In Venice, a Young Boatman Steers a Course of His Own
By Susan Meissner
The Venice of old
By Susan Meissner
April 23, 2012
A view from the Piazza San Marco in Venice, looking towards the Grand Canal
Gazing across the Grand Canal, my mind was instantly transported back to the first time I saw it from the outside. It was a hot, humid day late in June, and I was with my parents and younger sister on a river tour of Venice. I had visited Venice a few times in my childhood, mostly alone, and for the first time I had met someone I was going to marry when I was 20 years old. My mother, who was by then a widow, had taken me on that tour so that I could marry my future husband, Giancarlo, who just happened to be in a relationship with our tour guide, Anna. It had been a wonderful day but the heat and humidity made our time at the boat landing and sightseeing inside the lagoon feel almost unbearably cold and uncomfortable. I had hoped the day would end when I left the boat landing so I wouldn’t have to wait another two hours for a ride on the water taxi. Instead, we went inside the Grand Canal and my sister and I were the only ones in the water.
Once again, I was thinking fondly of my future husband when I saw him enter the water at the far end of the Grand Canal. I was so mesmerized by him that I didn’t realize my sister, who had come with me, had begun to paddle towards him. And then I saw him. It was Giancarlo. He had been swimming for an hour as my sister brought him the last of his lunch. A moment later my younger sister joined us, and they were all standing on the water’s edge. There was no way I could have been more thrilled. Suddenly, Giancarlo smiled and shouted, “Bye, bye, baby!” and disappeared under the water