Arriving in Venice can be done by many means. Once there was no bridge and the only connection to mainland was by boat. Everybody bound for the floating city would have to get sombody to carry them… Over the lagoon, between the low islands, following hidden waterways. While crossing the Ponte della Liberta, the bridge, in your Airport shuttle, try to imagine how it would be… How it was a hundred, two hundred yers ago, when arriving in Venice was much more difficult enterprice… And colder.
Imagine… No traffic, no people, in fact, there are no sounds whatsoever, other than the just recognizable “swoosh” when the single big oar tweaks in the Venice water moving back and forth in the dark. The air is humid… wet. In fact, it’s so wet you can feel drops of moisture rolling down your chin And it’s cold. Not cold as in winter and snow. But cold from the wetness, the water. It makes you shiver.
In the distance you see the shadows of high, square buildings, and tall clock towers, so thin and leaning that they seem to be floating in the air, hanging from the grey sky. Very slowly you start to distinguish other sounds – footsteps on the marble, voices speaking in a strange dialect. And then you see the lights. Weak, white flows from small lampposts creating more shadow and darkness than actual illumination.
You pass the ships at Santa Marta and when you reach Zattere the voices become different, younger and louder, filled with laughter and good times, love and excitement, wine and music. The boat, or Gondola as we should call it to not insult the maestro gondoliere, reduces the speed and turns towards the shore. With some immensely complicated twists and roles of the oar, the gondolier slows down, misses a half rotten pole by an inch, turns the gondola 90 degrees and stops softly one millimeter from the wall, so perfectly he could hold a stamp between the stones and the board. You have arrived. From here you walk…