Last week I traveled to Italy. I spent a few days in Florence, and then a few days in Venice. Every moment took me further away from my own, small life, and brought me closer, ever closer, to timelessness, myth, and the illuminated light that Henry James named the “Golden Hour.”
There is so little to be said about Venice that hasn’t been said a thousand times by more articulate tongues. I have not been there since my teenage years, and it was far more beautiful than I remember, which I didn’t think possible.
There is no better place to be lost than in Venice, which is a lovely fact, given that one is instantly turned around backward the moment one sets out to explore the city. Wandering allows time for taking in every detail; it lets the mind, the senses, to bath in the wonder, the impossible glory of the lagoons and twisting pathways.
On my trip I began reading the sonnets of Petrarch, a wonderful history of Venice by the great historian Garry Wills, as well as the incredibly witty and simultaneously haunting poetry of Hesiod, who is in some ways the “first poet” of the Western Canon.
Although he wrote these words while Venice was still an unknown lagoon on the Adriatic, they reflect beautifully the experience of being witness to this astonishing place: