Two days in Venice
Arriving in Venice is a thrilling experience, because you have to come to the city by boat. In our case, it was two boats for the people and another boat (or maybe two?) for our luggage.
The Veneto region is quite different from where we spent the past four days (Tuscany), and we had to go through the mountains to get here. While we were on the bus we watched a documentary on the history of Venice, which I found very interesting. There are not many cities in the world with the kind of physical and political history as Venice.
We arrived at our hotel in the early afternoon. The Dei Dogi hotel is surprisingly large and elegant, with a huge garden that goes all the way back to the open water. We had a drink and some snacks, got settled into our rooms, and then went for a walk as a group to the famous Rialto Bridge.
Venice is not a huge place – perhaps the size of New York’s Central Park – but it can seem overwhelming at first because there are so many bridges and canals and tiny alleyways. But that’s what makes Venice unique.
After our walk we rambled in small groups, splitting apart and reconnecting here and there for shopping or gelato or drinks. My small group stopped at a bar and I had a beer. Later we ate dinner in a sidewalk café overlooking a picturesque canal.
The next morning we boarded water taxis at the hotel that took us via the Grand Canal (a thrilling ride) to St. Mark’s Square. It was a beautiful warm, sunny day and there were a LOT of tourists with the same idea we did.
St. Mark’s was extremely crowded. And actually it was disappointing because several buildings were undergoing repairs, so there were construction materials covering a few of the facades and foundations. That, plus more freestanding souvenir stands than I remember being there 10 years ago and twice as many people really took away the magic of the place.
But no matter. We did a wonderful walking tour all over the main part of the city, ending back at St. Mark’s. Then we saw a quick glass-blowing demonstration and looked in the showroom at a lot of pretty glass that would not look good in my house.
In spite of the crowds and lines everywhere, a few of us decided to go up to the top of St. Mark’s bell tower. In all of my travels, my experience going up to the top of the tower 10 years ago was one of my very favorites. That time, I went up in the early evening just as the city was drenched in golden light. And while I was up there, looking at what may be the most incredible view in the world, the bells began to ring. It was amazing. I laughed and cried. My experience today might not have been so emotional, and we were up there in the bright light of mid-day, but the view was no less fantastic. I was not disappointed. It might be the best 8 euros I spent the whole time I’ve been in Italy.
The rest of the day was spent walking and eating and looking into shops and walking and drinking the occasional beer. Mostly I took pictures and enjoyed this amazing city.
I can’t believe this is my last night in Italy!