In Venice, Italy there is a local legend that says if two lovers kiss under the Bridge of Sighs at sunset, they will love each other forever. I first learned of this legend in 1979 as a teenager watching the movie A Little Romance which stars an also teenaged Diane Lane and an aging Sir Laurence Olivier.
Ms. Lane plays an awkward, bookish, American girl living in France with her diplomat father and gregarious mother. She meets and falls in love with a local French boy just in time to find that her father is being reassigned back to the States and moving the family to Houston. Olivier tells the young lovers of how he and his now departed wife kissed beneath the Bridge of Sighs (Ponte de Sospiri in Italian) at sunset while the bells of the tower chimed and that the legend is true. The teens decide they must travel to Italy to live their own legend and seal their love forever. Romantic happenings and comic shenanigans ensue.
Venice, the feeling of love and romance abounds. Art abounds as well. Thomas and I spent a week there and I think we saw every museum the city had to offer. By the last day, neither of us could look at one more tryptic of la madonna e bambino! Between museum visits, we did however, have time to visit some of the famed sites and buildings of Venice including the Bridge of Sighs and the Doge’s Palace.
The Bridge of Sighs links the interrogation rooms of the Doge’s Palace to the old prisons and thus seems an unlikely candidate for romance. It takes its name from the idea that prisoners would stop on the bridge, sigh, and take their last view of Venice before heading to their cells.
On our tour of the palace, we walked across the Bridge of Sighs, stopped midway, and looked out the small opening out to the sea. One can imagine the sense of loss and remorse those prisoners might have felt. Their last breath of freedom.
Thomas and I never kissed beneath the Bridge of Sighs at sunset while the bells of the tower chimed. But after 25+ years together, I think we were able to create our own legend, one way or another, and seal our love forever.