Venice: La Serenissima, the Queen of the Adriatic, the Bride of the Sea, one of the most romantic cities in the world. I prefer to call her by her Italian, and real name: Venezia. It’s a musical name and alludes to mystery and excitement. It suits her well.
This was our fifth visit to the magical floating city. But by no means does it mean there is nothing else for us to see. Every time we come, we make new discoveries. It’s impossible to ever be bored.
From the window of the train we saw that we were finally on the two-mile causeway that crosses the lagoon, connecting Venezia to the mainland. Experienced travelers know not to be confused by the stop at Venezia Mestre — you must remain on the train until the final station: Santa Lucia.
As we hopped from the train and rolled our bags through the huge station to the outside, I was giddy with anticipation. I knew what glorious sight awaited us.
And there it was, not any less exciting than the first time we saw it: The Grand Canal. Lined with tall, elaborately decorated buildings, Venezia’s aqueous highway cuts a serpentine swath through the island’s middle. To emerge from the banality of the station and look up to see this fairyland spread before you will stop you in your tracks. Every time.
We allowed ourselves a long gaze before wending our way through the throngs to get to our vaporetto ticket window.
Vaporetti, the city’s water buses, churned water noisily as they arrived and departed, clumps of tourists milled about, some in confused and dazed states, some striding confidently to familiar destinations. The sky was brilliant blue and completely cloudless.
Disembarking at San Zaccaria, we knew exactly how to arrive at our familiar and beloved hotel: Albergo Doni. Down the waterfront promenade (the Riva degli Schiavoni), across one bridge, a left at barely discernible (unless you know it) Calle Vin, a dog-leg turn, and there you are walking along the narrow canal that drifts past the hotel.
Every time I arrive in Venice, I marvel at how comfortable and familiar it feels to me. Gino feels it too. Even the first time ever to this city we felt it. I always feel compelled to shout, “Honey, I’m ho-o-o-ome!” And now Hotel Doni feels like this, too. Maybe it’s because we always stay in the same room, maybe it’s because of the welcome smiles of Nicolo’ and his staff. Whatever the reason, we are glad to be here.