by Melinda Gallo

Ah...Venezia

We left the sunny, blue skies in Florence and headed north to Venice on an early morning Eurostar train. As we traveled north, the skies became grayer and the sun slowly disappeared. When we walked out of the Santa Lucia train station and looked out on the Canal Grande, we didn't care that it was cloudy or even much colder. We had arrived in Venice--a place so enchanting that weather has no affect on its beauty.

I always feel so fortunate every time I'm able to visit Venice. To me, it is a place where my entire life seems to take on a different perspective. My heart bursts open the second I arrive and I wonder how I could've kept myself away for so long.

Each time I come to Venice, I walk down the calli (narrow streets) and ask Dave, "And if we lived here?" He would also love to live here as there is something magical and mysterious about this city.

The first time I came back from a trip to Venice I told a few of my Florentine friends how much I'd love to move here. The first thing that popped out of their mouths was, "I veneziani sono chiusi e freddi." (The Venetians are distant and cold). I always laugh because that's the same thing people say about the Florentines. Not that they're freddi, but that they're chiusi. I also asked my other Italian friends who live in Rome and Milan what they think of Venice. Each one tells me how beautiful it is, but that "i veneziani sono chiusi e freddi." When I ask them to compare Florence to Venice, they usually say that i fiorentini sono pi? chiusi. (the Florentines are even more distant).

When I go into shops and restaurants in Venice, the people here are quite nice to me. I have never been spoken to rudely or not greeted when I walk in. Personally, I find them much happier than the Florentines in the more touristy areas. When I go into places where I know the people in Florence, of course, everything is different since we have a "relationship" now. I am almost always treated with great respect and kindness.

Even if the shopkeepers and restaurant staff in Venice hissed at me and chased me out the second I set foot into their establishments, I'd still want to live here. There is something magical about Venice that I've never found elsewhere. If I were to explain everything I love about the city, I probably wouldn't be able to. I love the bright pastel buildings, the clean(er) streets, the teal-colored water in the small canals that flow past the streets, the absence of cars, the vaporetti (water buses) filled with people traveling up and down the Canal Grande, the campi (piazze/squares) with many outdoor cafés and restaurants, and the well-kept artistically-rich buildings.

But those items are only what I visually appreciate. Inside, I feel like I'm in love. I feel a blanket of peace surrounding me when I'm in Venice. Comfort and joy run through me.

I embrace the mystery of my feelings for Venice. I enjoy everything about Venice and indulge myself in all of its beauty--visual and other. I would love to stay in Venice and yet I know I don't need to hold onto this city so tightly out of fear of losing it. I do know that my love for Venice will always exist no matter if I'm here or not because I take Venice with me wherever I go.

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