That’s Venezia St. Lucia in a nutshell. But it doesn’t do justice to the network of twisting canals and tangled alleyways, blending into each other and suggesting twenty different routes towards the same destination. It’s so much more than that.
If you’re looking for a detailed account of every street I walked, reviews for all the restaurants I tried, or a blow-by-blow account of my day, you best clear off now. You won’t find that here. On the other hand, if you like photographs and vivid imagery with interspersed poetry read on. It might even get introspective—who knows what’ll happen? Oh and just fair warning: I love expletives.
All clear? Lovely. Let’s get back to Venezia.
The banks of the canals are perfumed with salt—seawater without the emphasis of rolling waves breaking on the sand. Instead, there’s the slap of lovers fucking as water jumps against the stone barriers. Seaweed clings along the rocks—evidence of changing tides—and splaying across stairwells disappearing into the gloom. Green melted plastic growing dehydrated in the sun, musky and putrid. But at least it’s better than the occasional sewage stench that pervades some alleys, where dogs have left their urine to bask with their forgotten shit.
But to be honest, I barely noticed the smell. Okay, I noticed, but I hardly cared—I was in Venice. It felt like I’d fallen into a fairy tale or some vivid dream, one that I was sure I’d wake up from any moment. Even now, it feels surreal.
The people winded through roads too small for bicyclists, let alone cars. It created a flowing river of bodies, tourists pushing along pre-arranged paths lined with souvenir shops and vendors calling, “Selfie, selfie,” after their retreating backs. At brick bridges with canal access, gondola owners tried to procure riders at flat prices—growing disinterested the instant you mention you’re broke.
It’s a city that breathes with the tides, pulling its people in and out of doorways, holding a wineglass in one hand and a dog-leash in the other. The bricks melt into each other, sag from the weight of sea-dust and age, turning alleyway tunnels into stout mazes. Where the water is teal—that perfect mix of blue and green with emphasis on the latter. Where sea dragons glide smoothly across the water, cutting the surface with necks of gold, charcoal black against milky green, utterly silent as it passes by growling behemoths that spit jets of water.
I remember sitting at the end of the boardwalk, near Sant’Elena.
The sun cast a long line across the heaving water—a candle flickering in liquid wind, waiting until the rolling waves swallowed its golden light. Waves, which rose and fell, clashing in the middle—creating a spine of foaming white before wrenching apart and folding across the vibrant green and turning it dark. But the seaweed that splayed across the concrete boat launch beneath my dangling feet looked more like the matted hair of mermaids cast upon the shore, glistening in the receding sunlight. Cracked, splintered mussel shells like royal blue glass shards were scattered among the strands. Jewels for drowned beauty.
It was a wasteland of sea debris until you looked closer and saw it fluttering with tiny wings, flies bouncing and resting, stealing sips and breathing light back into the green, then fleeing the embrace of the sea.
I see Venus a’ shining.
I see vendors throwin’ light
I see canals a’ winding.
I see Venice at night.
Don’t fall in the water,
Hold that Prosecco real tight
There is Venus shining bright.
I hear gondolas a’ rowing.
I flee from cheap tourist tricks.
I hear seawater a’ jumping.
I hate all the selfie sticks.
Know you’re lucky you went twice.
But I’m already missing brine.