‘what if.’
I enjoyed the square while Ron ascended the tower to get some pictures. I was happy just to sit, watching the people, smiling at the pigeons (hundreds of them descending on anyone with a handful of crumbs),
wondering at the plethora of seemingly mindless tour groups held together by remote earpieces listening to a guide tell them where to look and when to walk. I decided that’s not how I want to see the world. Despite the wealth of intriguing facts imparted by the knowledgeable guide, I’d just as soon piece the story together myself by what I’ve read or overheard, letting my imagination fill in the blanks—and be free to gaze at what ever my eyes are drawn to. I see the curious, bold pigeons in the squares, the rat that scurries down the street in front of us at night, the Italian woman discarding her wash-water down the narrow walkway outside her front door. I like the story I hear from the white-haired painter in Realto Market. As he proudly shows us his work, he tells us he just turned 64 yesterday and he’s been painting all his life. He shows us a faded newspaper clipping—a picture of himself taken 30 years earlier when he’d received an award for his work. We bought one of his paintings.