Semi Finalist 2009 FTF Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
Of course it was sunny when I went to Venice â€“ the summer heat of Italy is notorious, and having experienced it now first hand, I am honestly baffled how any sort of rain could have the courage to fall past that blasted sun at all.
Of course it was sunny when I went to Venice – the summer heat of Italy is notorious, and having experienced it now first hand, I am honestly baffled how any sort of rain could have the courage to fall past that blasted sun at all. I couldn’t help thinking to myself, “It floods? Here?” and yet, evidently it does. Water apparently has much more of a backbone than I thought.
But Venetian heat is different from regular Italian heat. I had already experienced the latter in the previous days, when we – the choir and I – had made the trek from the Tyrol into Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, and of course…Veneto. Temperatures regularly topped 35oC – which by that time, my ignorant American self had learned meant really hot – with no singular chance of respite. But you get used to it, as the natives did. I know – I didn’t believe it at first, either. But somewhere between eating gelato and complacently watching the plaster peel off thousand-year buildings , I found myself liking the dryness of it. It almost tasted sweet in my mouth.
Venetian heat…well, that’s something else. They don’t tell you about it in the brochure, between the references to Venetian glass and Venetian Blinds, but that is the third, unspoken part of the triumvirate. Venetian heat is humid-heat, and stick-to-your clothes-so-you-feel-totally-gross heat, and to top it all off, I wore pants.
The first leg of our trip to Venice required us to journey to the Piazzale Roma, where we were to offload and take one of the vaporetti (waterbuses) across the lagoon to where Venice straddles its hundred islands.
It was truly remarkable.
By that, I mean, getting to our particular vaporetto. Going from point A, the bus stop, to there required all one hundred of us to pass through a labyrinth of chintzy gift shops, and we did it all without anyone being hoodwinked, taken in, or otherwise cheated out of our money. None of us fell into the water, either, as a fury of Japanese tourists crowded off the boat that was to be our bus. It was a day of miracles.
The boat ride was to be the kindliest part of our day. We had a roof over our heads and, what was more, we had a breeze. We lounged in padded chairs, lazily taking pictures of the approaching city, as the wind raked through our hair and dried the sweat on our scalps.
But very soon we passed out of its view, and very soon afterwards we found ourselves abandoned once more outside a hotel called Garibaldi, back in the heat. That Venetian heat. Only now, it was accompanied by that smell that can only be politely described as “two thousand year-old poop”. I called it “sea, sweat, and cigarette,” but most people would swear their lives, their sanity, and their babies on the first epithet. It was only after I rounded the corner and passed under the watchful gazes of San Teodoro and San Marco that I saw the Square for the first time.
I’m only going to say this. I never went into the Cathedral, and neither did I see the Doges Palace, nor pass over the Bridge of Sighs. I didn’t need to. I saw Venice – not the tourist trap, but the city of decayed brilliance, where grandeur is not lessened in the least by algae, tourists, nor anything else that time and its petty ways can throw at it. I saw Venice – and I lived its Heat.
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