Monday, March 05, 2012

Venice The Menice

The wonderfully talented and wise Elizabeth Gilbert had an interesting point of view on Venezia. She wrote in Eat, Pray, Love: "Venice seems like a wonderful city in which to die a slow and alcoholic death, or to lose a loved one, or to lose the murder weapon with which the loved one was lost in the first place. Seeing Venice, I'm grateful that I chose to live in Rome instead. I don't think I would have gotten off the antidepressants quite so quick here. Venice is beautiful, but like a Bergman movie is beautiful; you can admire it, but you don't really want to live in it."
I can see where Mrs. Gilbert is coming from, although for the first time, I disagree with her opinion. On the one hand, I, too, am glad I chose to live in Rome for a handful of reasons
MichElle in wonderland.
that I have already expressed throughout my blog. However, I didn't find Venice to be depressing even though it is sinking, murky, dirty and crumbling. I was too distracted by the magic of it to be bothered with any depression that might be associated with it. I fell in love with this fantastical city, and felt as though I was living inside of a storybook that some creative genius came up with. Someone must have written a story about this far away land, and I fell into it down the rabbits hole Alice In Wonderland style.
The question that I think we all want to know the answer to is who decided to build an entire city on water. I mean entirely! The whole thing is sitting on top of water and every year, the water level rises, which means that eventually this fairytale city will be lost beneath the cold, clear waters of the Adriatic sea. When I told my host father about my parents and I taking a trip to Venice, his eyes lit up with excitement as he said, "Venice?" He paused for a minute. "That's my favourite city in the world, you know." These are the words of a man who has travelled across almost every continent on the face of the earth. He told me to get a really good map
and find some off-the-beaten paths so that I could see the city's true beauty. Of course I took his advice, and of course he was right.
The most beautiful spots in Venice are the ones that no one knows about. There are alleys leading this way and that, some to townhouses that look as though they're toppling over one another with a tattered Italian flag dancing in the wind as well as clean bedsheets and soccer jerseys. Other alley's lead you to untamed gardens filled with wildflowers and stray cats, but most lead to dead end canals, which I'm sure makes being blind in Venice even more dangerous than it already is. And Venice would not be complete of course without the hundreds of thousands of pigeons and their loyal companions of crazy old ladies who spend the rest of eternity feeding them pieces of stale bread.
Luckily for me, my friend Rhianne used to live in Venice and sent me some tips and tricks on what to do and see in the City of Romance. She described Venice as "a strange, wonderful place that you just really need to go out and walk around in order to get an impression of how beautiful it is." Another lucky thing was that
One of the best meals I've ever had.
my friend Jordan who used to be an au pair in Rome was currently living in Venice as an au pair on the island of Lido. First of all, it was fantastic to see Jordan who is hands down the most adorable person I have ever met in my entire life. She has a sweet little British accent and looks like a prettier version of Snow White. She has dark brown hair, ice blue eyes, and red lips. Jordan also has a fabulous collection of floral, lace, and all-around beautiful dresses that she wears in even in the dead of winter. I love Jordan.
We met in the middle of the Rialto Bridge that crosses over the Grand Canal. I introduced her to my parents and she took us to an area where all the locals hangout. Although Venice is obviously a very famous city, there aren't many people who are actually residents. Its mostly made up of tourists due to the inconvenience of the city. Personally, I could never actually imagine myself living in Venice. There are absolutely no cars, which means that whenever you want to get anywhere, you have to either walk or rely on a boat. It isn't that walking is a problem (except when winter comes). Its just that if I wanted to do groceries, how
Italian living.
would I get them home? If I wanted to take a long drive with just myself and the radio for company, I couldn't. If I want to get somewhere in the middle of the night or far away from mio casa, I would have to wait for the water bus. Which is much like a real bus, but fortunately much less crowded with more seats and a breeze. If you need an ambulance or a cop, they would arrive in their own boats, as well. I just can't imagine living that way forever, although it was nice to be a tourist. One of the most interesting places I went to in Venice was the Jewish Ghetto, where The Merchant Of Venice was filmed. At the beginning of the 16th century, it was declared that Jews were allowed to live in Venice, but were confined in a small area. The only thing they could do to live comfortably was to build up, which is now why the tallest buildings in Venice exist here.
We spent our last day licking gelato on bridges, walking through San Marco's square, and enjoying the last Venetian cuisine we could get our hands on. The famous drink in Venice is
called the Spritz and is typically an appertivo. It consists of white wine, sparkling water, and your choice of either Aperol or Campari. I personally like Aperol because its sweeter where as the Campari is more bitter, and there is also a slice or chunk of orange floating around in the glass. Another traditional Venetian treat is the fritole, the prized dessert that is served at the Venezia Carnival. Fritole is a sweet, doughy little cake that is almost the size of a timbit (I'm sorry if you're not a Canadian and
don't understand what this is). Its fried dough that is decorated with candied fruits, most commonly raisins. Its also delicious.
Upon leaving this fairytale land, I had some time to think on the boat ride to the train station. It was kind of funny, this feeling I had swimming deep inside of me. I knew in my head that I should be sad to be leaving this lovely place, and that I didn't know when I would see it again. Yet at the same time, I knew it wasn't goodbye. I will absolutely visit Venice again and return to this city that cannot be compared to any other place in the world. A city that is really so much like a maze, where one can get lost with just one wrong turn. I used to think I was intelligent when it came to directions, and after visiting Venice, I know I'm a genius at it. I really impressed myself with how easily I managed to memorize the streets, alley's and bridge points. I'll find my way back.
If anyone is planning or ever considering taking a trip to Venice, I recommend for you to read the document that Rhianne sent me that is full of interesting facts and information on the city.

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