Morning on the Fondamenta Nuova | Mark Lindsay

A return to Venice is like the reoccurrence of a familiar dream. This should be no surprise as Venice is often more dreamlike than real. If it were not for its sturdy stones we would barely be able to grasp and hold on to much of Venice at all. Perhaps the real Venice lies in its shimmering and amorphous reflections. Looking down into the lagoon and its tributary canals often reveals a truer Venice than the one carved out of Istrian limestone. So the true return to Venice must be by water where one can behold both city against the sky and its wavy and moving mirror image that lies within the sea. That way both dream and reality mingle in the misty light of La Serenissima.

This time 'round I expected the usual bolt of adrenaline that I normally feel during the approach to Venice. Our water taxi bounced heavily against the wake of passing boats and tried to wake me from the stupor of a long journey. Perhaps the jet lag had really nailed me this time or maybe coming back to Venice after only eleven months since our last departure had turned Venice into something regular and familiar. I hoped dearly that it were the former. Thinking of Venice as anything other than extraordinary would be impossible to fathom. Could Venice become something mundane and ordinary? I shuddered at this thought as the boat landed hard into the trough of another wake.

Suddenly the boat slowed as it entered a canal and the city itself. Tourists stared at us as I chronicled the event with my camera. They photographed us as we passed by them. Venice is made carnival by the millions who invade her and love her to death. The carnival is made more real by the odd angles of the city, her buildings having settled askew after centuries of soggy foundations. Tourists roll in with the tide like flotsam and jetsam. Then they stop at the top of just about every bridge to take photos, something that infuriates the locals who are simply trying to get somewhere. One of those tourists stared at me through his long lens as we passed underneath a bridge with wrought-iron railings.

Somehow one forgets the day-trippers in one's Venetian dreams. But the cold reality is there to remind you as soon as you return. Hoards come into the city every morning for a quick fix and leave by sunset. You can recognize them by their flimsy backpacks, water bottles, and general demeanor. They come, they see, they make a beeline for the train station or their cruise ship. And they stop on every bridge they come to and unconsciously block pedestrian traffic.

Our boat crossed the Grand Canal and entered the tiny waterway that fronted our apartment. The ground was still moving after I got off the boat, a sure sign that jet lag was the culprit of my malaise. A good-night's sleep would cure what ailed me. And I would sleep very well among the slapping waves, echoing footsteps and chiming bells of our beloved Venice. My dreams would mingle with amorphous reality of La Serenissima and I would awake to a glorious sunrise across the Giudecca Canal. I knew that this would hardly be ordinary. I fought back my excitement as I drifted off to sleep. The magic of Venice was embracing me again sleep overcame me.

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