Why Venice Is So Romantic Or How It Can Make You Feel Lonely

I made the mistake of traveling to Venice by myself.

I made the mistake of traveling to Venice by myself. Venice isn’t the type of place you go to without a romantic partner or without plans for decadent indulgence and relaxation with someone special. The city emits a romantic energy that couples cannot help but act upon. Twosomes stumble out of the handicapped restroom in the Peggy Guggenheim Museum and their hands wander under shirts while standing at the corner of Coop. Could it be that there is something in its water? But those are extreme tales of lust; they are more outliers than anything.

The city generally promotes a more innocent, demure type of love. The old-fashioned methods of transportation help make it so romantic: visitors are taken back in history as they can opt to use either feet or gondola. On foot, you might pass by calle del bezzo, which translates into something along the lines of “alley for embracing/kissing.” I know I certainly wished I had someone with whom to sneak away for a private moment with – just think what a cute photo that would’ve made! As for gondolas, these slim, long boats allow for quick and seemingly effortless maneuvers into narrow canals. One can easily imagine the stealth this vehicle provided 17th-century nobleman Andrea Memmo in order to communicate with his illicit lover as recounted in Andrea di Robilant’s A Venetian Affair. As touristy as they are, you really must take a tour in a gondola ride, as it is a chance for you to enjoy Venice as its historical inhabitants have. Its slow, leisurely pace allows you to take in the marvelous sights while you lay back and rest, allowing the gondolier to do all the work and take you on this journey. You might pass under the Bridge of Sighs, which in itself is not so romantic, as the reason for its name is that prisoners heading to their execution used the bridge, but knowing that now, it’s bound to make you grateful for being alive. You’ll see all the grand palazzos on the Grand Canal, with all their lavish, elaborate facades that sometimes incorporated family crests. You’ll see the bustling Accademia Bridge, an authentic wooden bridge that has been largely untouched (unlike other wooden bridges that have been reinforced with steel – a bit of a blemish, in my opinion, as they detract from the bridge’s historical beauty.) With all its lovelocks – locks that couples will ceremonially attach to the bridge before throwing the key to the waters below. You might even encounter a few couples in the process of taking their wedding pictures (I’ve encountered five in one month,) or even run into a few weddings.

The sight of couples here can definitely make you feel lonely if you’re alone – you wish you had someone to share such gorgeous sights and experiences with, someone to dine with in the outdoor seating area that Italians consider to be a true luxury, as time is too valuable to just sit down and people-watch while enjoying the view. And couples can only aspire to have a history as long as Venice’s relationship with the water: Each year, the city conducts a symbolic marriage ceremony between Venice and the sea, a tradition that began in the year 997 and still takes place to this day. One could only hope for a relationship as dedicated as this.

Becky Chao

A graduate from Duke University, Becky lived in Venice for several months. She traveled throughout Italy, Barcelona and other countries in Europe.

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