Part VII | Venice in the Rain

"We woke up slowly in Monterosso, listening to the birds singing, wind in the palm branches, waves crashing in the distance. It's cloudy, a cool breeze tussling about the room, sneaking in through the open patio door. We enjoyed some delicious cuddling, savoring what might be our last chance to sleep in. The sheets are white and crisp here, nowhere but breakfast needing our attention.

A croissant with nutella and a machine-made cappuccino were all that I wanted. Today I am content with less. Our bags are packed. My lover went for a walk while I write and reflect, snuggled up in bed enjoying the fresh air, waves, and birdsong. I think I'll close my eyes now...

We speed along smoothly from Monterosso to Venice, sailing along seamless tracks through rain and clouds, countryside and patina-laden villages. He listens; I read. We enjoy a picnic lunch of sandwiches, chips, wafer cookies, espresso and water from the food car.

Once we arrived in Venice, Ulianna found us and escorted us to a private water taxi that carried us to our hotel. The world of water streets is fascinating. Canals the color of jade. Sea gulls crying. Motors humming. Stuccoed and ornamented building growing up from moss and barnacle-covered bases. Steps lead down into watery openings. Bridges are scattered here and there connecting this magical phenomena of man-made islands. Water taxis, speed boats, gondolas, and barges litter the canals, a traffic unique to Venice where drivers weave deftly through with shouts, hollering, and manly humor - clearly a camaraderie they are happy to be part of. 

Eventually, we disembark on a cobblestone street and bid farewell to our transfer at Hotel Panisana. Our accommodations are tight but comfortable. The walls are a dove gray paneled in soft buttery yellow, creamy scrolling trim work parting the hues. Ornate Venetian etchings grace each panel, green and gold drapes frame the tall windows. Once open, the windows give us a lovely breeze of cool air and we can see the secret courtyard below, vines climbing the red brick walls, roses blooming, the grass unkempt but perfectly charming. A verdant-tinted chandelier gives us light from above, white sheets beckoning below. 

We refreshed, charted a course on our new map and set off to enjoy our first hour in Venice. And then it poured.

Our trailblazing began with a few raindrops which promptly turned into a torrential downpour, quickly soaking this water world and all its inhabitants. Reluctant to turn back, we ducked into a gelatteria and found comfort in the form of a warm waffle slathered in nutella. Mmmmmmm. Not wanting to waste too much time waiting for the rain to pass, we braved the Zattere again, carefully capturing with a scarf-covered camera as we went. 

It was unfortunate to be so hampered, but I realized that the puddle-strewn cobblestone streets were glorious in their reflection of sky and scenery as we saw Venice in a wetter, cleaner way. The colors were deeper and more saturated with their fresh coat of rain. Venice had been washed. 

We bought a flimsy umbrella from a peddler and made the most of our wet walk. Structure after structure exclaimed Venice's rich and magnificent past. Columns, statues and layers of grandeur echoed the history of the celebration of beauty, learning, and a pride in not only excellence but elegance

I hopped in a few puddles on Alice's behalf and with wet sandals and numb toes we returned to the hotel to dry off, get warm, and change for dinner. Our quest for La Zucca was a winding one, frequently consulting The Map, looking for the severely abbreviated street names donning corners, and turning around more than once. The sun set while we walked and I captured the most amazing photo of it on a bridge, rays bursting from behind the roof line.

We finally made it to the restaurant, but they were already full and not taking more guests, so in disappointment we wandered a few blocks further and sat down at a restaurant by the name of Muro for fries, pasta, curry, bread, and red and white wine. 'Twas delicious and perfectly satisfying.

After stuffing ourselves, we tipsily got lost in the dark. (Note to self: don't drink two carafes of wine when you are a mile away from your destination and you have to walk back through an unknown labyrinth of streets in the dark. And then don't absolutely insist that your internal GPS has not been compromised by said wine and that you can of course pioneer the way back by intuition and scant memory. It does not end well.) JD navigated us back to the hotel where we promptly snoozed away.

On our winding return journey, I had spotted the most beautiful book with a white floral pattern and hoped against hope that we could return but I gave it up straight away to avoid disappointment. What were the chances that we could find it again?"

Heather Hall