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Sunday, September 17, 2023


by Alejandro Escudé

Venice has finally revealed the details for its entrance fee, making it the first city in the world to charge daytripper visitors. Starting in spring 2024, visitors to the floating city will have to pay 5 euros ($5.40) to enter on peak days if they’re not staying the night. But this isn’t a permanent move yet – the Venice authorities have committed to a 30-day “experiment.” —CNN, September 13, 2023

When you first get there—

Your ocean liner looms over 

The island city and you spot

The ancient roofs and the plazas,

The gryphons, and the gold-fringed

Streets, both real and imagined,

And the people on the cruise

Get off onto the bridges, you 

Smell the canals—leafy, oily, 

And the mask you purchase is 

Expensive, the plague doctor,

And you drink a cold beer

And you eat in a restaurant

Down a corridor, and you think

Of the writing you should be

Doing, and every corner brings 

That lifelong, exquisite guilt, 

And you sidle through crowds

And get too hot and walk

Out too far, where there are

Fewer people, only sunlight

Splashing against a cracked wall.

And you are in Venice, but

At night, it’s Euro-urban scary, 

And you’re alone and lost

And you almost miss the boat

Though the boat is docked close.

You take the tender back 

To the pastel-colored cake-boat

That is every cruise and you 

Go to the ship’s casino and sit at

The red neon bar, and you forget

That you were ever in Venice

And it’s almost twenty years

Later and you learn that now

Venice wants to charge a fee

Like an amusement park, and

It makes you sad to look at 

Your mask, hanging on your

Wall, remembering the latest 

Plague. But it makes you 

Even sadder to learn there

Will be days in that city

Where it’s not advised 

That you visit because of

Crowds. And you think:

I’d go anyway. I’d go

Right now just to smell

Those canals again. Just 

To see that palace, fringed

In gold. To feel that heavy,

Doge’s sun like one coin

Of the two that sit upon 

My aging poet’s eyes. 

Alejandro Escudé published his first full-length collection of poems My Earthbound Eye in September 2013. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis and teaches high school English. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.