I recently travelled to the city of Venice, crested as one of the most romantic and breathtaking cities in the world. Venice is situated in the North East of Italy and is made up of one hundred small islands in the middle of a lagoon. Its most popular attractions include St Marks Square, the Basilica, the Rialto Bridge and the Grand Canal which winds its way through the main island.
Upon arriving in Venice, after travelling across the lagoon on a small boat, seeing as the only transport to the island is boats, due to the fact that there are no roads, we were met with a city guide, who was to take us on a tour around the city showing us its hidden gems alongside all of the famous sites that you expect to see in Venice. To do this, he decided to show us what he called the ‘real Venice’, which consisted of a walk around the dark backstreets which winded and turned in what felt like every direction. After arriving at midday in the baking heat, the backstreets were a welcoming oasis of shade and serenity after the business of the landing port on the front facing side of the island where the boat dropped us off. It was quiet, alarmingly quiet, however charming at the same time, as we meandered around the small alley walls, discovering a treasure strove of tiny shops selling everything from deliciously expensive leather handbags to tacky souvenirs. Upon this walk, I noticed the deterioration of some of the buildings which seemed to tower over the tiny walkways, the sun kissed walls starting to tarnish, starting to grime with the dirt of the city, and windowpanes seeming to be clouded by a dust of a time long since passed. And this was when the tour guide told us the sad truth about this beautiful and unique timely city- Venice was becoming a museum. Over recent years, more and more of the Venetians have moved away from what was once a paradise for the rich. We were told of how the workers lived on the islands nearby, or from towns on the edge of the lagoon, where it was cheaper and a higher quality of life was available. Away from Venice there was more to do for the young people, higher paid jobs, and larger houses with gardens for family.
As dusk started to fall over the city, the sky became streaked with a kaleidoscope of orange and pink and the waters of the Grand Canal became still, nostalgic for the earlier paths of the gondolas and watertaxis, which provided such pleasure for the tourists who visited in the day and left Venice untouched by nightfall. The old opera house sleeps in the slumbers of the city’s labyrinths, whilst the Rialto bridge stands proud over the canal, remembering days of when it was used by the locals both day and night.
It seems that once the old generations of Venetians fade, so will the city, which will leave in its wake, a museum of memories of what once was.