Sounds of the City

Back yesterday after two weeks on vacation, and I have to admit that it's a bit of a struggle to resume the usual schedule. The alarm clock seemed especially insistent this morning.
Part of the problem is temporal displacement. To celebrate our twenty-fifth anniversary, my wife and I traveled to Venice. Robert Benchley once sent a telegram from the city that married the sea to a friend: "Streets full of water. Stop. Please advise." And indeed, the day after we arrived, a deluge combined with the high tide of a full moon swamped many of the streets that are supposed to remain dry. In the event of aqua alta, squadrons of men place duck boards on aluminum braces on pre-arranged routes, but most of the locals simply don pairs of high gum boots and slosh their way through.
The city is as beautiful as advertised, the museums wonderful, the food mostly terrific — because Venice is so saturated with tourists, it IS possible to get a bad meal — but the thing that most surprised me, was the sound of the place. Because there are no cars, the steady thrum of traffic that obscures the audio track of every other city I've visited simply isn't there. With the window open in our third floor hotel room, we eavesdropped on animated conversations that were mostly, but not exclusively in Italian, and every time a woman in high heels came down our little Calle, we knew it. The tenors of the gondoliers wafted in, and the bells of the city argued over the time.
The construction site across the street from my apartment building is just as musical when the dump trucks beep their back up song at six this morning. Sure it is.

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