We smile broadly. At last, we are here, a place in which to immerse ourselves and enjoy your charms. We move slowly towards the Grand Canal from Santa Lucia, taking in your age old venetian architecture, the beautiful ochre walls of the palazzos. You are impossibly romantic. Surpassing our dreams. Ours to explore for the next week.
We continually cross your bridges, walk your tiny lanes, jostling with crowds for space and meandering through your tiny squares. We are shoulder to shoulder with tourists on the Rialto Bridge or bumping into people in Piazza San Marco. But this does not spoil our experience.
To get lost in your sestieri is to understand you. Your maze of bridges, lanes and canals are enchanting. We often end up in the same place several times during the course of the day. Wandering has led us to parts unknown, experiencing places with fewer crowds, cheaper restaurants and more authentic food.
Yes, it is possible to wander about and dodge the madding crowds. But every now and again while wandering your sestieri, we are thrown back into the tourist throngs. It is these crowds that lift our awareness to the over tourism you are experiencing. No wonder Venetians wish that most of us stayed home!
Spending time here is getting to experience you first hand. You are so beautiful in the morning as you slowly awaken with the glow of the sunrise accompanied by the increasing din of watercraft. As you stir, your quieter corners become more animated. To step away from Piazza San Marco and the Rialto is to discover all you really have to offer, the real Venice. This is how to best enjoy you…strolling the stone laneways, before the day trippers invade and locals retreat to their sanctuary. For just a short time, we feel like you are ours. The streets. The cafes. The small canals. The serenity. Ours to enjoy. The only sound to startle us is that of leather shoes scurrying across the cobblestone laneways, hurrying for the vaporetto.
As the day grows older and the crowds increase, venturing to places less known like Castello and Sant’Elena deliver us an authentic experience. Here, your calles are almost ghost-town empty. In the campo, we witness locals quietly going about their daily business, oblivious to the frenetic pace and thrum of Piazza San Marco. Here, the only sounds we hear are of old men in heated discussion, the clatter of dishes from distant windows or the sound of single steps in the distance. We see nonnas sitting on small wooden chairs, under their washing lines hanging above, keeping a close eye on what is happening up and down the calle. And not a tourist in sight…except us. This is a quiet place, the canals glassy and old stone calles deserted. Every so often, the silence is broken with the sound of a bell from a distant campanile, reminding us that time is in fact moving forward.
It is the sum of all your parts that makes you so romantic. You are not a singularity, not just places like Castello, or the busier San Marco, rather you are spectacular in your entirety.