Rain smells different in a sinking city. That distinctive smell, usually earthy and comforting, elicits childhood fears of lost civilizations and forgotten history. After a lifetime under the vague impression that the city would one day collapse under its own weight, Venice wasn’t what I expected. With its winding pavement and irregular intersections, it’s easy to lose yourself in Venice. There were times when I forgot that I was surrounded by water, times where I didn’t silently consider each raindrop another nail in the coffin of a watery grave.
Venice is beautiful. Everyone should go at least once, to experience the gondolas, the architecture, and the shop windows. I was supposed to visit a Venetian glass-blowing demonstration, but I got lost and missed it. I did, however, pick up an intricate, lace masquerade mask from a street vendor. My advice: don’t be afraid to ask for help once you realize you’ve wandered too far into the labyrinth. Make note of the following, and you’ll be fine.
- Watch your back. The cobblestone roads are too narrow to accommodate trucks, so deliveries are made by handcart. Deliverymen are on a mission; they don’t care if you’re having a life-affirming moment, gazing out across the vast expanse of tomorrow’s Atlantis. They give fair warning by yelling at those in their way, so expect to be bowled over by more than the beauty of the city if you don’t move.
- Don’t fall into the canals. Two words: raw sewage.
- Carry extra cash. By the time I made it to Rome, I’d learned to look for signs outside restaurants boasting no cover charge. I wish I’d known in Venice. When we received our bill, there were several extra charges, including a service charge for the cooks and cover charge for entrance. Gratuity was added, though it was a small group, and our waiter suggested we also tip on top of that. Basically, they saw us coming.
- Enjoy your water taxi ride! I regaled everyone in my vicinity with the story of The Mystery Man in My Bed.
I’ll save that story for tomorrow, though. It deserves its own post.