It was my first real and last experience in Venice – La Serenissima, the City on Water – the Bride of the Sea. Three days of wandering and traversing through the city’s twisted, narrow arterial streets culminated in this moment where it became second nature to notice the aromas of Italian pasta, olive oil and wine infused with the incoming sea breeze from the Grand Canal. I was one of many – a body among bodies – entrenched in the midst of a collective history of war and disease, elevated by artistic triumph and scientific innovation.
Up until now, I had been migrating alone from one place to the next. I noticed the gypsies and beggars pierce through the glowing Venetian light. The magical aura in the ringing sound of church bells, crooked clock towers, siestas, local markets, textiles, and colored-dyes was grounded by the ghost-fleets of the city’s past – waves of immigrants and travelers floating between East and West, leaving an imprint on the crust of Venice’s sinking walls.
I first saw this musician in costume outside Santa Maria della Salute, Our Lady of Health. Hours later, we met again on the Ponte dell’Academia. This time, I stayed. I listened. As I was pulled out from the static haze of an otherworldly past, I slowed down into the present. I watched him play Baroque minuets on his lute while his gaze mirrored mine, and we both looked and stood still on this link, this crossing, into the late evening – when the street lamps grew dim, and the crowds began to fade, and recognition took place.