Explore Venice in the Night ✓

October 23, 2015

I was living in Italy, in the ancient hillside town of Bergamo as an au-pair/English teacher. I’d only been there a few weeks and didn’t know a lot of people. It was late in the evening when my friend Francesco called me on my little telefono and told me to come outside of my house, and have my shoes, jacket, purse, and an extra layer with me in case it got molto freddo. I didn’t know what we were doing, but I agreed and walked out to his orange Smartcar. When I opened the door, there in the front seat was a blindfold and a pizza Americano, which, if you didn’t know, is a pizza with fries on it. It’s the shit.

“Prendere le bandina” Put on the blindfold, Francesco advised. I looked at him a little hesitant. I mean, is it wise to get in the car with an Italian friend you just met a couple of weeks ago and voluntarily put blindfold yourself? Was the pizza Americano a big trap? I decided to take my chances.

Si, I agreed. Okay. Va bene. And I put it on and asked Francesco where we are going.

“No questions, American.” He told me, as I thought about how I was in the land of the mafia and began to wonder who Francesco’s family was.

I took a deep breath. Okay, relax, Lauren. I told myself. Just sit here and eat all of the fries off of the pizza. He probably isn’t going to murder you.

“Can I please peak, Francesco?”

“No. If Lauren, uhhh, look. Si, if Lauren, uhhh, peak..” He stumbled over his English searching for words to use, “Uhhh, I keel Lauren.” Oh, kill Lauren! Great! But he said this in Tarzan-like English, so I was trying to give Francesco the benefit of the doubt.

“I promise I won’t peak.” I said.

We drove for what only felt like an hour and a half. Though it was enough time to listen to the High School musical soundtrack at least three or four times over. I felt the car turn off the highway and curve around an exit. We make a bunch more turns, stopped at some traffic lights, and then we stopped. The engine turned. I had no idea where we were, but I could hear people speaking so that was a good sign I wasn’t going to die. I patted around for the door handle like looking for the snooze button in a dark bedroom. Francesco got out the car and opened the door for me, leading me out of the car and guiding me down a cobblestone sidewalk. Even though I couldn’t see, and he made me cover my ears, I could still feel people staring. I felt their eyes like heat on my body. I thought I smelled the sea. He led me up an uneven staircase, slowly, one step at a time. I had no idea where I was. My mind couldn’t fathom how I arrived here, climbing this unknown staircase wearing a blindfold on the other side of the world with a new friend.

The stairs ended and we stopped. The wind whipped my hair across my mouth. I could smell water. I imagined the Italian boot in my head and wondered where I was on it. Was I even in Italy anymore? I thought I heard people speaking Chinese.

Francesco told me to take off the blindfold. I reached behind my head and untied it. My eyes blinked into focus. There I was, standing on a bridge over a canal. I was standing over the most famous canals in the world. The lights on the buildings reflected on the dark water like a disco ball, or a pretty sparkly dress Beyonce would wear. I was in Venice. It was midnight, and I was standing in Venice.

Francesco pulled a bottle of Sangiovese from his backpack and tossed me a cup. We uncorked the top and clunked our cups together. Salute. He said, stuffing the wine back in his backpack. I’d never been to Venice before. It was 12:01am, and we had no plans but to spend the entire night getting lost in the streets.

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