The pigeons have gone home. The shops are shuttered. The tourists (most of them) are back in their hotel rooms. Venice at night takes on a whole other personality. It becomes a sensuous, mysterious place. St Marks Square becomes the world’s largest ballroom with three mini orchestras striking up the music. They take turns in the glow from the cafes to continue where the other takes a break. It is beautiful. I should feel moved by the romance. I could only feel lonely. St Marks at night is not the same without my paunchy partner in crime. We were here 18 years ago on our five-week trip through Europe – married, no kids, just after graduation, no job, no paunch and madly in love with Italy. We found St Marks at night magical. Artists had set up stalls on the square and we bought an etching from a beautiful Argentinian artist.
Fast forward to 2012. The artists are still here, the orchestras still play. But is it my imagination or is the place brighter than it used to be, more crowded than before? Things feel different.
Very likely it is because I am alone – my mum and sister were tired after a long day of walking. And I am one of the few there without a group, without a partner’s arm. Or maybe because it’s just my third time here already and I’m jaded.
Venice at night is pretty but for me, it’s lost its shine.
One thing though, away from St Marks and the main thoroughfares, the alleys and lanes are dark and empty. I took a short cut and was unnerved by the sound of my own footsteps. It is safe though and I doubt people get mugged here, but I made sure I walked briskly and as loudly as I could.