Let’s just be clear, given the title of this post.
There was no romantic connection whatsoever with the woman in the shot below.
I took her picture because the light fall off from the open side of the vaporetto gave good shading to her face, and provided wonderful catchlights in her eyes. What’s more the directness of her gaze produced a look reminiscent of a portrait by an old master.
To my eye she looked more Hispanic than Italian, and so I imagined her as Fermina Daza, the haughty woman at the heart of Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s tale of enduring love, a vision shattered by the realisation that Fermina’s natural hair colour was not so dark.
Cholera was another link between that book and this city. Mann’s Death in Venice features an outbreak of the infection that ultimately leads to the protagonist’s demise. Though the locations are factual the epidemic was not; there was an outbreak here in 1911 but it was far less serious than Mann suggests.
But back to Marquez. His title is a deliberate pun, for in Spanish the term may refer to both the disease, but also to passion and excitement. Now we’re back to how I feel about his city.