Poems

UNA LETTERA D’AMORE PER VENEZIA

For all the people, the noise and the heat,

And some might claim, the smell,

La Serenissima never fails to enchant

In all her fading, crumbling majesty.

At dawn’s emerging light, vaporetti and traghetti 

Compete for space on crowded Canal Grande,

Past the bustling barges of bass and bream

Destined for slabs on Mercato di Rialto. 

After a lukewarm doppio espresso

And fistful of olive e uovo tramezzini,

Most fragile and delicate of sandwiches,

I resolve to lose myself and escape the 

Oppressive throng slouching towards me. 

Narrow, dark calli and sotoportegi 

Open into vast, vivacious campi

Where scruffy children chase footballs, 

Dreaming they are Messi or Ronaldo,

Or if their fathers coached them well,

Paolo Rossi or Roberto Baggio. 

Intervals of sweet, intense silence,

Splintered only by hurried footsteps,

Or the plash of a gondolieri’s oar,

Pervade the squares and alleyways 

Of Castello and Canareggio.

Down a deserted, soundless rio,

Far from the countless, careless hordes 

Spewed from colossal cruise ships

Docked at Baciano Della Stazione Marritima,

A charming pizzeria calls to me from

Beneath a washing line of “smalls” hung high.

At midnight the bands at Florian and Quadri

Are muffled by the mighty, mournful toll 

Of the Campanile di San Marco; 

And English tourists recluctantly drink up

Their gin and tonics and squint

Incredulously at the final bill. 

Mia cara Venezia, tu sei troppo bella

Ti amero sempre.

A POEM BY TONY QUARRINGTON

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