I have been all around Europe so far, with only a few exceptions. But to me, Venice has to match. The Serenissima has a completely different feel to it, unlike any other European city. The architecture, the maze-like alleys, the lovely aperitivi, the people… They all contribute to the magic of the place.
Perhaps I saw the city with different eyes since I lived there as a student. Everyone I met had a passion and dedication towards their intellectual and artistic affairs. No utilitarianism was seen. The conversations were filled with grace and melody as if thesis, antithesis, and synthesis were complementing notes on a musical scale.
The summer and autumn days are filled with tourists, to the point that it gets difficult to walk around the city. There is noise everywhere, as well as a slight price inflation. But when winter comes, the city becomes almost desert, and then, its dream-like properties start to reveal themselves.
The winter light in this city! It has the extraordinary property of enhancing your eye’s power of resolution to the point of microscopic precision—the pupil humbles any Hasselblad lens and develops your subsequent memories to National Geographic sharpness. The sky is brisk blue, the sun, escaping its golden likeness beneath the foot of San Giorgio, sashays over the countless fish scales of the lagoon’s lapping ripples; behind you, under the colonnades of the Palazzo Ducale, a bunch of stocky fellows in fur coats are revving up Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, just for you, slumped in your white chair and squinting at the pigeons’ maddening gambits on the chessboard of a vast piazza. The espresso at your cup’s bottom is the only small black dot in, you feel, a miles-long radius.
The architecture of the city is original and stunning. At every step, you are overloaded with classical Venetian gothicism shamelessly displayed in colossal buildings, giving you a taste of its former Republican glory. A perfect example of this is the Palazzo Ducale, the home of the supreme authority of the Venetian Republic: the Doge.
A Place To Dream
I have never experienced such a degree of dissonance between reality and imagination as the one I feel every time I step foot in this city. Everything in it is so unlikely to happen, and yet it is there. So, if one day you would like to get lost in another world, visit Venice.