Although I wrote this article a while ago, it was just picked up by Escape from America magazine. Click the link for the full read.
Many labels come to mind when I think of Venice: magical, mysterious, one-of-a-kind, legendary – it’s not an easy place to define.
On my first visit there I wondered: could I ever live in a city where I wouldn’t be able to ride a bike? On the other hand, I loved that it is car-free: no fumes, no traffic, no road rage. Instead, all the essential city services were carried out by boats: ambulances, garbage men, firefighters, police men – all sailors!
One late-September day few years ago I found myself knocking on heavy gates of Palazzo Zorzi, hoping to call the palace my new office. And a few days later, I also began calling Venice my home.
Palazzo Zorzi houses UNESCO’s Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe and I joined the environmental science team to contribute to, among other things, the Venice lagoon conservation and tourism management projects.
Soon after I moved there, my colleague Giorgio – one of those mysterious prototypes that wears a cape and a fedora and looks like a phantom stealthily cutting corners of narrow street corridors in thick misty winter fogs – taught me how to circumnavigate the maze of timeworn streets like a pro. Then, a very important sense of belonging to the community, he taught me how to give directions: ‘just keep going straight (‘sempre dritto’) and inquire again at the next bridge!’ The phrase ‘sempre dritto’ is the most common and commonly-acceptable instruction to navigate Venice.