This is Casanova's home town and romance is everywhere, writes Mal Chenu
When prominent human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin married US actor and coffee salesman George Clooney in Venice, the world swooned, and not just at the genetically blessed couple. Sun-soaked and frocked-up herself, the city put on a stunning display seen by billions.
You don't have to lead a wedding flotilla on the iconic waterways, share a Bellini with Matt Damon or swap vows at the Aman Canal Grand Hotel to feel the romance of Venice. Yes, of course George, Amal and their guests are more fabulous than the rest of us, but we all put our coffee in the espresso machine one pod at a time and we can all savour the Venetian passion.
Venice is like an exciting new lover. Arousing and uniquely beautiful, she draws you out of yourself and inspires you to push your boundaries - across one more ponte, around the next corner, down another alleyway. She entices you to be bolder, more adventurous, more alive.
She dresses to please and you smile, ecstatic to be in her company, thrilled that she is on your arm. You wish that other cities – where you were ripped off or that disappointed you – could see you now, with your hot new love.
This is Casanova's home town and romance is everywhere. Pretty young things hold hands and make love with their eyes. Gondolas glide by, dressed to kill in gleaming black lacquer with a posy of flowers on the bow, guided by the firm and experienced hand of sexy gondoliers with perpetual three-day growths. Even the piano accordionist with the soggy stogey hanging from his lips is appealing as he serenades passers-by with his lilting version of O Solo Mio.
Venice tempts you with her wiles. Her mystique makes you doe-eyed and giddy. Everything about her is intriguing. Shall we try that trattoria? How about a cocktail at Harry's Bar or a $20 cappuccino in Piazza San Marco? What young romantic scrawled that graffito and what does it mean?
Layers of exotic accents thrill your ears. Her rococo, baroque and Romanesque splendours mingle and delight the eye. Gen Instagram pout and smile as they snap selfies on the Ponte di Rialto. Tour groups follow raised umbrellas and pause here and there to learn another of her sensual secrets. Shop keepers yell to each other from the doorways of their elegant boutiques, their hands saying as much as their words.
Sure there's the gauche souvenir shops knocking out trinketry like miniscule Murano glass curios, I 'heart' Venezia T-shirts and cheap Carnevale masks, but you never notice a fresh lover's flaws, do you? You buy it all.
Bella Venezia, you had me at "Bongiorno".