Venice. For some reason, all I had in my mind were pirates with striped shirts and red bandanas winding and wadding through endless canals. A little bit of that yo-ho, yo-ho a pirate’s life for me going on. Curtains of heat hanging heavily over the city and masses of humans getting far too close for comfort plagued my imagination. I was not necessarily wrong, but I also wasn’t particularly right either.
Preparing for Venice I was anticipating holes being cut from my pockets and my money just falling straight into a multitude of tourist traps. Little pirates everywhere, lurking in the corners. I know water taxis are a life saver but due to circumstances out of our control we had to pass, but I found a bus. So that was easy, kinda. Luggage help was apparently not a part of the package but there was AC and a super long bridge. Moreover, we landed on the island, pockets still in tact, but only temporarily so.
The second our feet touched the ground on the Venice it was quite apparent we were walking in a dream. A look to your left and see liquid turquoise is swirling through narrow twinkling canals meanwhile, our luggage was screaming as it chased our heels. It was only a 20 minute walk to the hotel, then you know, I get to feed myself. My heart dropped though as I burst out laughing, because through all the mystique chaos around me I could hear a whisper in my head of my brother stairs, dragging the luggage over the stairs. They hired help but, “damnit to hell Mom, it can’t be that bad, we have this. Only like 4 more bridges. It’s bootcamp. Whatever.” My phone doesn’t really work because the houses are cutting out the signal, the sun is dipping further into the horizon as we continuously stumble down the stairs of the never ending bridges. Winding through narrow pathways, down streets with no name I was convinced we were doomed. That’s it. Someone is just going to pop out and fuck it, we would be dead. In Italy… before Mom sees the Eiffel Tower.
Meanwhile, my Mom is just having a grand time. Look at the colours, the architecture, in constant wonder and awe. Which is lovely, it’s expected but I was hungry. Arriving at the hotel we nuzzled into our room with deep red, dizzying walls, carefully navigating the area so that we don’t knock each other off our feet. A restaurant shut it’s doors in our face, causing us to stumble into a lovely pizza joint. The Italian service marvelled over my height and we choked on cigarette smoke between laughter until it was time to have our first gelato with swirls of orange and whipped in chocolate. Basically, my Mom’s dream gelato flavour.
We fell in love with Venice, but after a day of winding through the alleyways and meeting some legal pirates at the Cantor we decided that it was high time to get the hell out of dodge. I wanted to see the islands, and I really did not fancy the idea of Murano. I know what glass looks like, I see it in the shops. I wanted something different, so we grabbed our tickets set sail.
The suffocatingly hot ferry dropped us off on the sleepy island of Torcello. It was as if my lungs were breathing for the first time ever. Air so clean it nearly sparkled, water gently meandering through the town and a canal sprinkled with boats. Torcello was one of the first lagoons to be populated around 452. It’s buildings are ancient and dusted with history, very few people actually inhabit the island but signs of tourism can be found in the tables draped in white and the waiters sour attitude.
The sun was strung high in the sky as we hopped to Mazzoboro. An island famous for it’s wine and sporting a community garden that is open to the public and maintained by the retirees. Mom and I almost melted into the ground here, walking directly underneath the beaming rays we could spot the colourful town of Burano and I was taken aback.
Burano is an island painted by the rainbow. It wears colours like Lady Gaga wears Versace. Some facades are daring, others are whispering pastels, some are so dark they almost take a back seat but most importantly all of them put together create an indescribable charm. Boats slowly wade through the canal cutting reflections into pieces. Shimmering glass in stores can catch ones eye but only after the island forces you into a love affair with lace. Wrinkled women delicately designing someone’s christening gown or wedding dress. Hands dancing, studious eyes and a sly smile all coming together to produce magnificent pieces of art.
Completely enchanted by the kaleidoscope that was a fisherman’s village, we watched as the six o’clock hour brought all the shades down on businesses as shops shut their doors. I was absolutely spellbound by the town I was sure Massimo from The Wedding Planner was from (spoiler alert: he was not, and was singing about Laredo) that it wasn’t until after we broke onto the ferry on our way back to Venice that I realised, the turnstile wasn’t broken. My brain was. But you know what Venice, did me dirty so this is just karma right? Holding my breath I nearly pushed my Mom off the platform and kept my secret nice and tight within my own body.
Four nights and four days in Venice and I was bewitched. Transported to another era, the art, the music, the pure romance in the air. One cannot simply ever forget their first time in Venice. How could the evenings spent we scrambling onto gondolas and floating through sleepy canals ever fade from memory? We spent our days marvelling at accordion players providing the soundtrack to our store-bought lunch dates and climbed upon a mountain of books. Sat upon the only bridge in Venice with no railings, swooned at gondolier’s songs and entertained our imaginations with painted visions of what life was like before Dior, Gucci and other designers moved in. We left splashed in Aperol spritzers, with our wallets a little lighter from those sneaky pirates. But most importantly, unbeknownst to my mother, we got even.