Paying for Your Mind: The Magic of Venezia (Location: Venice, Italy, Europe)

Venice.  Silence all but the jabbering tourists, grumbling water taxis and yapping dogs.  The days of Venice are mystical, a realm from an ancient water world.  Nights upon the isles are a mesmerizing mystery with foggy passages and cold stonewalls.  The gypsy coin peddlers back in Florence and Rome feel like a gossamer memory from youth.

Amidst the city, some four hundred gondolas make their rounds, kicking off enclosing walls for guidance as they pocket a romantic’s savings.  In their adept grace and good humor, the stillness of the narrow waterways off the main aquatic freeways simply adds to the hypnotic state found upon the lands of the Venetian lagoon.  Albeit, even the temporal condition of a traveler’s enthrallment comes with a price.  The fee for a few days upon The Queen of the Adriatic is priceless.


On the first evening’s arrival, a numinous fog hung onto the waters off the canal.  Wandering through the alleys, the walls and cobbles wet with dew, people shouted and echoed, their faces obscured by the condensation off their breath.  Things felt tight, empty, until the principal square of Venice opened into an expanse.  Piazza San Marco, where the 16th and 17th century walls faded into a dream as tours of pigeons and people gathered for feed and sociability.

Under the mystique of the sky, consumed by the omnipresence of these Venetian creatures, lights along the outside of the San Marco perimeters snapped into luminescence by the touch of a reclusive finger.  The crowds, under the trance of the sudden whim of magic, wailed in exasperation, and together they hummed, creating a synchronized tune amidst San Marco’s grandiosity.

Like the Doge’s command, the crowd’s choir quickly faded as Beethoven’s quintet raged with passion.  Outside a café, the classy four-piece band battled with another opposite the square.  From Mozart to Luciano Pavarotti into the classic modernity of The Sound of Music, the front ensembles in stiff tuxes fought each other for the thickest audience.  By feet, the music was free, yet under the carefree ambiance at a table in the piazza, nothing went without a charge.


With the appellation applied to the Adriatic city, every nook and cranny is entitled to the Queen’s throne.

At Caffé Florian, a small table draws up two tweed seats.  Settling into San Marco’s atmosphere, people watching and inhaling the thick sea air passes time as service flies away with a pigeon.  Eventually, a well-tucked and tight-fitted waiter consisting of frigidity and an empty tray appears without a gaze.  Eight euros – a glass of white wine.  Eight euros – a set of tea infused with lavender.  An hour ticks.  Nothing seems to matter but a refill.

Within Venice, twilight morphs into a yellow evening as street lamps alight like single shard from a dying sun.  The pigeons disappear, as do the clusters of families with their young throwing feed and karate-kicks.  Life appears to slow down as echoes through the street become more commonplace and mist from the November fogs settle atop shoulders.  Things feel vacant and the intimacy of a Venetian restaurant lurks between its neoclassical alleyways.

Café tabs paid, the cover charge for ambiance is no less surprising.  It’s complete with all of Venice; from the city’s Piazza San Marco with its gaudy basilica, its bell towers and their clapping ring upon each hour, to the historical empire, mystique seclusion, hordes of civilization, to the famed crafts of blown glass on the isle of Murano and the Venetian school of Renaissance paintings by the Bellinis and Vivarinis.  It’s the foggy ambiance of surrealism, whether sunny, rainy or dreary under a gray layer of high clouds.  In essence, it is Venezia and it’s worth it, including the supplemental music charge.

Looking around, the tables are full and will be for the remainder of the evening.  Therein, each person at each table pays a bill and coin of five and fifty euros just to sit and indulge in the magic of Venice.


With time’s strike upon the hour, the two bell towers ring and heads turn skyward.  The same hum radiates from the many mouths at that moment, looking up and then turning back down to smile and find the lover, the family, the friend or stranger with eyes of equal amusement.  Venice is a silent bustling paradise marooned from the cultures abroad where the Queen timelessly sings.


  1. Lovely pictures, I come from Venice and it is always breathtaking!

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