Midnight in Paris is one of my personal favorite films. The setting is obviously incredibly beautiful and the cinematography is exquisite. If you haven’t ever since the film yourself, here’s the gist of the plot: a man named Gill goes to Paris with his fiancée and her parents to prepare for their wedding. While in Paris, Gill gets transported back in time while walking around the city at night. He “spends a night” in 1920s Paris and is completely enthralled with the past era and all of its quirks. The city of Paris is completely transferred back into the 1920s era every night and Gill gets to keep living out this fantasy of traveling around 1920s Paris and meeting important figures of that time. I feel like I myself am transported back in time while wandering around the streets of Venice. Since the city is so historical and all of the buildings have stayed the same for hundreds of years, its hard not to feel as though you have been transported back in time yourself.
While walking around Piazza San Marco, I can picture the square transforming back into a different era. One where the Doge would make proclamations from this palace and merchants would be lining the streets selling their goods to people from foreign and far away lands. I can picture the clockmaker winding up the clock every 12 hours. I can picture the Venetians sitting outside to enjoy an evening meal with a glass of wine. It’s easy to picture a different time in a place that is so full of history and doesn’t try to hide that. Having this sensation makes me feel less like a tourist.
The first couple of days in Venice I felt a bit out of place, almost as though the Venetian and other tourists even didn’t want me here. After learning some basic phrases like “prendo” and “permiso” I feel a little more at ease I suppose. I feel like I don’t stick out like a sore thumb. I feel comfortable finding my way around the city, ordering food, and asking locals for directions if I ever get lost. Just spending time in the actual city of Venice and figuring out what works and what doesn’t work has made me feel so much more like a traveler, rather than an unwanted tourist.
Today was jam packed with walking tours and activities. In the morning, a small group of us caught the vaporetto into the mainland for a morning with Emily. She showed us the open air market and fish market in the Rialto area. We got to feast on the most amazing fresh strawberries I have ever tasted and dried mango for breakfast, as well as a delicious cappuccino for a caffeine pick-me-up. After waking up a bit and filling our stomachs, Emily took us on a small architectural walking tour around some of the campi. We talked a lot about Venetian gothic and the difference between that and medieval gothic styles.
After hooking back up with the group, we went on another more comprehensive architectural walking tour with Dino. We got to explore many of the different churches that are crowded around the campi in Venice, including Basilica San Marco. That building is exquisite. I’ve never been completely speechless after viewing a building, but Basilica San Marco had that effect on me. You feel so small and insignificant while walking around the Basilica. The ceilings are so grand and covered in gold. The scale of the building is astounding, especially in a city where space is tight and most buildings are quite small.
After ambling around the city and discussing architecture for a few hours, we made our way down to Sant’Elena area of Venice on the opposite side of the island. This area is completely different than the other areas of Venice that we had explored on the previous days. There were wide open spaces and trees galore, a rarity in the center of the city. We walked through Napoleon’s garden and the section where the Biennale is held. This area is so incredibly beautiful; words won’t do it justice. It was peaceful, serene, and quiet. After spending a few days in Venice, I’ve found that quiet streets don’t really exist. Every street and alleyway is bustling with people chatting animatedly. Spending some time in Sant’Elena was a nice little break from the usual hustle and bustle of the Venice streets.
Today was definitely my favorite day so far. I finally feel like a traveler instead of an annoying tourist. I have learned so much about this gorgeous city thanks to the walking tours we embark on. I feel comfortable finding my way to different campi or our designated meeting place with my friends. Venice is going to be a hard place to leave when the time comes, but I’m not thinking about my departure just yet. There’s too much left to explore and learn in this city.