Venezia, the sinking metropolis

Venice is the perfect place for a phase of art to die. No other city on earth embraces entropy quite like this magical floating mall.

-Jerry Saltz

Venice. There is no other city I’ve been to which is quite like it. It is unique, as many cities are, but Venice is one of those extraordinary places that will never leave your mind.

As soon as you’re in the city, it fells like you’re on a different planet. No cars. No highways. No skyscrapers. The only correct way to travel is by water. There is water everywhere. Everywhere. Speed boats and wooden gondolas swim side by side, their drivers shouting greetings and directions at each other. The Italian language flows freely in a sing-song way, the tones a laughing, rippling harmony by themselves. The people smile at you as if they have known you for years and chat freely about all sorts of things.

The streets are tiny, narrow pathways of the city’s labyrinth. You never know what will be behind the corner: an old marble palace, maybe, or a time-honoured church, or maybe just a decaying tavern. Whatever the case, it will look ravishing. As my brother said: “Venice even makes dilapidation look beautiful.” I completely agree.

As you can see, I couldn’t stop marvelling and taking photos of Venetian streets. They were so magical, magnificent, mysterious! Every house is different: soft pink, bright orange, pastel blue, deep red. Balconies with flowers and fancy borders are right next to windows with dark shutters. The doorways are suspended in water, as if the people living there would expect Aphrodite herself to climb out of the water and mount the steps. The houses seem to whisper stories to you, of times when Venice was ‘the centre of Europe’, a magnet for merchants and sailors.

There is life even in the darkest alleys: laundry hangs from the washing lines, fluttering softly in the wind whilst a group of young boys returns home from travelling. You really sense the importance of family to the Italian people, it seems to radiate of their grinning faces: you feel welcome at once.

The Rialto bridge, just like every single little bridge in Venice, is a stunning sight. So long and strong and trustworthy… It goes right across the Grand Canal, the main ‘highway’ in Venice, where boats of all sorts are in abundance. Modern chic yachts, old-fashioned wooden gondolas, little fishermen’s boats, speedboats… you name it! Never before have I seen such an arrangement of boats in one place. All this is accompanied by the chaotic lull of a mixture of voices and languages: dozens of tourists crowd the scene making a racket, giggling or even standing still in amazement. Shopkeepers sell hundreds of souvenirs, luring the tourists into a trap.This, however, doesn’t spoil the experience: I doubt this place was very different several hundred years ago (minus the plastic junk of course 😉 )

What really makes me sad is that Venice is sinking. Right now. In a few years, the whole city will be underwater and tourists will look down from their boats into the deep, green seawater and wonder what this cryptic, mystical metropolis was like. I am so, so glad I got to visit Venice and I would do it again as many times as possible, for the clock is ticking…

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