The quality of Venice that accomplishes what religion so often cannot is that Venice has made peace with the waters. It is not merely pleasant that the sea flows through, grasping the city like tendrils of vine, and, depending upon the light, making alleys and avenues of emerald and sapphire, the City is a brave acceptance of dissolution and an unflinching settlement with death. Though in Venice you may sit in courtyards of stone, and your heels may click up marble stairs, you cannot move without riding upon or crossing the waters that someday will carry you in dissolution to the sea.
– Mark Helprin, American writer, from The Pacific and Other Stories
I was really sad to leave Piazza al Serchio and our wonderful villa. Again, I wished I had one more day. I would have spent it outdoors, reflecting by the pool with the Tuscan hills before me. I would have convinced David to drive around and look for perfect photographic opportunities. Aside from Roma, and despite objection from family and friends, the Internet connection for me here was faithful and I was able to catch up with my Firenze posts, though at a cost – less time to enjoy the view outside.
Well, again, that just means I must return. Our drive down the mountain was as beautiful as it was stomach churning for Jacob. I usually get carsick, but I think the beauty of the landscape was my antidote for carsickness. At any rate, I was disappointed we didn’t return the way we came because there is a spectacular stone bridge that I was hoping to capture. We did come across a beautiful and strange plateau and horses let loose on the streets on a quiet stretch of road.
While I was looking forward to seeing Venezia again, I also had to brace myself for the onslaught of tourists and tour guides again. After such a peaceful time in the Tuscan mountains, this was a shock to the system. Not only that, but we had to deal with the outrageous prices that go hand in hand with a major tourist destination. That said, David was extremely relieved to return the rental car at the Marco Polo airport and surrender the Fiat keys and his driving duties.
Still, I was excited and charmed by the canals, the plentiful bridges, the lapping water, the old buildings of stone and peeling paint, the Doges Palace or Palazzo Ducale, and Piazza San Marco. Again, I wanted the kids to experience Venezia, so we went to the Museo Correr and the palace.
Our hotel, the Nuovo Teson, is right off of San Marco Basin, so we didn’t have to carry our roller bags too far (it’s against the law now to use roller luggage on the cobblestone streets of the city). Our room is teeny, but that’s part of the experience of Italy. We don’t have a great direct room with a view, but if I lean out of the window and face left, I can see water.
We had dinner right around the corner, in a restaurant called Venezia Al Vecio Portal, with a garden in the back. Of course, we had to order seafood, with David ordering squid and me ordering spaghetti seafood. We knew we picked well – with a recommendation from the hotel clerk – because while we were joined by tourists, we were surrounded by locals.
After dinner, which was after nine in the evening, we wandered through the maze of streets, away from the main arteries of the city. We came upon empty streets and quiet canals – all very lovely and soothing. This is how I wanted to enjoy the city. And I got my wish.