by Melinda Gallo

Arriving in the city of sighs

We arrived at the Santa Lucia train station in Venice a little before noon today. This is the first time I had ever come to Venice and I wasn't sure what to expect. I've seen many photos of Venice, of the canals, and of the Carnevale. And everyone I know said it was beautiful, but too touristy. But I wanted to see it with my own eyes.

Living in Florence :: Arriving in the city of sighs

We walked out of the train station and down the steps in front of us. And there we were, looking out onto the Canal Grande only a few feet away from us. Buildings and hotels were lined up one by one, standing on the other side of the Canal Grande. Boat taxis and vaporetti (the Venetian water buses) sailed by picking up people and dropping them off.

I could feel Venice welcoming me. Its warm humid air, the sun reflecting off of the Canal Grande, the smiles on everyone's faces, its warm pastel-colored buildings, the gondole floating by, and the hypnotic sound of the water splashing against the foundation of the buildings.

We decided to walk to our apartment instead of taking the vaporetto. With each step, Venice became more and more beautiful. Each building we walked past, each sliver of canal we saw, each bridge we walked over, and each corner we turned. And as we headed to the center of town, I was slowly and certainly falling in love.

I've heard that Venice has this effect on people, but I didn't know how strongly I would feel it. While Florence is a beautiful city that beckons you to adore it, Venice is a city that embraces you the instant you arrive. You can feel its warmth and beauty all around you, enveloping you softly.

We made a few bad turns and ended up in dead ends that arrived on a pontile (small wharf) or in a cul-de-sac. But, we didn't really care. How can you get stressed out in a city so enchanting?

Some of the Venetians would come up to us and ask us if we were lost or if we needed help. They know that even with a map, the maze of streets and bridges can be quite confusing to those who have just arrived. And, with my added feelings of giddiness, it was difficult for me to pay attention and figure out where to go. I was so caught up in the beauty of this magnificent city that even being lost, I was enjoying it.

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