Ok, before we start the official “post”, I have to just say Holy Cow the train we took from Rome to Venice goes over water, and not on a bridge. Thus started our three day tour of Venezia, Italy’s water city and one of the most unique places we have visited. To get anywhere you either walk or ride via Vaporetto (water bus) – we chose Vaporetto. This is an experience in and of itself, definitely not the most romantic way to travel – the driver ‘stops’ at each floating dock station by crashing into the side rails…every. single. time. – but it was definitely fun and a good way to see the city for cheap. On the maps of Venice we’ve studied our bed and breakfast appeared to be rather far north from the hubbub of the city, however, as we were busy snapping pictures of our first views of San Marco we realized that our stop was literally three bridges down! How exciting for us! The B&B itself was very charming, with a view of San Marco to the right, and a beautiful harbor a huge yacht out front. Niccolo, our host, had just opened the B&B a year ago and was very happy to have a full house of guests. We soon discovered that not only did Niccolo speak perfect English, he also spoke Spanish and we’re pretty sure the remaining romance languages. All of this to our “non parlo italiano”. Great.
Our first day was spent walking around and exploring the area after a quick glass of vino with some of the other guests at the B&B. We loved all of the canals and bridges and felt very welcomed by all the shopkeepers and restaurant staff. At night, just as all the guide books say (I guess they DO know some things…) Venice is very quiet and more of the locals come out – we had yet to experience all the daytrippers but were curious to see how different the experience was.
Not to make Venice sound ‘old hat’ but we literally could write “we loved all the canals and bridges” to describe all three days spent there and it would be the absolute truth! To spare you the repetition we wanted to point out some of our more enjoyable and distinctive memories…First one will be mine and it is how eerie Venice can be at night, not in a super scary way, but there is just something creepy about the still water in all the canals, the empty streets, and palely lit bridges. This sense of eeriness is compounded when you see the water rising up making some of the sidewalks impassable. San Marco square, for instance, was completely flooded our first night there! This “acqua alta” phenomenon is very common in Venice and, although we had read about it, it’s very different seeing it in person.
Adam really enjoyed our day trip to the island of Murano where the famous glassblowers still carry on their trade from hundreds of years ago. Apparently back in the day it was considered treason for a glassblower to leave the island – the secrets of the craft were so guarded. We witnessed a couple of glasses being made through the cracks of one shop but, since it was a Saturday, most of the furnace’s were closed. Adam was pretty obsessed with all of the different types of
glass and was very proud of himself that he resisted the many urges he had to buy everything in sight. “At least we’re only buying stuff that travels easily” was his constant refrain. He finally settled on a set of glasses when he was certain that there were no others like it at any of the other shops (we’ve been looking else where since then and we STILL have not come across the same type!). We hope that these glasses will be a nice reminder of the day we had on Murano for many years to come.
Our last night in Venice was probably the most memorable one we’ve had the entire trip. We reached out to a young Venetian lady on couchsurfing.com to see if she would like to get drinks. Well, after a rainy start on top of the Rialto Bridge, she took us to two fabulous places that were devoid of tourists (yay!). She introduced us to a typical Venetian aperatif “Spritz” (prosecco, fizzy water, aperol, orange slice) and we got to try out cicheti (free food with purchase of a drink). She then invited us out to dinner with her and a friend who was traveling in from Milan (he had never been to Venice and called to ask her “where do I put my car?” — answer: not in Venice). We went to a typical Milanese style restaurant – kind of loungeish – and proceeded to have one of the best meals ever. No exaggeration. We stayed at the restaurant enjoying wine, salmon tartare and tuna appetizers, delicious lamb, spicy seafood pasta, and finally tiramisu until 1:00 AM! We were there so late, in fact, that coffee was no longer being served. Yikes! It is funny that the entire time leading up to the trip we assumed Italians were very late eaters but had yet to do so in Italy. A very great time was had!
Venice is a gorgeous and mysterious city – it is a wonder, especially when you think of all the people who live there 365 days a year – no roads, only water canals and boats. Every time we stepped out of our door it seemed like the purpose was to find beautiful scenes to catch and yet, the majority of the time was spent simply observing and letting it all soak in. It can be hard to resist the urge to pull out your camera every time you see something beautiful but, I think, to rely on memory is more in line with the general aura of Venice – it’s a city built on sticks for goodness sakes, how much more fleeting can a memory be?