Monday, January 28, 2008

A Writer in Venice

I want to be the American ambassador to Venice, Italy. I know I am the perfect person to have this job. I truly believe that any woman who had the same Venetian experience I just had would race to her travel agent tomorrow morning and book a ticket. Surely, most women have a sense that Italy in general is good for her ego. It’s true. Venice is gentlemanly. Venice is flattering. Venice is Prozac.

And I think I might just have to stop reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love simply because she does not agree with me. She calls Venice melancholy and sad. Oh, how I wish I could have taken Gilbert on this trip with me. Of course, she is in love with Rome. And, I suppose, every woman should be able to love the Italian city of her choosing. So, I will keep reading her fine book.

The highlights of the trip were many, but foremost had to be sharing the trip with two of my best girlfriends – an art curator and a photographer. (Several native Venetians stopped to ask my friend “What do you like to photo?”)

The first thing you should know is why we chose Venice. I was there with my husband last April. I fell in love with the city not only for its place in history, but for its beautiful decay. With the sun-washed colors of the palazzos. No one structure is the same color from canal to roof, but rather, a wonderful blend of shades and layers. Sort of like your favorite girlfriends. So, I felt my heart ache as the airport shuttle dragged me away from the city. As fate would have it, when I returned home my first ever advance check was in the mailbox. Not wanting this incredible earning to go for anything mundane (like a new washer and dryer or steel belted tires for my car) I searched for a trip that would match both the joy I felt at becoming published and the amount of the check itself. (Okay, so maybe I had more joy than money, but I decided it was still possible to celebrate.)

What I found was four nights in off season, cold and foggy Venice in January on the cusp of Carnivale. In a time of year the locals call “brutto tempo.” Bad weather. No matter. The idea of fog on the canals lured me in. My art curator friend couldn't wait to see the Guggenheim Museum. And my photographer friend, Gail, couldn't wait to photograph local Venetians buying the catch of the day at the Rialto Market.

I hope you enjoy these photos.

Next week, Part Two of my trip diary, Harry's Bar and the experience with a red-headed gondolier that I wish a romance novelist would write about.



Karen Harrington is the author of JANEOLOGY, the story of one man's struggle to understand his wife and her sudden descent into madness.

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