What can be said about Venice that has not already been said?

I shall attempt to make a contribution in my way, but of course it will be impossible for me not to repeat at least in some small measure, a superlative or two that have been offered up by writers both great and anonymous who’s eyes have been lucky enough to gaze upon Venice’s illustrious facades.

Like Florence its hard to put into words the feeling one has arriving in this city. Venice is the birth place of Opera, and being here it’s easy to understand why. My heart immediately began to beat faster the second I realised that the train from Padova was leaving the mainland and stretching out like a spider’s web across the pail turquoise waters of the archipelago. It may seem cheesy, but I returned my iPod music selection to a collection of arias of some of Opera’s great pieces, but when combined with the view the two fit perfectly.

I think music is the only medium that can evoke Venice’s texture effectively, I felt an over whelming compulsion to sing, and no I have not lost my mind; I like to sing for a hobby and it’s a passion, and there have been some years invested with a little classical training, but I can honestly say that Venice is a place where you could sing and not feel embarrassed. The air here is caressingly soft, it undulates and ripples across the face and is scented by the briny waters that lap charmingly at the canal sides. All before have spoken of the light, but truly Venice has a light of its own. The light in Florence is crisp and clear in the day, providing wonderful contrasts of light and shadow, mellowing to a light gold in the evenings. Venice’s light appears more like a water-colour, it’s soft and powdery, the mood of it always changing.

The Rialto Bridge over Venice's Grand Canal.

The Rialto Bridge over Venice’s Grand Canal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Arriving to my hostel in the early evening, after being shown to my room at the Al Tromonto Darato in the area of Arsenale, I thought it best to have a shower and nap, meaning to stroll along the canals in the evening. I slept for an hour, got ready, and I anticipated that the light would change. What I didn’t know was how dramatically it would do so. The twilight had turned the waters to a deep Topaz blue, complementing the glow coming from the lamps that is much more akin to candle light, rather than the harsh phosphorescent glare you see on London streets. Colour seems to ooze out of the very buildings themselves, and makes even the most grotty ally way take on a theatrical stage lighting. Not all the smells are pleasant here, and in peak season it’s supposed to be worse, but there were none too unpleasant, and the odd ‘whiff’ was far and few between.

Visiting this place has only confirmed for me all the stronger, that Venice is the perfect setting to stage two of my novel’s characters dramatic escape. Apart from the main square the city is a warren of little ally ways, nooks and crannies. A deep breath has to be taken to venture down several of the darkest ones, especially when a concerned tourist or curious resident looks on, almost reproachfully for turning into what seems to be a dead-end corner, only for it to open out again into something new and have the echo of one’s footsteps be lost again in a huddle of people.

All the documentaries that I have seen, or things I have read about Venice over the years speak of its mystery. Yet again these romantic overtones are not an overstatement. The mystery here is palpable, one only has to turn two corners to find bits that are totally deserted with not a soul to be seen. I’m told that there is no crime in Venice and indeed it feels very safe, but it takes no leap of the imagination to create dangerous cloak and dagger scenes, being pursued by dark and masked enemies. If the residents were so inclined there would be few places to run, as a dead-end could halt your escape, or be faced with drowning in one of the many canals. Venice is safe, but when the city was dangerous once upon a time, I can think of no better place for the devious Pimpernel?

In my attempt to avoid the horrendous prices I was advised to get my food shopping in Padova, turns out tonight there has been little need, as I found a very reasonably priced slice of pizza, which I had with a little ice cream. I thought I would be leaving Italy as light as a feather, but I can already feel that I’m gaining the pounds, and without my London cycling about the place I will have to be careful! I cannot sing the praises of Venetian food just yet, as it’s very hard to avoid the tourist tat that lurks on every corner, but I have faith in the local markets where the locals shop, and in truth it’s only there or in a Trattoria known to the locals where you would get what a local Venetian would recognise as food.

I will begin y day with an early start, to both get the free breakfast, and sample a little of the morning’s light. Whether or not there will be mist at this time of year remains to be seen, naturally I’m hoping so, and wishing to wake up to something closely resembling a Turner painting. It may seem like a foolish wish, but thus far on this trip everything has looked like it does in iconic paintings, so I don’t see the point in expecting it not too anymore. I will see what the day brings tomorrow.

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