On a humid morning in August, I landed at Aeroporto Marco Polo, hired a water taxi using my fragmented Italian, and struggled to carry my three suitcases down to the airport's dock. Tired and hot, I found my water taxi and collapsed on the seats of the sleek boat. The boat sailed across the lagoon and weaved through the labyrinthine canals, slowly revealing the enchanting city. I suddenly realized that THIS was Venice. This was the storied city, a place caught somewhere between myth and modernity. Part relic and part metropolis, this was Venice, my home for the next four months. I saw a glimpse of everything: the crumbling grandeur of the palazzi on the Grand Canal, the serene -- albeit smelly -- waters, the tourists, the few modern buildings placed among centuries-old architecture, the monstrous water buses, and the magnificent Piazza San Marco. Venice was built by history and myth, and yet it was alive and waiting to be explored. As the boat arrived at the dock of my new house, I alighted, already in love with Venice and with the keen desire to explore this magical city and, of course, to find some gelato. From my first water taxi ride to the city, Venice found its way into my heart, per sempre.