Beachcombing Venice, Italy


We wandered Venice, Italy threading our way through the narrow canyon-like alleyways of urban stonework. We knew not where we were but on the island.

A visitor doesn’t have to concern herself with getting lost on a small island as she would in a major continental city, and the insular containment offers a sense of security and freedom to roam without worry.

And so we did wander without any idea where we were headed or where we’d end up, the uncertainty and unfamiliarity an invigorating elixir of emotion.

To the outskirts of town, the edge of the island, past boarded up beachside buildings, the garden nooks overrun in rank windblown seed sprouts, fences netted over in spindly vines.

See the beach on low tide. The darkened oily-looking and algae-covered cobblestones and the easy ripple of seawater lapping the Venetian shoreline.

Onto the rubbly beach we stepped, picking our way over the exposed stony seafloor, human egrets stepping measuredly across the rounded rocks, heads angled downward, eyes scanning nooks and crannies for quarry, ready to strike out with a hand and snatch up what treasure might be found, the objet trou.

Therein the gravel filter of the seashore held a collection of hundreds of years worth of urban debris. A circular-shaped blob of clear glass stamped with a company or makers’ name and a date of 1812. It appeared to have once been attached to a handblown bottle, perhaps old fine wine, I mused.

A small water-worn vessel covered in a fine coating of slime. I bent, grabbed and held aloft the fine piece of vintage ceramic. Wiping the mossy growth away I could see the organically inspired curvilinear letters composing the phrase, “Drink Love.” Judging by the shape of the handicraft and the font I supposed the piece to be about one hundred years old, dating back to the era of Art Nouveau.

Those were the souvenirs for the trip, with sentimental value and backstory, thus better than anything bought in one of the many storefront tourist traps in town, as beautiful and grand as much of the work may be, such as Murano glass.

And there the objects rest. The hodgepodge. Scattered across the tops of shelves, piled in an old hand-hewn sandstone bowl and jumbled in a little wire and glass case. Each  piece tells a story. Pages in the novel of a life. Lifted from a dusty garage shelf each item starts the play of a memory of some moment had somewhere some years ago.

Were it not for the found object there may well be no recall of that moment of life. Were I to throw it out the memory would fade and disappear. Gone as if it never happened. I hold on to the object to hold on to my life.

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2 Responses to Beachcombing Venice, Italy

  1. Gerry Hall says:

    Nice story and memory, well told. I knew there was a reason I have so much stuff in my drawers and shelves.

  2. Tom Kirschner says:

    Beautifully and thoughtfully written…thanks!

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