Lady luck is on my side again. With the sun out to play, my train stops at Venezia Santa Lucia station. Having watched Casanova and Dangerous beauty – two movies with film locations in Venice, I believed myself to have made an acquaintance with this city.
I make my way with a pair of shades and no map in hand. With the sun ablaze, I am ready to get lost in this city of romance. My goal is to eventually reach the San Marco Square where the main sites are: Doge’s Palace, the Jewish Ghetto of Venice, Torre dell’Orologio and Basilica di San Marco. I do, after two hours of wandering and meandering through the narrow alleyways and crossing canals after canals.
It is a Saturday morning and numerous ladies walk around with their marketing trolley. The streets are unusually quiet, the doors and windows closed. Is it always this quiet? Nearing afternoon, streets become fuller and more alive. Tourists flock the Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge. Being the oldest bridge in Venice, she holds many trade secrets in regards to the cities’ merchant history. Today, tourists clamber up the steps of Rialto Bridge, eagerly snapping pictures…the food market of yesterday has been replaced by stalls selling trinkets and souvenir items.
I reach San Marco Square and stand there with a few hundred other visitors. The sun shines so brightly you can only squint if you don’t have a pair of shades protecting your lovelies. Like most squares in Europe, this eloquent space invites buskers and al-fresco cafes – the ambience is lively and relaxing; tourist or not, you amble along with the slow pace.
Entering the Doge’s Palace; this becomes my main highlight. Walking through room after room of aging wood – I get absorbed into the history of the city and how she was run back in the days. With my audio tour guide firmly in place, I listen to the transitions of power, the structure of her ruling class and how laws are played out in these rooms which were once restricted to a number of officials. Yes. The seat of power remains alluring and intriguing. With its fresco paintings and cold prison, I can’t help but wonder the way common people once lived.
Spending only half a day in Venice, I leave not knowing the lady any better. Too much time has passed between her glorious age and today’s contemporary world – I am but a foreigner stopping by in an attempt to see the surface of her beauty. Her secrets remain safely in the nooks of the houses, with Venetians who have carefully tuck her real identity away – my gleam is superficial, I will have to live here and earn my trust if I really want to divulge any secrets off her.