The bridge rose up, lifting me above the crowds that swarmed out of the train station and across from the bus terminal. That was when it hit me. Never before had I set eyes on a river that was so full of life.
Across emerald water, boats jostled for space, bumping past each other as they delivered groceries, goods and tourists to the quayside. Narrow pavements lined the sides where cafes spilled out to the water’s edge and the sound of chatter and tinkering cups echoed off rows of crumbling facades.
I crossed the remainder of the bridge and was instantly plunged into a labyrinth, formed by blocks of flats stacked impossibly close to one another. It was from here that the rest of my encounters with Venice panned out.
Amongst meetings with myriad rivers and fairytale squares, was a chance visit to Il Canovaccio and the beginning of a love affair with the city’s most famous export; the mask. My boat trip to the islands also stands out, where centuries of glass-making tradition survive and a Lego-like town decorated in rainbow colours seemed to belong to nowhere, except its own microcosm.
Not bad for three days, but the twinkling studs and knowing smile of the mask that now hangs on my wall tells me I only scratched the surface.