I have been living in Venice for one year (technically, right now I’m in Graz on a mobility semester but you get it). It has been a breathtaking experience and one that has changed my life forever. I have fallen in love with Venice as I had never fallen for any city before; it is the place that I call home. Here are 5 ways (comical and serious) in which the city has changed me:
Boats and walking over cars
I was raised in Mexico City and I always liked cars. Since I was a girl I dreamt of the moment I could get a driver’s license and a car of my own. When I finally purchased Vlad (a beautiful Seat Ibiza Sport 2007 in the color “emocion red”) I was the happiest girl ever. I cried so much when I had to sell my car to part a percentage of my stay in Venice (I still miss you, my sweet Vlad). But after living in Venice, cars no longer hold any appeal to me. Sure, they are extremely convenient, and sure, if I ever get the money to have Vlad II I will not hesitate because the train can only get you so far in life, but other than that, I don’t like cities with lots of cars anymore. There is so much noise, pollution, and craziness involved. I love walking in Venice because I don’t have to focus on crossing the street, waiting for the light to turn, or anything at all. Nothing stops you from your journey. Once you have lived in a city where the only means of transportation are boats or your feet, you really learn to love it. Of course, Venice also goes mainland and I use the bus to get to places there, but there’s something incredibly refreshing about arriving at the lagoon and having cars disappear from your life. I never thought that that would be possible but it is true.
From city girl to villager
This is probably an exaggeration but let me explain. As I said, I was raised in Mexico City, one of the largest cities in the world, and one of the most populated. When I arrived in Venice, I felt that everything was so… small. Every “city” that I visited felt like a town to me, even Verona (truth to be told I haven’t been to Milan or other big cities in Italy but still). I understand that the definition of a city varies with the standard of the country or spatial/temporal conditions and that it has more to do with a place being the center of religion, commerce, and economy, but that doesn’t take away the fact that lagoon Venice is kind of a town for a city girl like me. Likewise, I had to get used to the fact that Venice at night is dark. At first, I thought I was going to be robbed or something. Then I realized that nothing ever happens there (you’re not even at risk of falling into the canal). Once you get the hang of the illumination and the city layout, it’s pretty easy to move around confidently.
Thus, after one year of living in Venice, my perspective changed. The first thing that I thought when I arrived in Graz was “so.many.lights”. My second thought? “omg this city is so big, I’m going to get lost, I’m scared, please send me back”. I have been here for two weeks and I am still longing for my dark, quiet island with no cars. I am well aware that Venice is no village but I surely feel like one now haha.
Pasta and Parmigiano every day
I always liked pasta bolognese. I remember that every time my mom made it, I would eat a bit too much because I liked it so much. However, one thing is liking it and another is eating-pasta-every-day-cuz-it’s-so-good. Living in Venice has certainly upped my pasta resistance. And don’t even mention the Parmigiano because I go through a block every week *shhh*
To Venice, with love
Do you know what Venetians like to talk about the most? Venice. Do you know what I like to talk about the most? Venice. Venetians have a unique, passionate, and especially selfless love for their beautiful city. If you ever visit the city, ask Venetians about their experience of the city and watch the magic unfold before you. Venetians will smile and have a special glint in their eyes and they will explain in detail what makes the city so incredible. They simply live for Venice. Old people, in particular, are extremely insightful and sweet; they only need a tiny bit of encouragement to share their stories and you will walk away wiser.
While I cannot claim to be Venetian (although I discovered that my great-grandparents actually were!), I also love talking about everything that I have discovered in Venice (as you can attest here).
All my roads lead to Venice
I love traveling. I love exploring new places and discovering its secrets. I especially love learning about history, architecture, and art. I also like exploring how each place does things in their own way and to find out the rhythm of the city. That hasn’t changed. But Venice has become everything to me. I feel that, whereas before, I traveled perhaps looking for a place where I could find myself, I now travel outside of that place and every time I come to Venice I return home. And whenever I talk about something, I always go back to Venice. Not in a close-minded way or for the sake of qualitative comparison but just because my heart automatically drifts back to the beautiful lagoon and its waving mysteries.
As Shirley Jackson said “Journeys end in lovers meeting” for me, the quest for fulfillment ended the moment I stepped outside the plane and contemplated Venice.