Midday and Venice arrives on choppy waters. Vaporettos and other water taxis crisscross the Veneta. At the docks, boats sway into tow and new passengers wait with faces turned against the spray. A humid breeze and faint salt air touch across the squall. Not far beyond, tourists mingle in groups and groups swarm into crowds—swarms of crowds vying through narrow passageways, unlit alleys, and stone arches. “Is this the way? This can’t be the walkway to San Marco. To Rialto? No. I’m not sure. We just came from there, but I’m not sure.” They follow wall signs until doubt creeps in and out come maps, on paper or phone, to recheck routes.
No matter the signs, one follows, always, the water. Water. So ubiquitous Venice seems Italian for it—maybe from the days when the city was a merchant sailor's dream, a rich trade port under no key nor king. Simply the Adriatic Queen. The only worry the coming overflow of tourism. And yet ever under, going under, water—each year, reaching up to take a few millimeters. Perhaps there is no timeless art. Or could there be a photograph in time? How a hallway light through a third floor window casts on soft currents. Wooden boats against wet stone walls. Bridges arched upward, white steps, vines of flowers, and still the water. Street lights shine across desolate paths and on the other side tourists move in darkness. In between, the water. A canal. A canal bends and bends again behind stone. Later, should it bend into a river, you may see a dozen boats of varying lengths and uses spread out over a blue glistening. Water. Wooden docks, red overhangs, blue buoys, yellow lights, sand-colored walls, pepper-gray stones—then one evening, a purple lightning shower full above the northern skyline. To the south, a great cathedral perches on the shore, and to the west, the washed-out coast yields a hazy sun over staggered roofs, the white wispy clouds flushed out in orange, in red. Lagoon waves splash onto sunken boardwalks, puddles of reflections amid unlit street lamps glowed violet from sunset.