Venice: The City Where Stones Float on Water

Once upon a time, Venice ruled the seas...

Once upon a time, Venice ruled the seas…

I love Venice the most late at night.

The way light on the canals dance dapples on stone walls. The way voices echo from what sounds like a bar, but you can never find them: each narrow street seems to dead end on water, and you have to backtrack and start over again.

I love Venice the most late at night...

I love Venice the most late at night…

I loved wandering back from a late dinner and buying a glass of grappa from a bar near the Rialto bridge. I took my drink over to the Grand Canal and leaned against a pillar, or sat on old wood, and listened to the waters lap at mossy pilings as they have for centuries.

A late night grappa near the Rialto bridge...

A late night grappa near the Rialto bridge…

I love wandering the old palazzo of wealthy merchants, and imagining myself inhabiting those rooms.

I don’t picture myself growing rich by controlling the seas or the flow of wealth from the East. I just have vague images of writing in a wood panelled room, of eating beneath elaborate chandeliers of Murano glass, of the echo of my footsteps as I wander my rooms looking at art. And of reading in a latticed window seat while a gondolier splashes past far below.

Wandering the old palazzo of wealthy merchants...

Wandering the old palazzo of wealthy merchants…

...elaborate chandeliers of Murano glass...

…elaborate chandeliers of Murano glass…

...wandering the rooms, imagining a solitary bookish life there...

…wandering the rooms, imagining a solitary bookish life there…

...reading in a window seat as boats splash past...

…reading in a window seat as boats splash past…

I love eating crostini standing up, and Aperol spritzers for a lunch time boost.

We found a nice little bar on the San Trovaso canal, right across from the workshop of a gondola builder, where we could take our sandwiches and drinks outside and sit on a wall soaking up the sun. There were a lot of nice places like that in Dorsoduro.

An Aperol spritzer and crostini make a nice canal side lunch...

An Aperol spritzer and crostini make a nice canal side lunch…

A nice little bar on the San Trovaso canal...

A nice little bar on the San Trovaso canal…

I love the sea level view you get by taking a water taxi.

The gentle roll of the boat and the smell of the sea connects you to the city in a way that walking just won’t. And if you go there, be sure to approach the city from the lagoon. You can catch a water taxi right from the airport, and approach Venice slowly, the way merchants and pilgrims did for centuries.

San Giorgio Maggiore from the Doge's Palace...

San Giorgio Maggiore from the Doge’s Palace…

I love sipping a negroni at a quiet pre-dinner bar, and then eating by the side of the Giudecca canal.

We had one of our nicest dinners there, on a quiet breezy night. Seafood and then rich liver washed down with a lovely Veneto wine. And I watched boats and car ferries slide past, and wondered what was over on the other side.

A lovely dinner on the Giudecca Canal...

A lovely dinner on the Giudecca Canal…

And most of all, I loved getting lost.

Sure, Venice gets packed with slow shambling tourists, and the lengthy crocodiles of flag-led groups, especially on weekends. But it’s very easy to escape them. Try wandering around a quiet residential district like Cannaregio or Castello and you’ll see what I mean.

And read John Julius Norwich’s mammoth History of Venice before you go. I promise the streets and palazzo will speak to you if you do. And you’ll feel the weight of that long line of history all around you.

Venice was glorious once. It wasn’t just a cliche.

And you’ll find that in what is still one of Europe’s most beautiful cities.

The tourist-packed Venice most people imagine...

The tourist-packed Venice most people imagine…

Taking a quiet walk in Cannaregio...

Taking a quiet walk in Cannaregio…

Each narrow street seems to dead end on water...

Each narrow street seems to dead end on water…

 

Photos ©Tomoko Goto 2015

 

 

 

 

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