I found magic in Venice.
What is this magic? It is the freedom of beauty in the midst of complicated decision making. It is being overwhelmed with magnificence, everywhere you look: history, culture and art, yet not losing sight of the wonder of yourself. And it is choosing to say ‘no’ to when the rest of the world says: ‘Come, see...what? Are you crazy?’
Venice is magnificent.
This may sounds absurd, but I’d almost forgotten Venice is the floating city. Yet you step off the train and there it is: the Grand Canal.
The way into the city is a waterway.
Having to get on a boat to arrive into a city seems to me the most deliciously romantic idea. I was instantly seduced, and I hadn’t even left the station.
In so many ways, Venice mirrored to me how I feel about my business and that fact flooded me with happiness.
Inspiring beauty, wild adventure, pure love, the grandest architecture, abundance, spirituality, and of course, all this, in Italy.
The monuments of the past: celebrating history and architecture and design. Sometimes, we have forgotten how to do formal: traditional, classical, perhaps slightly reserved.
Yes, it’s the British idea of dignity: polite and self-disciplined, gracious and elegant.
I wrote in my notebook “moments in chiese (churches)” to record the reflection that such space inspires in me. How it makes me feel.
Yet this tradition, allowing for and coupled with, the unformed and the wild freedom of the new: unapologetic and unreserved. I visited the Guggenheim Museum and spent an hour questioning, pondering the art I saw there: of Pollock and Magritte, Dali and Picasso.
Chuckling at myself for the Claire of a few years ago, who would worry she didn’t understand it. Instead now, I am glad I am willing to be open to art I’m not sure I really like, and even just delectably grateful for the privilege of seeing inside someone else’s house.
After I’d seen enough of the sculpture and paintings, I sat outside for a while, enjoying the sunshine in the museum’s garden.
I saw that Yoko Ono gifted Peggy Guggenheim a tree and the message inscribed on the metal label speaks simply. A message of love. A moment of comfort and a moment of tranquility from the towering creations that awaited me; in churches, in paintings, in vistas of water and Palladian architecture that set my heart on fire.
A feast which I was eager to have more of yet needed almost to prepare for, such awe I knew I would feel.
Sometimes we need peace before we go and do the work we are called to do.
Sometimes we need to just have what we need.
We know it and yet others probably don’t understand it.
Take what you need.
I used to work for an artist who paints Venice, beautifully, I might add. His voice was in my head and his paintings were in my mind’s eye, as I chose which direction to walk around and which sights to see. The Rialto Bridge, Arsenale, Spirito Santo, Santa Maria della Salute.
I couldn’t see them all. I didn’t want to see them all. I know he would be saying: 'Claire but did you see, this, and that?' But no. I know what I need and say no to the rest.
And really, that’s what my last few weeks have been about.
Space. Time. Distance.
I laughed to myself. I was spent, walking all day had tired me out and I wandered, a little aimlessly, through the Rialto markets, over the bridge and into the district of smart shops, back towards St Mark’s Square.
Something caught my eye. A row of purses in the shop window: three shades of pink. I’d wanted a new pink purse, but hadn’t found the one, despite looking in every shop with even a hint of potential (and there’s a lot here in the Veneto).
And so I preceded to spend half an hour in the Furla shop deciding exactly which pink shade I wanted.
Ten minutes later, had you been following me, you would have found me eating in a tiny, tacky pizzeria, biting into a hot cheesy slice.
Pink Furla purse. A 3 Euro slice of pizza.
This is how I roll.
Venice, I'll be back.
Even if you can only see a hint of what you want, a whisper of your truth, a glimmer of light, keep hold of it. It’s closer than you know.