We arrived in Venice at midday. The bus from the airport swiftly delivered us to the Vaporetto, or water bus, where we boarded the #1 and crammed our luggage into the narrow bow seats. We waited expectantly. Once all were on board the boat pushed itself brusquely away from the dock and we chugged along the dingy green canal under a bridge and around a corner. I had to catch my breath.
Wide-eyed I saw the Grand Canal unfurl before me with all the colorful,decaying elegance its reputation promised. Grand palaces of pinks and yellows and creams reflected in the water like a live impressionist painting. Gleaming wooden motorboats and jet black gondolas scurried in front of our path in a chaotic but graceful dance. As our boat meandered along, we saw great churches shining in the sun and centuries old iron gates rusting in the lapping water. The whole city seemed like a patchwork quilt fraying at every seem, but still you could see the golden thread that held it together.
Once on land, Venice up close proved just as mesmerizing as it did from the water. Every chipping door, every multi-toned window shutter leapt out at us in a technicolor spectacle. The stone-paved vias crisscrossed over the smaller canals which echoed with the musicians who (for a hefty fee) sang for the tourists in their gondolas. These crowded, narrow paths suddenly opened up onto St. Marks Square where the great basilica cast an intimidating shadow.
Why anyone would feed pigeons, let alone pay for the “privilege,” is beyond me.
Icky birds aside, Venice’s charm was not lost on us. And this is just as well, because it seems the Italians do all they can to keep Venice radiating that charm. However, Venice is, in many ways, just a shell of a city. Despite all of the richness in its past, without tourists, the city would have no future. Venice is more an amusement than a town now. Even so, I can’t say we weren’t tickled by its radiance.
The most colorful piece of the day, however, came not from Venice’s vistas, but from its tastes. Dinner that night, I think, gave us a little taste of a garlicky heaven. Just a block away from the Rialto Bridge there is a restaurant I’d recommend to anyone called Da Mamo. We arrived right as it opened, which was a good thing considering it filled up fast. Josh had heard that the restaurant was noted for its pizza, and that Venice was noted for its squid ink pasta, so we promptly ordered both to accompany our house wine. The food came quickly and steaming. On my plate sat the prettiest pizza I ever saw. On Josh’s plate sat the least appetizing black glob I ever saw. Neither of us expected, however, how fantastically good both dishes would taste. All of the flavors of my pizza melded into a harmony of freshness. The taste of the black pasta forced our eyes shut in a Remy-like stupor of colorful flavor explosions. Never before in my knowing Josh have I ever seen him treasure or savor a dish like he did that black goop. Indeed, I saw him tug the noodles towards himself on his plate as though he feared he’d forget to eat them.
photo credit: livefastmag.com
Then the next morning our host fed us this.
Venice, I approve.