Come un sogno…..but much more than a dream.
I think it was towards the end of 2005 that I started thinking about how I wanted to celebrate my 60th birthday although it was still three years away. When planning a big trip I like to start early.
I considered India and spending the 12th of December at the Taj Mahal. Hmm, but it wasn’t really a place I would be comfortable going alone and really didn’t want to spend all that time with a group of people I didn’t know. So I thought and thought and decided that one place I’d never been but always wanted to see was Venice, Italy.
The planning began. I bought guidebooks, researched on the internet and read everything I could get my hands on. One Sunday morning I was doing my usual thing; having my breakfast while watching CBS Sunday Morning and they did a piece on a company called “Untours”. It was a company that did all the legwork for you, airfare, reservations for two weeks in an apartment, transportation while you are there and a local contact if you had questions. Otherwise you were on your own. It sounded just like my cup of tea. I immediately looked them up on the internet. Yes, they had a Venice “untour” but the last date was the last week of October and first week of November which would mean celebrating my December 12 birthday more than a month early. Little did I know then how easy it would be in years to come to book all of this myself and how delightful Venice is in December….but that came much later.
I booked their Casino apartment (located near the Venice Casino) for that last two week period in 2008.
I was met at Marco Polo Airport and transported to my apartment in a gorgeous water taxi. Arriving by water is the only way to arrive in Venice as far as I’m concerned. I felt like a princess standing in the back of this sleek, water borne limo and thought maybe I should be waving to the crowds. No, there really weren’t any crowds and the cheering was only in my head.
The apartment even had its own private garden.
The kitchen was stocked with basics and food enough for a light supper that night and breakfast the next morning. And to make sure I was up and about there would be an orientation walking tour the next morning also. So much for sleeping in and recovering from jet lag!
But who could sleep on a morning like this?
There were two other couples and me on this late October morning. We met with Denny the Untours local contact who took us on a two hour tour of some very small calles and over what seemed to me like 100 bridges (really maybe five). Then we stopped for a “spritz” the national drink of Venice. Since I don’t drink I had the non alcoholic version…a soft drink called Gingerino which I have grown to love and find the taste impossible to describe.
We would be meeting the next evening for a performance at Musica a Palazzo, held in an old palazzo on the Grand Canal. It had been described as like being at a private party in a palazzo and that was indeed the feeling you got. Very intimate with chairs around several rooms and the different acts moved to different rooms.
I was beginning to fall under the magical spell of what has become the City of My Dreams as I left my companions and wandered the calles towards Piazza San Marco. The orchestras were playing and I was on my own for nearly two weeks to do what I wanted, when I wanted down calles and over bridges and since I had a pass….ride the vaporetto as much as I felt like.
The following is a selection of my photos taken with a tiny point and shoot camera which I have upgraded twice since then so if the pictures aren’t quite up to what you have come to expect from me rest assured that I am much better now and so is my camera….although she does still lead me where she wants me to go.
A chocolate filled window reminiscent of one of my favorite books “Chocolat”.
Atilla and friends. I discovered that Dingo had a cat adoption center two doors from my apartment. The lady who described herself (through a passerby who interpreted for us) as the “cats’ secretary” told me that he is the boss of the neighborhood.
Little did I know nearly seven years ago how often I would traverse this campo…which harbors my favorite hardware store and the church where Vivaldi was baptized.
Or how often this would be my route to Piazza San Marco.
In the past years I have returned to Venice three times. In 2012 when I went for my birthday which happened to fall on 12/12/12 I realized that I had to live there. I returned for another month a year later as my retirement gift to myself in December 2013. It only confirmed my dream to make Venice my home.
As my lovely Italian teacher has taught me:
“Io ho un sogno nel cassetto di prendere residenza a Venezia un giorno”
(I have a dream in a box to take up residence in Venice one day)
It is equal to saying “I have a dream in my heart” which indeed I do.