Do believe in magic?
I do, but then I'm a writer, and writers are great believers in magic. We dream up stories, write them down and make them real--if that's not magic, what is?
But until recently I hadn't realized that there were truly magical places in the world, places where enchantment is the norm and not the exception--a place like Venice.
It was my first visit to Italy, and as I tend to approach travel from a historical stance, I did my homework and learned that the people who would become the first Venetians fled to the lagoon on the Adriatic to escape the "barbarians" that swarmed the mainland after mighty Rome's fall.
|Lady Venice's Triumph over Italy|
The Doge's Palace
This isolation proved advantageous and during the middle ages the Republic of Venice became a great empire, ruled by a series of Doges, a series of pompous-looking white guys in funny hats.
Though interesting none of this sparked my imagination and all those pudgy Doges paled, especially when compared to a Caesar or Medici.
Or maybe it was the hat. I really didn't like the hat.
And then I'd heard all the stories about the beauty and romance of Venice, stories sounded too good to be true. Wasn't that just travel-book fluff?
My husband and I arrived in the afternoon and while I was charmed by the gondolas and labyrinthine streets, and enjoyed the tour of the Doge's Palace, something was missing. After an early evening rain, my husband and I walked back to San Marco's Square.
The Piazzo was almost deserted, at least by Venetian standards. We walked up and down the Piazzo, listening to the various orchestras in front of restaurants, stopping if we heard something we liked.
An Adriatic breeze had blown the last of the storm clouds away, and the sky was a unique shade of indigo blue. I was gazing at the silhouette of the winged lion of St. Mark, and at that moment, the violist started playing Moon River.
And that's when it hit me--the magic of Venice.
The appreciation of true beauty always contains a tinge of sadness, and as the notes of Moon River floated over the Piazzo, I knew that this moment was just that--a single moment that would soon pass. But since nothing gold can stay and beauty doesn't last, we should grab the moment when is comes and hold on for dear life.
The Venetians know this. Their forebears built this city out of desperation and fear. Riding Fortune's Wheel, they won and lost an empire, but they left us this place, and made this beautiful night possible, questa bella notte.
Once back in the States, I put together a video to try to express my experience that magical night.
Venice is my magical place--what's yours?