For some Venice is like a fairytale, a dream. A city that floats on teal green waters of the grand canal that forms a sweeping S-shape through the central districts of Venice. Boarding the Vaporetta we made our way to the back of the boat to watch excitedly as it swept through the city, small waves formed from the boat, lapping against the facades of marbled palaces, a casino and churches as it plighed down the canal.
Four bridges cross the width of the canal but none more famous than the architectural icon of the Rialto Bridge.As we glided under, the arches were filled with people, looking out at the water, photographers clicking away at the busy waterways as boats and water taxis cruised on by, along with sleek black gondolas, gondoliers stood dressed in black with striped shirts, standing balanced with oars in hand rowing romantic couples as they smiled and waved to the boats and people on the bridge. This was Venice such a surreal place with no other city in the world like it.
The sounds of church bells pierced the air as we turned the bend I let out a “WOW” as the dramatic dome of the Sante Maria Della Salute church came into view. The octagonal shape is an architectural masterpiece. Two stops along and the people on the crowded boat dispersed into San Marco square boarded by the pink gothic Palazzo Ducale and the San Marco Basilica.
The boats final stop was Lido Island, home to the Venice film festival held every September and also where the locals go to enjoy the sandy beaches in Summer. We would stay at the charming Laguna Villas for the next two nights. The room fit with a king size bed separated by a living room with views from the window of the expansive lagoon.
We took the Vaporetta back to San Marco, people filled the large square, there was no fountain, no statue or sculptures that are usually located in Italian squares instead it was lined on one side by cafes and shops, the other by Palazzo Ducale where the seat of the Venice government was for over seven centuries. Adjacent was San Marc’s Basilica which took over 800 years to build. The story goes that Venetian merchants smuggled Saint Marc’s corpse out of Egypt in a barrel of pork fat to avoid inspection by muslim custom authorities and his life story is depicted on the exterior and the interior of the church as well as containing his remains. The basilica’s ceiling is also covered in a dazzling 24 carat gold mosaic to represent divine light.
The square was so crowded and congested, causing us to move under the arche of the Torre Dell Orogio, the clock tower whose inventors were assassinated so no other city could have a comparable clock but it all backfired when its mechanics malfunctioned in 1497 the bells rang randomly from that day on because no one knew how to fix them.
We squeezed through small narrow alleys, flanked by shops selling brand name goods, cafes and souvenir shops selling masks for the upcoming carnival held in February each year. We stuttered along twisting and turning wandering in an aimless direction until we reached the Rialto bridge. Earlier I had passed through on the vaporetta but now we were squashed against the rails looking out at the canal from above. From here we made the decision that Venice was best seen by vaporetta and over the next two days we had a wonderful time exploring the city and the other islands that make up Venice.
Two days later we sailed down the Grand Canal, once more towards the train station. This time Venice was covered in a thick fog, the palaces, churches, San Marco’s square that we had all seen so visibly just the other day, now only outlines of the buildings could be seen. Venice was fading away, like a dream does before waking up. Our dream was coming to a close, as I rolled my luggage towards the station, I watched other people walk towards me , smiling, pointing towards the water, some jumping with joy. I relised my fairytale, my dream had ended and their’s was about to begin.