Travel

Time travel

Walking through the lanes, bridges and along the canals of the city is like time travel.

Walking through the lanes, bridges and along the canals of the city is like time travel.  

Venice with all its beauty is dreamlike. From there, Sadhna Shanker reveals its languor, its endless lanes, its colour and vibrancy of an old culture

Some people go there for their honeymoon; others like us go there because there is a fable like mystique attached to the city built along canals. And Venice doesn’t disappoint. Walking through the lanes, bridges and along the canals of the city is like time travel. One is transported to some bygone era. Situated in North-eastern Italy, Venice is a city built on 118 islands. Time travel begins when one disembarks from the train and looks for the ‘vaporetti no 5.1’ indicated by the owner of the B&B we were headed to. It took a descent down the stairs of the station to realise that it meant a public transport boat. Crowded by locals and tourists like us lugging bags, the boat takes a long route towards our stop. On the way, the waterfront on both sides is ornamented by buildings of immense beauty and old age charm.

We got off the boat, and the handsome conductor did not charge us for the journey. We followed the precise instructions Roberto had sent in the email. In the quaint area of Castello below a house with flowers in its small yellow balcony we waited for Roberto. An old man of 70-plus opened the door, took my hand to his lips in the old manner and then led us through a narrow lane of houses to our abode for the next two days. “All the main areas are walking distance from here,” he told us. He was right. Everything in Venice could be walked to, unless you prefer to take a boat. To walk you need a map, and since it is a walker’s city a map has to be necessarily bought. It is not available for free even in the tourist information centre!

There are no cars, no cycles, no motorcycles, no mode of transport except the boats that glide by. The ‘vias’ or ‘calles’ of Venice are like a labyrinth, however once we mastered the map our time travel truly began. The Piazza San Marco is the main square of the city. Everything is measured by its distance from that bustling area. It is where the imposing and beautiful Basilica of St Mark stands, surrounded by a host of important buildings. On the bright sunny winter morning that we were there, there were seagulls in plenty in the sky and people thronging the ground. Cafes had set out chairs on the waterfront to take advantage of the sun; while at the square people were busy trying to capture the ambience on their various appliances. The square leads to various parts of the city.

Any direction one walked the lanes were lined by shops that sold some of the best brands of the world. At small corners one would walk into a small church or chapel. Old ornate community taps had water running continuously, while in the canals that one crossed black gleaming ‘gondolas’ streamed past. In some the smartly attired gondoliers were serenading young couples, while in others families were simply gazing in wonder at the different world around.

One of the most fascinating wares on display in the lanes of Venice are masks. The variety, details, and colours of the masks on display was simply mesmerising. They are used in the annual Venice Carnival. The first documented sources mention the use of masks in Venice in the 13th Century, and there is still debate around why the use of masks began in the first place! Competing for attention in terms of colour and grace were the products made of Murano glass. If you want you can take a day trip by boat to the Murano islands and visit the glass factories. Walking Venice means that when you remember that you have to actually see places you go towards the Rialto bridge or the Pointe di Rialto. The oldest bridge on the grand canal, it is a place with a view and in itself it is a wonderful view. The Gallerie dell’Accademia is a museum gallery of pre-19th-century art in Venice. A small walk from it through various beautiful art galleries leads to the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. From the Basilica laid out across the Grand Canal is the grandeur of the city. An forgettable view!

Venice is like a dream, what one takes away from there is its languor, its endless lanes, the colour and vibrancy of an old culture and the ever present water. Flowing endlessly connecting the city to itself and the world. For a honeymoon or otherwise; it is a great place to meet oneself in a time capsule of beauty and antique charm.

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 4:42:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/travel/time-travel/article5670653.ece

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