The provenance and patina Venice wears is truly special, some however, only see age and decay.
You need to look beyond the new glass and aluminium commercial shopfronts on the bustling main tourist routes.
You need to get lost down the labyrinths of residential lane ways, canals, small bridges and courtyards where brightly coloured washing is hanging out to dry.
You need to look up from the graffiti and grime at street level and see the architectural details, the intricately carved cornices, the hidden figures and plaques.
Just like the countless number of people over the centuries they have sheltered or watched pass by, each building is unique and has its own personality, character and story.
I am glad I had the opportunity to see the real Venice.
Restoration is badly needed to preserve many of the buildings. However, it is my fear Venice will change and not for the better. You just can’t rock into a Dulux paint store and ask for a Venetian Red. ‘Oh and mate, and can you just add a little tint to make it look a hundred years old’, thanks.
I don’t think so.
I believe it will slowly become all clean, shiny and glittery, like the Venetian masks on sale to the hordes of tourists which flood its streets each day demanding pretty things.
The iconic and much romanticised bucket list item ‘The Gondola Ride’ is already a victim of corporate big business and tourism. Surly Gondoliers now stand disinterested like operators at an amusement park, demanding exorbitant fixed fees for short rides. God forbid you ask them to sing as well, you better have very deep pockets for that to happen my friend.
I did not see the pride and skill of Gondoliers plying their craft that is steeped in history and tradition. I did not see the romance between lovers embracing while being serenaded.
So for these reasons, no, I did not ride in a gondola in Venice.
Instead we brought a reasonably priced 24 hour Vaporetto (ferry) ticket and spent the day wandering the wonderfully colourful islands of Murano and Burano. On the way back we stayed on board the ferry past our stop and enjoyed a twilight cruise right around and through the canals of Venice as the sun slowly set.
May you always be Venezia and please, please don’t become ‘Veniceland’