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A Small MomentMarch 21, 2012

I had a glorious moment tonight when I remembered again why I'm here in Venice. 

Because, and I say this with some embarrassment, there are occasional moments when I forget. Like when my feet are tired. Or when I'm lost, and not in the good way (say, if I can't find the apartment while carrying two bottles of wine, and I've had to pee for thirty minutes). Or when I notice that every single damn person in Venice is with someone else. I have lonely little pathetic moments when I remember the times I've been here with loved ones, and how nice it was to have someone to chat with instead of being the perpetual eavesdropper. (And I chose to come alone. This was what I wanted. What I want. So it feels stupid to have these moments. But there it is.) 

Every time I feel this way, I immediately find a cafe and I order either a cafelatte or a spritz, depending on whether it's before or after three pm (the time is arbitrary to my own taste -- I've seen people drinking at nine in the morning). I pull out my knitting or I write in my journal, and the world gets positively radiant. It's amazing. 

Tonight, I couldn't decide what to do. I'd had stunning luck at finding yarn (cashmere at Lellabella!) and bad luck at finding the Hemingway exhibit I read about yesterday (I was a year late). The light was leaving the sky. Should I go home? Find dinner? Have a snack? A drink? Go grocery shopping? I stood on a bridge, confused and tired. Then I saw a tiny old woman in a wheelchair sitting in front of a cafe in Campo Santa Maria Formosa. I sat next to her. Buona sera, I said, and she looked surprised at being addressed by a stranger, but she responded politely if coolly. 

I pulled out my knitting.

She did a double, then a triple take. Then she started grinning at me. I grinned back. At 6:26, the bells started ringing (in eighteen years of coming to Venice, I've never been able to figure out why or when bells ring). I sat in utter, complete joy to be exactly where I was. 

She left shortly thereafter while the bells were still ringing, giving me one last grin and a tiny wave as her daughter pushed her chair away. Sadly, she's not caught by the video below, but in this moment, I had tiny tears of complete and total joy. 

These moments are why I'm here. 


Hi Rachel,

I am enjoying your Venice postings very much. You are not alone out there. We are traveling with you!

Ok, I'm blubbering on my deck right now! What a beautiful story...and the sound of the bells...well, that would be enough to make anyone want to return to Venice, over and over and over! xxx

I love that little video! Ah, the bells ... And your story brought tears to my eyes. In a good way!

I travel solo occasionally, and get what you're saying about "those moments" ... they do come, but your response to them can make all the difference. Your solution is perfect!

Thank you for sharing your happy moment. Currently, I am sitting at Panera,knitting,and watching your video.
But tomorrow, I'm definitly renewing that passport!

Thanks for sharing this joy with us.

Love your pics, but especially today's video. Brought back memories of when my niece & I were sitting almost in the same spot a couple of years ago. And the bells!!I've traveled all over the world, but never alone. I admire you for that. Thanks for the memories.

I see that I need to renew my passport. Never know when the opportunity will arise for another trip to Italy. Really enjoying your posts. Thank you


Totally love the Grinning and Knitting. Amazing moment indeed.

Love.Why traveling alone is soooo worth it.


Traveling by myself has been exhausting and frightening at times, quite an effort, sometimes best enjoyed in retrospect. I'm glad for your moment. Easy does it.


Truly a magic moment! I love those times when I know exactly why I am in a particular place, at a particular time. The results: joy and overwhelming gratitude.

Is it weird that my thoughts during the video were "Oh my god, look at all those Italian people."
What beautiful bells, I think that there is something in everyone that loves a bel.

Knitting speaks across language barriers.

Grazie, molto grazie.

I'm guessing the bells toll at noon-ish and 6-ish. That's when Catholics traditionally pray the Angelus which is a devotional, call-and-response prayer, your bells are a call to prayer, like the muezzin from a mosque. Hearing those bells always reminds me of my grandmother who prayed the Angelus with us after a meal when we were all gathered, and I hear her voice in my head intoning the beginning, "The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary..." Thanks for the reminder and the beautiful bells.

I know right where this video was taken. Such a beautiful square. I may have to try going to Venice alone one day since my husband doesn't want to go back to Italy.

Definitely can't ever get enough of Venice!
An amazing place. Happy to think about my visits there any time.
Thanks for posting!

You remember my story about the church bells in Dublin, right? How I got to ring them? I bet you twenty bucks someone bribed the right person, and I'll bet you another twenty that you or I will be that person when we go there together...

Oh, I'm aching with longing for Venice. I stayed at a hostel right off this square for a few nights and enjoyed watching people in the square from a table at the same cafe. There are so many memories I would never have, if I hadn't traveled alone.

I just love your writing. The little details make it so real for me. Thanks for sharing your experience.

I am new to your blog and I don't knit but I do feel, like you, that my soul is Veniziana. Thanks for sharing your beautiful moments. I'll be with you on this lovely trip.

Hi, I found my way here thanks to Stash and Burn.... listened to their first podcast and they mentioned your blog.....
I love the voice in your writing, it is as if we are together just chatting, but you also invite us into your interior thoughts, thank you....
I have never visited Italy and have traveled alone only once or twice, but you have inspired me to get a passport and try it.
Your videos are precious, the lone accordian player brought a wistful smile to my face, but my favorite thing is your smile at the end of the clips, you look so contented.

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