04.08.2010 - 05.08.2010
After a fantastic breakfast of raspberry torte, black Italian coffee with warm milk, and bruschetta with freshly pressed olive oil, we take the train into Venice. Franco, our hostess tells us not to worry about how late we return and she shows us how to work the gate for their home.
For the first time, we are very, very hot and the crowds of Venice discourage us from exploring with our usual enthusiasm. We walk through the town, trying to catch the breezes off the water, and refilling our water bottles at every available source. The crowds visiting Venice are dense and our first struggle is simply to stay in sight of one another as we walk the streets and cross the bridges.
I was excited to visit Venice but quickly I find myself looking forward to our departure. I have an unpleasant sense of being at a party that has gone on too long. Everywhere, there are weary Italians trying to sell us Venetian specialties and we are overcharged for everything from internet usage to water at our lunch. Someone comes up and tells me to take my backpack off as I am tempting the thieves and the songs sung by the gondoliers are Americanized versions of commercialized Italian lovesongs. We look listlessly into churches and museums and know that there is much more to see than we are discovering but the thickness of the tourists and the heat of the day make us long to find a quiet park in which to read away the afternoon. Like the carnival masks in the store windows, Venice feels as though it’s wearing a disguise designed for the benefit of the thousands of tourists that walk the streets. We wish we could see behind it, but we never spot a crack.
We leave that evening via water taxi which drops us at the train station. It is jammed and smelly , and I end up holding Langston on my lap so he can take pictures out of the grimy window. For some reason, the train feels more real to us than all of Venice and we are delighted when the doors shut and we begin our ride back to Franco’s home. She and her nice husband are waiting up for us and it is lovely to return to their simple home and to look out over the valley behind it.