I hear that the new Depp/Jolie movie The Tourist revolves around some kind of mistaken identity/ deliberate subterfuge set in Venice. I don't know too much about that but this is one thing I can tell you about my recent visit to the city.
I was staying at Hotel Cipriani, a rather grand hotel that can only be reached via private motor boat. The hotel has its own dock near St Mark's square and you dial from a phone that sits inside a small chrome cabinet. After a few minutes a boat arrives to pick you up. On my last day I was waiting for the boat to arrive to go back to the hotel to pick up my case when a middle-aged woman and a teenage boy appeared beside me. They introduced themselves and I was told the boy was a photographer who was visiting the city to work on his portfolio and that the woman was his mother who was here to see the sights. They asked me if I was going to the hotel and if I knew their friend Elaine who was possibly staying in Venice and possibly staying at the Cipriani. I said yes and I said no and they said they would ride along with me to see if their friend was there.
We got on the boat. The woman kept talking to me and asking me questions as we boarded. The boy took out a disposable 35mm camera of the kind that is mostly made of cardboard and plastic and took a few random pictures. The woman showed me a piece of paper. These were the things she had been told were good things to do in Venice. What did I think? On the paper in block capitals CANALS. MASKS. GLASS. They were good things to do in Venice I couldn't argue there.
We got to the hotel. As soon as the boat was moored the two of them got up and walked up the dock and into the hotel. This was right in the middle of me asking them a question about something that I don't remember now. Up and gone just like that.
I picked up my bag from the concierge and went back to the dock. The boat had taken a couple of other guests over to the city. I waited ten minutes or so for it to return. Just as it pulled up the mother/boy appeared, walked straight by me and got on the boat. I went in after them and sat in the cabin. I asked the woman if she had found her friend but she looked at me as though she had never seen me before and didn't know what I was talking about. Without speaking the boy took a photo of me and then the two of them went out and stood on the back of the boat watching the hotel disappear. When the boat reached St Mark's Square they disembarked and merged into the crowds of tourists without a backwards glance.
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