I would never had imagined that Venice could be so beautiful in winter.
I had been there several times in the summer. Once, as a student, travelling through Europe after graduating from college, I stayed in a convent with two of my female companions. There was an inner courtyard behind huge closed gates, and to one side, a dormitory for women. That remains a treasured memory – the rickety cots, the funny little sinks, the nuns, the quiet, secret courtyard for contemplation.
Two years ago, my husband and I wanted to go on a New Years trip. And a friend of ours, who has a house in Lake Como, Italy, suggested we go to Venice. Really? we thought. In the winter? But we were to be surprised in the most delightful way. The winter holiday is a time when Europeans and Italians escape to Venice for a brief holiday. The city is not full of tourists as it often is — rather, it is populated with very well dressed people. The restaurants are lively but not packed. The alleys are strung with white lights – very festive. And it is much warmer than expected.
This photo of me in the rain was taken on the only rainy days in the 10 days were were there. It captures the ethereal quality of Venice, all faded and dream-like. For most of the days we were there, the weather was spring-like, and the light slanted in a certain way across the water and the facades of ancient buildings. That light, that diffusion, those faded colours – all of it made you understand the artistic impulse, the desire to somehow capture it in a painting. It almost other worldly,
born of imagination.
On our last morning, when a water taxi came to the nearest canal to collect us from our sweet little hotel, the light was the most magical. It was maybe 7:30 am in the morning. We were headed to the airport. As we emerged into the Grand Canal. My husband and I stood up in the water taxi to take in the view. The buildings were pink in the morning light. No one was about. We felt transported to another time, and imagined how returning sailors in the 16th century must have felt when they returned from their adventures to Venice. We held each other’s hand, and didn’t speak a word. That Venice moment is a lasting memory, too.