Even though I had now have acquired plans, I continued at a leisurely pace, taking everything in. A few blocks away, I was serenaded into a fantastic mood by a lone street-accordionist. He bobbed and swayed back and forth, spreading mirth through his festive melodies. He was a large dark skinned fellow, dressed in white and red pinstripes with a black rimmed hat. He had black pants and shiny grey shoes with suspenders completing his authentic ensemble. I stood, transfixed and happier than I had ever felt. I was bewitched for what seemed like ages, until the sticky cool touch of the melting gelato reached my fingertips.
I came across a group of shoppers who crowded in a small alley to my right, where several shops were clustered together. A sloping Italian sign hung above the first storefront, which had ‘Apothecary’ scribbled on it. The cluttered window of ancient bottles emitted a green ambient glow and I immediately felt intrigued. The store was cramped and packed to the ceiling, with a middle isle of lopsided hanging shelves. Its product selections were split, part medical and part recreational use. I attributed the green glow to their impressive collection of Absinthe bottles. Squealing like a little girl who had just won a carnival prize, I snagged the first bottle I could, paid for it and ran out the door.
I’ve long had a fascination with liquors, beers and wines. Anything that has alcohol in it, then I must give it a try! This was the real stuff, with all of the correct ingredients - not that garbage sold under the same name, back home in the States. I think I’ll save this rare find for another night of my journey.
It wasn’t long before I found my way to the Piazza San Marco, where I found endless hints that it was closing time. Restaurant employees were busy closing down their patios and musicians were nearly finished packing up their instruments. I felt a bit sad that I’d missed out on all the hoopla, but the fact that I was one of the only souls left who was out wandering the great square instantly cleared away all sadness, and I was now filled with pure wonder. The architecture of the square and of San Marco’s Basilica was more than enough to keep me transfixed. No longer paying attention to where I was walking, I tripped over a ledge and noticed that I had turned right somewhere in my revelry. I likely followed the path along the edge of the square and was now gazing at the great Adriatic sea. There were several gondolas, tied to wood poles and bobbing in sync with the waves of the sea.
I picked myself up from kneeling where I had tripped and stepped over the stone step where I took a seat. I began studying each sight, flirting in and out of focus. I stared at the lights across from the square and over the water for a long while, where the San Giorgio Maggiore church sat looming on another island not too far away.
“The only thing missing now is a gorgeous young Italian girl to fall in love with and a vintage wine to influence bad decision making,” I chuckled to myself. I decided that I wouldn’t be opposed to staying the entire night here, laying out along the Venetian stone and falling asleep to the soothing sounds of the sea. I give in - there really is something magical about this place.
(Photo by © Brandon Elijah Scott / Eye & Pen)