By Madeline Lloyd
The map and the street names didn’t match up. We were lost. Monica and I had a little over an hour to find the hotel and make it back to the piazza – we didn’t realize the challenge we had taken on. The words of my journalism professor kept ringing in my mind, “The only way to truly experience Venice is to get lost.” If that’s true, we were experiencing the city on water to the fullest.
This confusing afternoon in Venice, however, taught me a substantial amount about the foreign city. I saw things, heard things and smelled things that often caused me to abruptly stop. My attention was frequently captivated by sites only known to Venice – a fisherman sitting on his yellow boat, glistening in sweat while pulling a net out of the inviting, green water. Or a piece of multicolored Morano glass jewelry sparkling from the window of a store. The sound of modern American music often rang from gelato shops, causing us to feel at home for a few seconds until we continued our trek through the city streets. The smell of sweet bakery dough wafting through the air was commonly overpowered by the brief, yet striking smell of sewage. Venice is truly a unique city.
The first thing I realized is that Venice relies on boats the same way America relies on cars. Canals are streets, the concrete areas are sidewalks. This city on water is an entirely new world, home to leisure and class. Orchestras entertain tourists at night, their melodies drifting softly through the night air speaking to the souls of those who listen. People sit in archways in the main piazza with their backs against the cool concrete, lost in their own world of fantasies. The music affects them in personal, emotional ways.
Couples dressed in formal attire stroll leisurely hand-in-hand. They exude maturity and class. Their origins are unknown, but they give Venice a good name. Gondolas glide across the calm water quietly, without disturbance. The gondoliers have been trained to make the ride smooth and calming to those who desire a tour of the city, or a romantic night ride with someone special. The city on water encourages passion and emotion in a variety of ways. It is the tourists’ job to discover which method speaks most personally to them.
Venice is a rare delicacy. It is one of the only cities in the world that values God’s natural gift of water over man’s creation of concrete. It is home to intricate beauty, tempting water and romantic adventures. A day spent in Venice is sure to expand the body, mind and soul as long as the tourist accepts every encounter. Don’t be afraid to wander the streets. Get lost. Explore Venice.