My dollhouse was a three flat brownstone walk-up. A bit odd for a 7-year-old living in the suburbs, but it explains my pull to urban nests. So I couldn’t have been more thrilled when on a family trip to Venice, Italy we rented an apartment in the San Polo neighborhood near the Rialto Mercato and lived as the locals do, for a few days anyway. Aside from the bountiful fish and vegetable market, here, tucked like pockets into the stooped doorways, were bars serving short glasses of wine and small, savory plates to gondoliers and water taxi drivers. It was a good locals scene all around.
The facade of the 17th century apartment building was rippled with stains marking the canal floods like rings on a tree. Three flights of stairs led up to a modern respite in this Gothic city. The contemporary lines inside the spacious one bedroom with squat loft gave way to bell towers and titian hued roof lines that stacked like caterpillars inching towards the horizon outside.
We were there on the verge of Carnevale, when elegant, masked characters float like ghosts throughout the watery city. The costumes added yet another mythical layer to an already surreal setting, which made returning each evening to creature comforts like a stocked kitchen and sprawling couch that much cozier.
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