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Lose yourself to Venice

The digital revolution and the ubiquity of smartphones has, in its rise to dominance, consigned many a thing to the dustbin of history. One is the ability to get truly lost. But Venice can't be conquered that easily, even by Google.

The Digital Revolution and the ubiquity of smartphones has, in its rise to dominance, consigned many a thing to the dustbin of history. Fax, landlines and trips to Blockbuster typically come to mind. One lesser-known casualty of the smartphone is the ability to get lost. Whilst a blessing for those without any sense of direction now with a few swipes and taps ‘wandering’ and ‘rambling’ are in danger too.

Yet one of the greatest experiences one can have while abroad is to get lost, to wander aimlessly and without purpose. Only by detaching yourself from purpose is it possible to appreciate places, people and events as they occur- to live truly in the present. With getting lost comes a liberation of sorts.

Perhaps this is why Venice has retained her mystery and magic, a sense of alienness and exoticism that other cities have lost with the advent of mass media and widespread holidaying. For, as many a frustrated tourist working to a tight schedule may attest to, GPS and Google Maps are fairly useless in Venice. The narrowness of the streets and the sheer density of the city compressed into a fairly small space renders Apple and Google Maps pretty much useless. And so much the better! In forcing people to look around, to try and find signs and placards leading down alleys so tight as to make them one-way, it obligates tourists to experience the city in ways that simply aren’t possible elsewhere. Nor does getting lost in Venice take away from the experience, rather- the best locations in Venice are to be found by stumbling across them, often completely by surprise!

Take for example the Acqua Alta bookstore which opens out onto a canal and is resident to (at last count) five cats. For booklovers especially the library is a trove and unlike anywhere else in the world. Books sprawl out onto the floor and in the centre of the shop lies a former gondola, filled to the brim with books in all languages. Getting lost in Venice is also made much more pleasant by the proliferation of small bars and restaurants- often as claustrophobic and narrow as the streets that they look out on which act as useful stopping off points while exploring.

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