Last night, after dinner was cleaned up, photos were processed, and we were closed up in the tent preparing to sleep, an enormous storm broke loose. Perhaps to make up for all the missed storming in the day, the rain fell heavier and faster than we’ve ever witnessed on this trip and lightning lit the whole tent. The subsequent thunder cracked so loudly that it rumbled right through my chest. I’ve never been in a tent for a storm of that magnitude and it was a bit unnerving, although Ben was loving every minute believing that the louder and more violent the thunder, the better. In the background, a siren went off and we wondered if in Venice the streets had flooded, as they often do in the rainy season.
Just as suddenly as it had come on though, the storm passed and with the absence of rain drumming on the tent, I dozed off almost immediately. Morning brought us a few hours of quiet route planning, tent tidying, and grocery stopping with intermittent rain still coming down. We holed up in the tent to finish publishing blog posts and eventually took a really nice long nap. By then the storm had cleared so we made our early dinner so that we could spend the night in the city.
We were eager to see the city in some different light and hoped that evening would provide us with a bit of a different perspective than we’d seen yesterday. Further, Ben had some unfinished business with Venice – he was determined to be serenaded by an accordion. I had no idea how on earth this was going to work out or where the idea even came from, but it was at least worth a shot.
We arrived into Venice around 6:00 PM and took a well off the beaten path wander through town. We saw the locals out doing their shopping, chasing their children, and coming home from work, stopping to greet each other as they went, and even running on their treadmills. Soon, though, we turned down into the more tourist heavy streets in search of an accordian. We had imagined that Venice was one of those cities that wakes up at night, but instead, we found still canals and silent corridors which must have been bustling with tourists only hours before. We wandered aimlessly for a couple of hours, taking pictures and enjoying having the city largely to ourselves.
The bad news about the way things had wrapped up for the night was that there were less and less shops open, fewer gondolas ferrying people around, and an extremely diminished chance of seeing anyone with an accordion. At one point we heard some accordion music playing a few canals away but as we walked toward it, it disappeared. Ben was undaunted though, and even as the sun set and the street lights came on, giving light to the eerily dark and silent streets, he was certain that there was an accordion somewhere to be found.
The still canals were even more impressive by street light and our pace slowed even more to capture Venice at what we think is its best. The low light, the cool weather, and the cafes full of people eating a late dinner outside made for a perfect evening walk.
It was getting late and we were headed roughly toward the bus terminal for our return trip out of the city. As we reached the last bridge over the Grand Canal, a small group of middle-aged Italian men were just standing around, three holding accordions and one with a guitar. I seriously couldn’t believe it. It was nearly 10 PM, totally dark, and the streets were all but empty, and here we managed to track down Ben’s only goal for Venice? Sometimes the magic of this trip blows me away. We hung around for a few minutes, and sure enough, they gathered around in a circle and started playing. I was reluctant to disturb them with my camera, but Ben put a bit of money in their cup and they happily posed for our photos while putting on a fantastic musical spectacle for us. We stood around for long while, laughing, taking pictures, and clapping until we had only minutes to catch our bus. We couldn’t have had a more perfect ending to a perfect evening.