Phillip Wong // The Articles

Mazeophobia

29th March 2013

Early morning from the Santa Maria della Salute.

I arrived into Venice late in the evening. While I didn’t know when the last check-in time was, I did know that my accommodation was located three quarters of the way to other side of the island. Not a problem; map in hand and GPS on my phone, I would make it in time. How hard could this be.

An hour later I achieved the pinnacle of getting lost. I came to a stretch of footpath that I recognised because I’d walked this route a little while earlier. This was the mother lode; walking in an inadvertent circle. Fortunately, I was already quite close to my destination and it wasn’t much longer before I found the non-descript entrance and was being entertained by the Brazilian proprietor who loved New Zealand.

The classic view from the Ponte dell'Accademia towards Santa Maria della Salute.

Venice’s mystique is a crowd puller and it’s definitely a place to visit before it sinks into the ocean. The island must be one of the most densely populated postage stamps of land around (by day at least). In some ways, it’s successful in being able to contain such a heaving mass of tourists and do so effectively enough so that each day is as busy as the previous. Navigating around, however, is… difficult.

Without such pressing circumstances, I may have found it easier to find my way but therein lies the inherent problem of creating a logical map for this place. On that evening I was thwarted, not because of a lack of detail, but because my map had so much detail.

Luxuriously wide.

Venice is a collection of walkways, but not all walkways are created equal. The luxurious kind allows for several adults to walk side by side in relative comfort (the key word being relative). Others are single file and uncomfortably narrow. On a map, these are all drawn the same, so, when you see a gap between two buildings and think to yourself that that can’t possibly be for humans, it likely is.

To my uninitiated self on that evening, this complete detailing of walkways gave the impression that Venice was much larger than it really was, throwing off my sense of distance. The reality is this place is tiny and over the coming days I would learn this as I walked from one side to the other. As added confirmation of my beginner’s incompetency, on my last day when I made the reverse journey from my accommodation to the train station at the island’s entrance, it would take 15 minutes.

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