Venice and the pursuit of the Golden Fleece - part I
S, my boyfriend, is all over Venice. I’m sure that If he was a child again, he would have asked everything related to Venice for Christmas, and his birthday, and any celebration that implies getting presents. With him, choosing Venice is always a win-win. That’s why this year I decided to impress him for his birthday and booked a weekend holiday to his dream-city to celebrate it there.
However, I am sorry about what I’m going to say next but here it goes:
Venice didn’t impress me that much when I visited it.
I said it. Many of you may feel outraged but hey, what can I say? I just couldn’t find the charm: it was cold, and wet, and the streets were dark and gloomy…in all honesty, I couldn’t understand the love S professed to the city. But I’m not a bad person, and I really want to go further than first impressions, so this trip can help me to redeem myself and try again to fall in love with the city everyone else is in love with.
To get some motivation for the upcoming trip, I decided to give myself a challenge. I was decided to do my research and get ready to explore over the weekend some aspects of the Venetian culture, I hoped that could help me in my particular mission.
I went to the shelf and found a book about the city that I gave to S a while ago -probably, another birthday present. The book is called ‘Venice, an interior’ by Javier Marías (Penguin books, 2016), and it is a translation of the article he wrote 30 years ago for the Spanish newspaper El País. Here he describes not only Venice, but also his impressions about the city and its mysterious citizens.
I have to say the way he describes Venetians captured my attention. They are exotic, mysterious, and only few lucky ones can spot them in the middle of the tourist crowds.
Eccolo quà, I found my challenge straight away!
All I needed to do was to follow the description Mr. Marías meticulously wrote in one of the passages, about how the ‘real venetian’ was back in 1988. I couldn’t help but wonder whether they had changed or they were still as accurate as the description:
“Venetians seem to be on their way to some elegant party at any time of the day or year […]. You can recognize Venetian women in particular by three things: their lovely carved, chiselled, angular faces are always heavily made up like the women in Egon Schiele paintings; they walk very fast; and they have beautiful, toned legs from a lifetime of going up and down steps and crossing bridges”
However, they seem to be difficult to spot, like the Golden Fleece. But hey, where are the Venetian men? Maybe Mr. Marías put a lot of effort contemplating looking for the real Venetian women, so he didn’t have enough time to find, not to mention analyse the other slippery gender.
But, how would I get my particular Golden Fleece? should I design a questionnaire and ask random women who speak Italian, have tone legs and don’t look like tourists to fill it for me? That would be too much work for a mini-holiday, and a bit too intrusive I have to say.
It is therefore that I have decided to go with the old school method and follow my mentor’s technique: observation. If that worked for him, who knows, I can get lucky and find the ‘real Venetian woman’.
Will I find any real Venetian at all? We’ll see. For now, I’m also dreaming of the Spritz and cichetti I will have for my aperitivo on Saturday. I’m sure that is also real Venice.