(CNN) — I was visiting my colleague at La Fenice, the old opera house in Venice that was transformed last year into a Greek gondola sailer for the MASSOLA festival. The venue is currently undergoing renovation, but I was there to take a tour around some of the more beautiful gardens in Venice. It was a wonderful day, and we set out on the Il Delle Reprezenti, a canal boat that specialises in delving into the gardens.
About halfway down a canal, I noticed a commotion in the distance, and from where I was standing, I could see on the balconies of the gondola houses their residents enjoying a barbecue.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that the fire had been started by me, as I had pulled my tap handle all the way to the inside of the revolving door into the house.
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It worked just like I intended it to — the button would stop, but it wouldn’t go any farther. So, the roaster in the middle of the restaurant beeped.
For the next hour, the roaster would be beeping relentlessly. I was, of course, feeling a bit annoyed.
This game was not a trivial error. We were more than 200 meters from the nearest exit. Our water taxi would have meandered through the labyrinth of narrow, winding canals to the rescue, but we didn’t have access to that. The only place to turn away was up on the mansion’s third floor, which is tiny.
Italian locals prefer to walk between homes and properties. That’s how everyone gets the best gas on the island’s islands.
By the time the evening ended, I felt like I was back in Venice. But I wasn’t. And the rotund blue gondola had to continue meandering back around the canals.
A simpler solution
If my mistake has taught me anything, it’s this: don’t fiddle with the button on the water taxi.
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Unfortunately, tap buttons appear to be the favorite thing of early 21st-century Venice. The mustachioed scullery staff were only a few months removed from smearing sunblock over the button, because it would start after a run. I bet they’re thinking how good it would be to invite air-conditioned passengers onboard instead of their sunburnt and dead-on-their-feet compatriots.
There are a few restaurants on the islands of San Marco and San Giacomo where you can visit with tap handles exposed. I’ve eaten in a number of them, and every one of them asked me to tap the button. So, there must be something about the button that draws people in.
Certainly, their bodies want to touch it, so there must be some kind of essence of Venice there. I don’t think it’s that deeply philosophical, though. But even if it is, I’m pretty sure it would be far better if people tended to just look at the things they see.