I went travelling to Venice a couple of years back with a German friend. While I had heard a zillion times that it’s a romantic paradise, a honeymooners getaway and such, I was far happier travelling alone to this lovely place. Somehow, its more fun exploring places on solo trips..you get to walk where you want, stop at shops you like, eat where you like and maybe idle away time under a random tree and just reflect on like…I am not unromantic per say, but I just feel you can do so much more when you are on solo travel trips.
This was one such trip…and I loved it! Venice is an artists delight. It can be the art as well as the muse. This place got me inspired in art (and believe me when I say that I am not at all an art inclined person).
Venice is a labyrinth of small-constricted roads that seem just like from a fairy tale. The lovely cobbled streets run intertwined with the waterways there. Small boats or rather water-taxi’s and speed boats ferry the tourist crowds from one location to another. On one side of the water-ways, there are shops selling sea-food, restaurants serving authentic Italian fare, small bistros with tables lined by the waterways where you can sit, order an Espresso, which by the way is the norm in Italy for afternoon coffee and spend time watching the boats as they come in, or listen to the flock of sea-gulls argue amongst themselves, probably discussing about their catches for the day or whatever else that has happened in their lazy lives. Across the bridge over the canal, are the Bed and Breakfast hotels that have an old world mystic charm about them.
I stayed in a place called Domus Orsoni, which was basically a glass Mosaic factory converted into a Bed and Breakfast. The place had five beautiful rooms, each unique in their Glass mosaic structures and décor. Below the B&B, the stairs led to a spectacular glass mosaic-manufacturing factory. The lady managing the place gave us a small tour around. Men melted and dyed the glass during processing. Lovely ladies then worked on making small chips from the coloured glass and made them ready for the final art.
The place also offered learning programmes for Mosaic wherein a person could choose a time period of as short as 3 days to as long as a month or sometimes even longer if you wished. Photo frames, mirrors, glass lamps …the things you can create using these beautiful mosaic chips are endless. I was tempted to learn the craft but I had a very short time in this place..So, I decided to pick up some bags of these chips and bring them home to create something beautiful. So, while the chips still lie un-experimented with my cupboard, there is a sense of happiness when I look at them every time and relive my time in Venice via them.
Walking further down the cobbled pathways, into the heart of the town, life became even more interesting. Chaos became evident – mainly because of the rush of tourists (yes..even in the chilly month of October). I began to notice local life in all its glory. A small stand was set-up in the middle of the street where a local was selling roasted chestnuts. How could I resist them? It was cold and the warm, roasted and toasty chestnuts called out to my soul..One bagful and I was a happy girl. Shops on the side of the roads became even more colourful..Scores of shops selling Venetian masks starting appearing. The masks – commanding a prime place in the shop-windows beckoned passerbys. Some teasing, some taunting, some mysterious and some simply commanding. Each looked as if it had a story to tell…something hidden in its heart..maybe love,maybe lust, maybe anger or maybe plain innocence.
The waterways made their appearance again and this time, lovely Gondolas slithered by. Of course, they have been so overly hyped as the “Best Romantic gesture” when in Italy, that the price for a one hour Gondola ride was something that I could simply not find any logic into. I skipped it and I have absolutely no qualms in doing that. I don’t live to tell tales of how I did what basically everyone considers an absolute must in any location. I live to tell tales of experiences from my eyes.
The bridges became many and walking over one too many of them, I came across another smaller street but this time with a few interesting shops. One of them was this absolutely incredible Pasta shop. These people actually made all the pastas there and sold them in the shop out front. Was an absolute delight. I ended up buying a frill shaped pasta that I didn’t even know existed anywhere.
Further walking down the street, there was another shop selling juices, fruit salads and guess what?? Glasses of Sangria. This was what stopped in right in my tracks for a break. No one can resist Sangria…and especially on a holiday. One glass and yes (they did have takeaway glasses) and I went hunting for a quiet stop somewhere away from the crowds to sit in silence and enjoy my drink. A lone tree decided to offer me company and there I was, under the tree on a wooden bench happily sipping my drink, observing various people, the locals, the tourists, the various shops and small pets that went following their owners. This is what was something I call as “My alone time in my alone place”. I was in a place that had people all around but I still had my alone moments. This is what my life craves from time to time.
The day was nearing the end and dinner was just round the corner in the form of an Italian restaurant offering a decent Margarita pizza. I say fairly decent because no pizza in this world can match the one I had in Florence. The warm oozing cheese and the ripe tomato sauce with the woodfired base…Some memories etch themselves in your heart. I doubt if I can ever replace this pizza memory with another ever.
Venice can also be called an Art but it also acts as the muse. It turns non-artists into artists (even for sometime). The water-ways leave a lasting memory and for some, the smells and sights get implanted into the minds as a long-lost dream. The squawks of the sea-gulls and the breeze remind me that I should return back to this place someday again in my life.