The Cipriani, Venice, Italy

Staying at the Cipriani is like walking on soft cotton.  Everything works perfectly:  with finesse and effortlessness, as if someone was conducting it with a magical baton. 

The next day was my scheduled departure.  I calmly got all my things ready and went out onto the verandah a little after the sun had set.  I waited for something to happen all night long, something to show me what I needed to do to decide.  Nothing came, but I stayed calm.  I looked out at the horizon, covered by an imperceptible fog, and the Lido appeared as nothing more than a thin, grey line, while the sun started to rise as a hazy, golden disc.  I stared hard into the rising sun in hope that my answer would come from there.

And then, in the centre of the sun, I discerned a small, black spot that kept getting bigger and bigger, eventually taking on the shape of a bird.  As it approached me, it freed itself from the sun and took on its own, white colour, and I realized it was my seagull.  I kept on watching it and said to myself:  “If it lands on the striped post of the Cipriani that will be the sign I’ve been waiting for.”

I honestly don’t know if our luck depends on birds.  The ancients thought it did.  At that instant, I let that be my primary thought and I decided to go for broke.

If the seagull passed before me and just flew off, I would leave Venice.

If it landed on the post, I would turn the next page of my life here.

The seagull was flying directly for me; it passed over me and… landed on the post!  Everything just fell into place so easily.  Then it turned its head in my direction, as if to assure me that all this had not been accidental, and I gave it a wink.  I went back inside and immediately called the reception desk.

“What a beautiful day!” I told the receptionist.

Bellissimo giorno, signora,” she replied.

“I think I won’t be leaving today.  I still have a couple of things to take care of.”

“As you wish,” came her expected reply.

I smiled and set the receiver back in its place, and made one last thought.

For some, Venice is love at first sight.  For others, it is a slow and meaningful process.  For me, it was as the poet John Addington Symonds, had put it:

“When you are in Venice, it is as if you live in a dream.  And when you dream it, it is as if you are awake”.

The end from the book MY VENICE

Breakfast at the Cipriani, Venice

Breakfast at the Cipriani, Venice

Barbara Athanassiadis