Tales of a wandering lesbian

Venice, day 1, part 2

Venice is known as a safe city to walk around at night.  As a solo traveler, that’s exciting news.  Sure, there are folks who are up to no good, but the island, relatively speaking, is safe.  So, as the grey skies turned to black, I ventured out again.  My earlier wanderings had taken me through neighborhoods, past churches, and across countless canals.  I had stayed away from the Grand Canal and the other big attractions.  There would be plenty of time for those.

As I headed to dinner I planned my return route.  The restaurant was a couple hundred yards from the hotel, but I wanted to see the Grand Canal at night.  When I left the restaurant, it was raining again.  For me this meant a couple of things.  First, I might get a little wet.  Second, there would be beautiful, shimmering streets to add to the magic of the city.  It was a fair trade.

Venice wet

I headed first to the Rialto bridge.  There were enough people walking the streets that I could follow them, along with the yellow signs affixed to buildings that point the way to major landmarks.  Even so, I almost missed the bridge.  The arcade lining the street leading to it caught my eye.  The shops, of course, were all closed, but the sweeping arches and strings of Christmas lights gave a feel of grandeur – and seedy commercialism.  I’ll go back and have a look a little earlier in the evening for the full effect.

On the other side of the bridge I found myself in a seriously polished commercial district.  I think I passed three Gucci stores, along with every manor of upscale retailer.  This well traveled district between the Rialto and Saint Mark’s must be one of the busiest during the day, full of the tourists that keep the town alive.  The rain and the number of tourists picked up as I headed into Saint Mark’s square at about 10PM.  It was dark, and mostly deserted.  The young pub-crawlers that were everywhere on the other side of the bridge remained there, giving way to vast seas of little tables and chairs – empty outdoor dining areas, all closed for the night.  The whole place had a ghostly feel, the four horses on the front of the church galloping onto a dark, empty piazza.

S. Marco at night

I wandered over to the water that borders the square and found a fleet of gondolas, their sterns bobbing up and down in the water, and another eerie view of the La Salute Church floating in the distance.

La Salute at night

My next destination was the Academia, and its bridge, which would put me back in my hotel’s neighborhood, and on familiar ground.  I consulted a map.  The canals of Venice make it challenging to navigate by dead reckoning.  I’m a poor navigator at the best of times, but for some reason, Venice is proving a bit intuitive for me.  I hit dead ends every so often, but am able to wind around and through to my destinations with little trouble.  Even at night I only took the map out a couple of times, preferring to pick my way along, enjoying the fantastic scenes that unfolded.

Night canal

The huge academia bridge popped up out of nowhere, obscured by construction surrounding the academia itself.  Atop it, I was treated to shimmering views and the low rumble of boats passing under.

Rialto night view

Once across the bridge I wound my way back through the neighborhoods, popping out in the same piazza where I’d had dinner.  I congratulated myself and then promptly found that I was momentarily paralyzed,  unable to pick the correct street leading back to the hotel’s lantern and my waiting bed.  Too funny.  Sleepy from the long day, even the map left me befuddled.  I took a breath, laughed at myself and picked a path.  It’s an island.  How lost can you get?  And the hotel materialized before me, a welcome sight.

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November 29, 2009   1 Comment