If Italy were a videogame, Venice would be the second level.
You’ve still got the twisty streets you had in Rome, and plenty of other old cities I’ve been in - except now, you replace over half of those streets (including the main one that runs through the whole town) with water. You know how in first-person games, you’ll often come upon a grate that hinders your progress - or some ridiculous piece of design like “the ground just stops here” that seems trite and lazy when you see it. The person who made that level isn’t bored with their job or trying to cut corners, they’re accurately simulating Venice. You’ll just be going along and then, no sign, no nothing - just mute water.
I’m pretty screwed up at this point, thinking of Venice - a human city - as a “level” is just the start of it. Everywhere I look I see the underlying game mechanism. All I have with me is WarioWare, which is cool, but if I don’t get something substantial at some point over here I’m going to freak the fuck out.
I saw the old ladies with the woven donation baskets pleading with me in a foreign tongue, and all I could think about was whether the pictures of Jesus and Mary they had in there conferred some kind of donation bonus.
Of course, there’s a metagame being played by the entire city, how much money can we make off tourists before our gravy train sinks like Atlantis beneath the waves.
The psychotic break made was practically audible when I walked off streets that looked like the Italy level in CounterStrike only to find myself with twenty people playing the Italy level inside an Internet Cafe. Thank God that place had a liquor license.