Gaye, my wife, emerges from the Venezia Santa Lucia train station and is in love.
Barely two steps out of the station, wonder appears: the Grand Canal, the Vaporetto stations, the bridges across the canal and the lapping of the Adriatic Sea against the footings of colourful buildings. Reality proves to be even better than postcards. No surprise that The New York Times judges Venice as "undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man.”
We have yet to lug our carry-on bags up and over the crowded Ponte Degli Scalzi bridge and, within seven minutes, find our elegant, third-floor lodging overlooking a canal in the Santa Croce neighbourhood.
We have yet to discover the Basilica S.Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Saint Mark's Basilica, the beauty of the Grand Canal seen from the crowded railing of a Vaporetto, the tasty and affordable dining at the two restaurants at the foot on our stairs, the fascinating glass jewellery in the MurrinaMurano Shop or the beautiful gloves from Naples in Fanny Gloves.
Still, Gaye feels an instant connection, a sense of being at home, refreshed by beauty.
We have been to other places of great beauty. We live in Victoria, Beautiful British Columbia. Travel up the Pacific coast and wonder at the inlets, and the traditional home sites of First Nations, visit the Okanagan and hike or drive through the Rocky Mountains, not to mention the rest of Canada. Our list of blessings derived from the natural includes Maui, the Grand Canyon, and Sedona.
Natural beauty refreshes and can be found wherever the spirit is set free to see; yet Venice strikes a different chord.
Of course, Venice contains many sites worth seeing. Wander the streets and alleyways. Follow a quest to locate some artisan. Discover.
To be immersed in an imaginative creation in a beautiful setting enlarges the world and extends the boundaries of possibility.
Who would have dreamed that linking 118 small islands would produce a city that was, at one time, a maritime, financial and artistic powerhouse?
The apartment we have booked looks out over a piazza and canal. I hang out the window and watch the gondolas, the ambulances and police cruisers, the assorted craft that collect the garbage and recycling, and that deliver Amazon parcels. A scent of basil, oregano and rosemary wafts up from the ristorantes perched by the canal. The laughter and conversation of the diners scattered in the piazza and along the banks of the canal seasons the sounds of the night.
“So beautiful,” she says as she comes up behind me.
Are there places of beauty you intentionally seek out to help balance life?