Hijacked in Venice
Cue the most romantic, wanderlust inducing moonlit grand canal boat ride around Venice, Italy.
I’m talking city lit up all around you almost as if by candlelight. The moon shining down on you like a beacon from the universe reminding you how amazing life is. Gliding softly across the calm water, moving just enough to reflect this unreal city back at you, surrounding you in its beauty.
I could stare at these views all night.
And I probably would have. If I hadn’t met Pierro. Or should I say, if Pierro hadn’t met us.
And now cue meet cute with 83 year old Venetian character – Pierro. (Pierro the Good, not the Terrible he will go on to tell us).
I’m not sure if Pierro rode this boat nightly just looking for (beautiful) tourists like us, or we just happened to cross paths, but I’ll never forget him.
It happened so quick. I’m soaking in the night. My mom and aunt to my right, my friend Steph to my left. We’re each in our own worlds, thinking our deep thoughts. Ok, one of us was trying to just not be seasick. But don’t ruin the moment.
And then Pierro decides to join the club. (I mean, I get it. We’re fun.). I can’t remember if it’s a tap on the shoulder, an arm around the waist, broken English spoken to my mom, or what prompted us all turning to notice Pierro 5 inches from us, giving us his undivided attention. But there he was. In all his glory.
He is animated. He is Italian. He is short and well dressed. Smiling and sparkling in the eye. He is super sweet and really endearing, and I definitely can’t understand a word he’s saying.
He’s gesturing and talking with his hands and smiling and being so very Italian in his mannerisms, and it’s awesome, but I can’t understand a word he’s saying. Is he selling us something? Is he lost? Just saying hello? Who knows, but my attention is all on him now- bye bye moonlit views.
We practice our elementary Italian, he his English. He’s giving Steph and I life lessons, the most important being that we only have “una mama.” Which he explains by pointing to us, then my mom, then us again holding up one index finger repeating “una mama, sola una mama, la mama!” This is something I will remember forever.
Time passes as we “talk” and glide through the night. He sings, he dances. What a show. And then somehow we are getting off the boat with Pierro, on our way to get a nightcap. I can’t explain this, I don’t know how it happens. He’s such a sweet talker, isn’t he?
So we’re going to his favorite spot. This must be where he takes all the ladies. They know him here. We order espresso shots at 10pm, because we are tourists and that’s tiring and what the hell is he saying, I need something to help. He orders red wine.
We sit in a wooden booth and laugh and smile and yawn and whatisgoingon.
I know he’s giving us life lessons. Teaching us about Venice. And at one point he sings some opera while I attempt to drum to it…I can’t explain.
It’s only been an hour, but it feels like a lifetime. I’m in one of those jetlag, walked around all day, trying to have a conversation in another language states of tired. We all are. Except Pierro, who is as alive as ever.
I go from the booth to the front to pay our bill and boom! There’s Pierro, right next to me. He might be 83, but he’s swift. We fight over the bill. I lose. He smiles.
As we make our way out of the bar, back to the boat to continue our ride home, Pierro parts ways with us as quickly as he joined. He lives nearby, he says, and will walk in this beautiful moonlight.
We say we understand. It’s a gorgeous night. In fact, all we wanted was to take in this night with our boat ride by moonlight and a nightcap of gelato. But alas, Venice had its own plans. We were hijacked in the best of ways.
As we wave goodbye, Pierro leaves us with one last piece of advice – “[there is] solo Venezia, la luna, y tu.” (“there is only Venice, the moon, and you”). Thank you Pierro. Thank you Venice. It all comes full circle in the moonlight, doesn’t it? What an unexpected evening. What an unforgettable man.
The best (worst?) part about travelling is that sometimes things just don’t go as planned. While I am a sucker for liking the challenge this brings, sometimes it’s just too much. And sometimes, like in the case with Pierro, it’s not what you planned, but it’s better than you could have expected. Pierro taught us to live in the moment, to see the beauty right in front of us, to calm down about the plan, the beauty of meeting new people, and most importantly, that we only have “una mama.”
Have you met someone unforgettable on a trip that you never expected? Learned a life lesson from a local? Or just had your night hijacked? Let us know in the comments!