Giovedì 11 maggio
Although today was my last day my flight wasn’t until 9pm. Which meant I had most of the day to enjoy. Thanks to online check in running the gauntlet at small airports is a breeze giving me back valuable holiday time.
I started my day with my last breakfast at Caffetteria Goppion which became my regular morning stop off. It’s just a few minutes walk from where I have been staying and I’m starving by the time I leave home in the morning. I love standing amongst the locals downing cappuccino and croissants standing at the counter. I didn’t use English once.
Then on to the San Toma Traghetto stop. A gondola ride was beyond me this visit but the Traghetto at €2 a go is a great second choice and just as nostalgic for me as it’s where Tita’s father worked in the 1830s.
Then on to the Libreria Aqua Alta. Which as well as being a huge novelty means I get to touch an actual real life full size gondola. It also turned up a few surprises. Leafing through a box of old Venice images I came across one of the church on Murano my family had used. I mean, that’s pretty obscure. And so I bought it.
I slightly lost track of my spending. The last day means overpriced food on the run at airports and tourist hotspots. But I only have so many Euros left in my purse so working out what I’ve spent isn’t that difficult. I’ll do a full run down soon.
Leaving Venice is the only time I get sad coming home. Because Venice isn’t a holiday. It’s about connecting with heritage and feeling at one with a place. It’s the only time I feel like I’ve found the place I belong. It’s why I’ve moved so many times and never settled. Nowhere feels like somewhere I could imagine spending the rest of my life.
I was wondering how it would feel coming back after 10 years. But not only did it feel like I’d never been away, but leaving it again was just as hard. Even so, it’s really difficult to decide where my loyalties lie. On the one hand Venice is heritage and it is, for me, far more beautiful than England. But Tita spent more of his life here in the UK than he did in Italy. I think, had he wanted to return, he would have. England is where he lived and died. He is buried here. Venice always feels like home. But England is home. It’s a tough call.
Even so, sat at one of Venice’s tourist spots at the bottom of the Rialto, supping what appears to be a pint of Aperol spritz, as I wring those important last moments from my trip before I head back on the Alilaguna, I feel like my heart is breaking, as it has every time I’ve left La Serenissima.
My one small consolation is that in less than four months I will be back again and I have plenty of work to do before I return. Even so, I am ‘non felice’. So here I am, back in Manchester. I seriously considered not getting on that plane today. But you can’t do that sort of thing anymore. Being here again has only confirmed what I already knew. That my heart, like my ancestry, comes from this place and it belongs in this place.
I’ve thought a lot about the tourism issue since I’ve been here. It’s been in the newspapers, I’ve observed it and I’ve talked to a lot of tourists throughout this trip. Tourism is about making money and generating income. As a tourist, if you do not spend money in your destinations of choice what use are you? It’s not all about taking. You have to give something back. Your footfall is not enough. And I think that is the bulk of Venice’s problem. Many of the tourists do not leave their money in the city.