The city flooded when I was there exactly a year ago. Locals say it happens every autumn with the heavy rainfall.
I don’t remember why I didn’t write about Venice after my trip across Europe, but I do remember thinking that the city was sinking, and wondering what would happen if the flooding never stopped.
I remember walking down the slippery steps of the train station and standing in front of a city on water. I remember the flood reaching my knees. I remember prepared locals who went about their business in rain boots around St. Mark’s Square while tourists struggled to walk on make-shift catwalks hoisted above the water by bricks. I remember the crisp feel of winter in the air.
I remember trying to find my hostel within the narrow alleys that twisted, turned, and intersected. I remember walking on bridges big and small and just about tossing the map into the canal in despair. I remember eavesdropping on one American couple asking for directions at a restaurant and laughing at the waiter’s instructions that repeated “left, right, left, bridge; left, right, left, bridge”.
I remember counting the number of garbage boats that floated by on the canal and marveling at the Venetian version of waste control. I remember window-shopping outside of tiny storefronts with glistening Venetian masks hanging in the windows. I remember spying on tourists in gondolas as the oarsmen steered them around the lagoon. Even though the striped shirts of the gondoliers were all for show, I remember thinking how timeliness it seemed.
I remember eating pizza next to a middle-aged couple who held hands across the table as they dined. I remember sitting behind a group of Italian friends on the vaporetto – the water bus – as they pointed out historical buildings to each other.
Despite the rain, I remember Venice in vivid colours. I also remember wishing that I didn’t have to leave so soon.