“But in vain I set out to visit the city: forced to remain motionless and always the same, in order to be more easily remembered, [Venice] has languished, disintegrated, disappeared. The earth has forgotten her.” Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
On first coming to Venice, one does not want to leave. The beguiling streets and endless canal vistas call out to be explored for months, or even years.
Yet over time, Venice reveals absences – not in itself, but in those who travel there. Any loss or void in your life is magnified by the city until it becomes unbearable. Lack of love, lack of purpose, lack of contentment, lack of knowledge. Perhaps only the perfectly happy can be content in Venice. Perhaps even they are shown the critical flaws in their own perfection.
Whatever it is you are missing, you have to find it outside of the city. Venice is a place where love, like the ending of a story or anything else, is often lost but never found.
One more note – you also know you are ready to leave the city if, even for an instant, you treat it like your home. Even a single instant of normality (in my case, becoming absorbed in a newspaper whilst drinking coffee besides the Grand Canal) is enough to shatter the illusion, to let you know the bewitching spell of the city is ending and that it is time to move on.