24 April 2008

A haunted house

What do you make of this beautiful old home, and its expansive, terraced garden surrounded by a forbidding iron fence, seemingly abandoned to the weeds, the sea wind, and the rain? I see it on my way to and from the mercato in Lido on Tuesday mornings. There is never a single sign of light or life inside. Every week the lush jungle encroaches further, the moldy steps crumble more, the curtains hanging out the still-open windows are grubbier. A few kitchen chairs scattered about the grounds have rotted to the point of collapsing. There’s not even a hint of birdsong here.

Why would anyone leave such a lovely house to die this way? It’s as if some glamorous Italian movie star forgot to lock up after a long weekend of luxurious Lido fun with her famous friends… and just never came back. Perhaps she gambled her money away, fell on hard times, or met with some accident, and her house remains stuck in the Venetian version of probate. (Imagine what a bureaucratic nightmare that might be!)

Or maybe it’s something more sinister that drove the house’s owner away so hurriedly, and still keeps her from coming back. After all, Venice is teeming with ghosts. Might not two or three of them make their way over the waves of the Bacino and take up residence in such a pretty pink palazzo?