“One fall day not long ago two children, 12 and 13, from Grosseto, a town in Tuscany, decided to run away. Their parents disapproved of their romance, so they saved and spent their allowance on a train to Venice. They walked narrow streets paved in stone and lingered on the bridges that vault the canals. Night approached, and with it the need for a place to stay. They arrived at the Hotel Zecchini, a modest guesthouse with an inviting orange-and-white awning. The clerk heard a small voice ask about a room, looked up, saw nothing, leaned over the desk, and looked into the faces of two children. Skeptical of their story about an aunt who would arrive soon, he gently questioned them, listened, then called the carabinieri.
“Such innocence and tenderness. They just wanted to be together,” said Elisa Semenzato, the hotel manager. When the carabinieri arrived, they took the pair on a tour of the city in their boat, then to district headquarters in a former convent and put them to bed in very separate rooms. The next day they were served a three-course meal on a table set with linens in a hall facing the 15th-century courtyard.
Romance triumphs; reality intrudes. The parents, less than enchanted with the Romeo and Juliet narrative acted out by their children, arrived that afternoon to take them back to Grosseto, away from the soft ache of first love and the gilded beauty of Venice.
Kisses end. Dreams vanish, and sometimes cities too. We long for the perfect ending, but the curtain falls along with our hearts.
Beauty is so difficult.”