Italy

Imagine this…

A girl with long blond hair steps into a black gondola with velvet pillows, riding next to her lover down a narrow canal underneath one of the many bridges Venice is known for. Her eyes are pleased by the flowerpot filled with red bougainvillea on the pale yellow building with dark green shutters. There are no cars and no roadways in this unique city, comprised of 118 small islands, all separated by canals. The gondolier is ferrying them to their destination while serenading them with his version of Volare.

They land in Piazza San Marco to stop for a cappuccino and Venetian cookies at a nearby outside café. They notice an elderly couple at a table sipping an espresso. His wrinkled hand is holding hers. She uses her other hand to bite into a cookie, savoring the almond-flavored notes of her treat. Her eyes still revel after 85 years of looking at the ornate gold mosaics, arches, and Italo-Byzantine architecture of St. Mark’s Basilica. A gentleman in a white suit and a light blue bowtie is singing opera for the guests, surrounded by numerous pigeons fighting for crumbs on the floor.

He notices a middle-aged British couple leaving the café hand in hand. The pale gentleman with red hair tells his wife he hopes they won’t get lost walking through the mazelike alleyways. She smiles, secretly hoping they will. Window displays are filled with bright, multicolored carnival masks that all seem to have gold shimmering around the eyes. She stops him around a quiet corner, in the center of a bridge with black cast-iron detail, to steal a kiss from him. His cheeks blush bright red as he feels a spark in his body that reignites the flame they felt when they first fell in love.