these beautiful labyrinthes beckoning, the erasure of the hovering fog obliterates the sky, and I feel like a revenant floating along the canals, over bridges and against the crumbling brick edifices and shuttered windows. We become purposeful in our mapless abandon, wandering the alleys and arches until, after more than a single circle, we arrive on the hallowed st marks square. The basilica is monumental, a marble pastiche of venices forgotten glory, littered with pigeons that will acrobatically land on your shoulders should you proffer a crust. The florian coffee house, more than 350 years old, is a baroque masterpiece out of la traviata, which regrettably charges 8 euros for a latte, so I hearken to the shabbier shop nearby for a standing 2 euro capucchino. And here loiters the one drawback to this gilded city; the prices. Everthing is expensive, museum entries, coffee and pasta, and much as the masks and murano glass. There was a time in the city's history that saw her cater to the poetic whims of the European aristocracy, beginning their grand tours of Italy, and it often seems the place has yet to escape from that decayed romance, to realistically grip the reality of dreadlocked American and canadian backpackers. Granted I'm somewhere betwixt, but I still don't want to part with a tenner for a coffee the size of my cupped hand. Otherwise this city can be summed thus; it is a place more like an idyllic film set than an actuality but it is in fact, actualized. Tourists, students, gondoliers, fishermen and roving tat sellers rub against the frayed skirts of methuselan women leaning heavily on their canes, a patiose of every language echoes off the narrow alleys, and ocassionally,opera music seeps from brick sodden, baritone corners, and I forget my position in time, shuffling within an anachronism. And no cars! Just shouts and heavy footfalls, the rare propellored boat like a tempest along the quiescent canal. And yes, I stuffed my face full of dripping pizza yet again, for the 6th straight day.24th- the day spent wandering more canals, getting lost and found again, spying a cathedral in the mist lolling dangerously to the side. The exact same women we saw in Rome, have followed us here with their tin cups, crying alms in their scarves. Are you forced into penury here if you are female, abstractly Saracen and a wearer of head scarves? We eat a stunning meal of noble Venetian risotto doused liberally in seafood, and wash it into our canals with cool white wine. The room is cold when we return, and we draw a great curtain around the bed as whispers from the alley populate the air with ghosts.
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