We reached around noon by train. A perfect August day, my husband and I crowed, dragging suitcases outside the station. We were in fabled Venice!
What strikes you once you exit the station, is the intense captivating light. It’s like an artist’s consciousness entering your soul. Even the most prosaic of humans can go weak at the knees. The blue expanse of lagoons, the water taxis, and that mesmerizing light!
We had booked a small B&B, the La Rosa dei Venti, and I pronounced it carefully. The man in the water taxi seemed a bit surprised when we asked to get off at Riva San Biasio. Indeed it seemed like he had never heard of the place. A faint bell tolled in my head.
Still, after an hour of travelling, and rapid Italian being passed back and forth, we swung off the taxi on the broad pier. It was past two, and we were famished. We located the façade of the old apartment with glee. The B&B was on the third floor, and our key sat snugly in an envelope in an ancient letter-box. How charming, we thought! Our plan was to dump the luggage and get something to eat. Preferably a dish of pasta glistening with olive oil and garnished with tomatoes, and a bottle of cold prosecco.
Opening the door to the B&B proved a slight challenge, but we managed it, stepping into a lovely room. The foyer was furnished with armchairs, a desk, a phone, and an empty seat. We looked around for the absent receptionist.
Exclaiming that the view from the small balcony overlooking the Adriatic sea was enchanting, we gathered our cases, passing into a dark passage with rooms on either side. There was a thick silence along that carpeted expanse. Our room was lovely, and clean. The only window looked out into the back of another building, so there was not much to see.
“Let’s eat!” we decided and trooped out again.
The gleaming foyer sporting replicas of ancient Venetian ships and compasses, fresh flowers and magazines, was still devoid of a receptionist. Sunlight glittered in the room.
After a walk around San Marco square, and that dish of pasta, we began to feel the need for a nap. The sun was strong and we hurried along the pier. Climbing those three flights of stairs, I said, “Maybe there’s an elevator somewhere? Though, this building is old. Let’s ask the receptionist.”
Inside the gleaming foyer, there was still no one. We stood stock still, breathing in the quiet.
“Look!” said my husband, pointing to the polished wooden side table.
There was a tray with two cups and a pot of tea.
My voice had a decided quaver to it.
No one answered. Everything with still.
With sinking hearts and hurrying feet, we went into our room. But hope rises eternal, and after a nap, we were ready to experience the charms of nighttime Venice. We laughed off our suspicions and bravely walked into the foyer.
Again that silence amid the well-decorated B&B. What about the other guests? Surely there were other guests? How come we hadn’t heard or seen anyone – I moaned constantly.
When we returned at night, nothing had changed. The lights had been lit, and presented us with a charming picture of elegance and comfort. We tip-toed into our room. Dropping off to sleep, my husband mumbled, “Listen, it’s a B&B. They’re supposed to give us breakfast. Someone will be in.”
My dreams were not comfortable that night. In my sleep, I saw us heading into the foyer and partaking of breakfast, but with no sign of any living person.
And in the morning, there was indeed breakfast in the foyer. Steam rose from the coffee pot. The toasts and eggs were arranged neatly. Pats of butter and jam lay invitingly in their dishes.
The young girl presiding over the receptionist’s desk smiled a Mona Lisa smile.