I’d always wondered if spending an evening on the canals of Italy would be as picturesque as it looked. Since riding in a gondola in Venice sitting beside a romantic date wasn't possible on this trip, walking through the Navigli canals on a food and wine tour in Milan seemed the next best thing.
I didn’t think Milan was located near any water so I asked a friend of mine who lived there for years what she thought of the canals. She didn’t recall them and asked me if they were newly built.
When I told her I thought they were constructed around the twelfth century, she didn't know how she could have missed them.
But apparently these centuries-old waterways were easy to overlook.
It seems the canals were abandoned and eventually covered over by the 1930s, and only in the past few years have they been revitalized into a trendy nightspot.
Tour books I read said that although eateries and art boutiques have sprung up, the area is still a bit edgy in places so I was glad I'd be part of a group.
We were gathered at the city’s oldest canal when our leader arrived.
He was a part-time tour guide, part-time flight attendant and former model.
When he mentioned eating pasta at his mother’s house and joked about his age, which just happened to be exactly the age I am, I made my way to the head of the pack to investigate his background a little further.
I moved my walking speed up a notch to keep pace with him, laughing at his jokes, and nodding attentively as he told us his tour-guide tales. I noticed that he rolled his eyes when almost everybody opted for the same wine to sample — a safe kind that sounded familiar to them.
So when it was my turn, I chose a local wine and caught his eye. I preened when he winked at me and applauded my choice.
He talked about Leonardo devising engineering plans for the canals in the 1400s, and pointed out where the local women washed their clothes until the canals were drained and covered up.
These canals of Milan were quite the picture for the word I'd chosen for the year, way back in January when I hadn’t even the slightest inclination of traveling to Italy this summer.
These canals were once-vibrant, once-lovely, then lost and forgotten.
But not everything that looks dead is. Not everything that is abandoned stays lost. Not everything that looks finished is over.I think this might be true for cities and relationships, friendships and families, dreams and hopes, too.
Might there be something in your life that needs uncovered and brought back to life?
Maybe it’s not too late for an infusion of inspiration to breathe life into it.
At our last stop, our tour-guide-flight-attendant-model offered to walk us back to the Milan train station. I grabbed my bag and sprinted to his side as he asked where I was headed.
When I told him I was boarding a bus for the curvy road to Lake Como the next morning, he said he’d be riding his motorcycle to Lake Como the next day too, to lead an all-day tour.
He scoffed at my uneasiness about the winding road and said I'd be fine. So we said arrivederci at the train station.
I think my evening spent sampling wine and olives, meat and cheese as I walked through the revived streets and over bridges of the canals in Milan might have been more fun than floating under those bridges in a gondola.
Unless of course, someday I happen to be riding in a gondola beside a romantic date.
I'm linking up with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart. Click the image if you'd like to read more encouraging posts.