Foreign Writes — off to Venice.
Three weeks in La Serenissima, justified, if a visit to Venice ever demanded a reason, by my need to do on-site research, soak up the atmosphere of this immortal city, and find inspiration for my current project — a Young Adult novel, working title Taking Venice. Set in the early 1500’s, it chronicles the coming of age of a young woman, orphaned by the plague, and brought to Venice by her wealthy uncle to be companion to her partially crippled cousin. Initially disgusted by the extravagence and glitz of the world’s richest city, Catarina d’Armano is gradually seduced by the city’s glamour and by her cousin’s paid-for fiance. Catarina will struggle to find out who she really is.
After much internet research, we’ve booked an Air B&B apartment that looks promising. Endless hours of travel with a stop in Amsterdam, and we arrive at the Marco Polo International Airport on a late September morning. Despite the time of year, it is hot and humid and we’re moist by the time we leave the terminal for the “5 minute’ walk to the boat that will take us into the city. Pulling our maximum-weight bags, we trudge for what seems like miles to the tragetto stop — we are more than moist by now. Eventually the boat arrives and a crowd is clamoring to get aboard — all with luggage at least equal to ours. We climb down into the passenger cabin, wedged between equally humid travelers. Only one of the windows actually lowers, and the temperature rises.
We set off for the city at a snail’s pace, fighting the wakes of private motor taxis that zoom by, their passengers looking smug and breeze-cooled, doubting the wisdom of our economy transportation choice. But when our boat enters the Grand Canal, our griping ceases. It is just as improbable as always — a fairy tale dream you couldn’t make up. Our host, Andrea, is waiting, as promised, at the Rialto Bridge stop. Frail though he appears, he has no trouble hoisting one of our over-stuffed bags up and over the canal bridges as we follow him toward Campo Manin and then into Calle Santo Paternian, so narrow I can nearly touch the walls on either side with outstretched arms.
He opens a door and we heave our bags up three flights of steep stairs to our Venice home. The combined kitchen/dining area and the living room are a bit more rustic than I imagined from the pictures. We climb another flight of stairs to the bedroom, bathroom — and the terrace.
It takes my breath away, and reminds me of why we chose this apartment. This is where I will spend my afternoons writing, while looking over the red-tiled roofs of Venice, listening to the city’s bell towers chime the hours. This is where we will have our afternoon wine while munching addictive taralli. This is where we will dine by candle light, listening to Vivaldi recordings on my lap top.