Never go back. Not even for the run-up.
She turned onto a street which barely hosted her shoulders. The walls reached up high and surely, the neighbours could have touched hands from window to window had they have wanted too. Bed sheets swayed above her and there was a harsh screech from the old dear pulling in her washing line. She hastily scuttled through the alley with a fear that if somebody came in the other direction, they would have to awkwardly pass each other chest to chest.
The wormhole of a street opened up to a grand block of a building. The Accademia. A few dark green kiosks were selling some tourist novelties. She wandered towards the big wooden bridge and trekked to the top. Standing in the middle she was finally presented with the Grand Canal. The view to the left showed off an arc of the canal, with glaring palaces guarding its boundaries. The view to the right led out towards the Salute church and into the Lagoon which seemed endless. The horizon faded into never. Light bounced off the gondolas and taxis hurrying back for dinner time. She took a long deep breath to inhale the view and the various shades of purple and turquoise playing in the lagoon. She was still hungry. The other side of the bridge seemed crowded with tourists.
She heard heavy clanking behind her. A young guy in dark green work pants with tattooed arms was hauling a hollow wheelbarrow-esque trolley loaded with packages. He was not slowing down for any folk occupying the width of the bridge trying to take pictures. He stormed past her and she saw this as an opportunity to split through the crowd. He pummeled through and she walked in his wake. She passed a lot of pizza bars, ice cream places and restaurants full of pictures in the window with waiters outside trying to coax you in.
This guy had a deadline. He halted outside a café and parked his barrow of packages. Sweating, he walked into the bar.
No words were exchanged but the bartender poured a small beer and served a small plate with a sandwich in front of him.
Tramezzini. Small triangular crustless sandwiches, usually stuffed with mayo clad fillings that labourers and tourists love alike.
“ Ara sta Caghilibri….fa bene studiare” He muttered as he scoffed the snacks down pointing out at Campo San Stefano to a stoic statue perched upon books. She raised her chin and hovered in front of the bar. She pointed at a couple of tramezzini with tooth picked signs propped in them. Insalata Russa and Porchetta e Senape. Then she pointed at the delivery guy’s beer. Silently, the bartender placed all in front of her. The delivery guy looked at her with a raised eyebrow, confused. Probably because she’d pointed at him. He leant his glass over all the same and mumbled ‘Salute’ as he washed down the last bite and his second yet final gulp of beer.
“Grazie Marco!” He yelled as he smacked five euros on the bar. He grabbed the black handles of his barrow and defiantly trundled on up the bridge. She placed her five euros on the bar in a slightly more gracious manner and smiled hard as she Ciao´d her way out. The bartender solemnly waved back as he continued to clean. He smirked proudly as she exited with her shoulders back. She couldn’t see the delivery guy any more but the street had widened so she didn’t need her human bulldozer. She walked on towards Rialto Bridge and gazed up at the beckoning staircase of the bridge that nobody thought could be built. She wasn’t ready to cross that bridge. Instead, an alley to the right towards the old Post Office. She heard “Don’t Stop” by the Rolling Stones blaring, people laughing and glasses clinking.
Two girls bopped at the bar. One with short tousled hazel hair and a mod leather jacket and the other in a top too big for her that draped scantily off of her shoulder.
“Well, you bit my lip and drew first blood, and warmed my cold, cold heart, you wrote your name right on my back….boy, your nails were sharp”
“Don’t stop!” They clinked their glasses and giggled. Every wall was plastered with graffiti, scribblings, notes from guests, declarations of love and random lyrics. A television played the live Rolling Stones concert and to the left was a long chalkboard listed with wine. She perched at the bar and couldn’t hold back her smile, buzzing off the girls having a good time.
She went for the Schioppettino, a red from the Veneto region.
“Prego, prego” The girls nudged over and welcomed her into the bar space. The bartender looked like a travel blogger. Black rimmed glasses, a grown yet groomed beard and all of his clothes fell into the denim or plaid variety. He was polite yet unimpressed, like a hipster who refuses to accept his identity.
“Woo hoo…woo hooo!” The girls screamed as Katy Tunstall’s ‘Black horse and a cherry tree’ streamed through. They had probably had more than one wine.
“Well, my heart knows me better than I know myself so I’m gonna let it do all the talking”
Now the girls were dancing, singing, laughing and swinging.
“No, it’s waaaking” “Don’t look back just keep on waking” All of a sudden the girls were slurring about the lyrics in between swaying and sipping.
“You know! you’re English” The loser of the two aimed at her. How did everyone correctly assume she was English?
“Huhmm, it’ walking… don’t look back just keep on walking”
“Bravissima!” Mod jacket yelled and used her none wine laden hand to grab her into their early on dance party. She rolled with the buzz and embraced the pop tune whilst happily losing a few drops of wine from her glass.
They all gasped as the song ended and they gravitated back to the stability of the bar.
“Elisa” She smiled holding out a hand. “Martina” the other girl seductively smiled with a doped wave.
Elisa asked her about the wine and started to explain the region where it was from. She listened intently to the free sommelier course. Then both girls started arguing about the best Schioppettino. The argument ended with Martina grabbing her hand.
“Dai, Andiamo allora!” They were yelling but happy.
“We go to Al Merca” Elisa put her arm around her and led her out of the door.
At this point, why not? They walked out and onwards towards Rialto. She was ready to cross the bridge and she didn’t look back. Not even for the run-up.