Venice, Italy

This past week I was lucky enough to have a chance to spend a day in Venice, a city that I have been wanting to see but never really wanted to commit my hard-earned travel dollars to. Lucky for me, Lorenzo’s dad had a little bit of work to do in Venice so he offered to take me and Lorenzo along for a day trip.

I have heard that Venice is the kind of city that you don’t need more than a day or two to explore but it’s also a must-see. I went to Venice with no expectations and no plans. At first, this scared me, but then as I walked the streets I saw exactly what I came for.

I went to Venice mostly to see what all the hype was about. There had to be a reason this city was so famous, a reason that it was a major destination on the ‘tour of Italy’ so many travelers take.

First of all, it was freaking HOT! It’s the middle of summer in Italy and right around that time that North Africa gives us the gift of their ‘summer breezes’ (read: the hottest, most humidly still days you can imagine). I looked around at all the sweaty tourists and felt sorry for them. Hasn’t anyone ever told them not to plan their Italy trips in the middle of the summer? Clearly not because I hear they come back every year, like clockwork.

Anyway, once we moved through the sticky crowd we made our first stop at Piazza San Marco. I looked at the beautiful architecture and admired the tourist taking photos with pigeons on their heads; then I looked around one more time and signaled our exit to Lorenzo. No offense Italy but your are full of churches, what else can you give me?

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love the water. My whole persona changes when I see those blue waves or hear that trickling as a stream passes through. Therefore, it was pretty darn cool to see a city where the citizens step out their front doors and into their boats. Where people get their boating license before they get their driver’s license. Venice holds true with it’s old tattered buildings and it’s ancient Italian looks, but the canals are the real feature that make this city timeless.

I have heard (mostly from Italians) that Venice is no longer thriving as a city, it is simply a tourist attraction. It’s kind of a sad story really, as I watch the same old Italian ladies walking home from the grocery store carefully weaving in and out of the group of tourists wielding sun-brellas and cameras. Who are we to come in and overrun their city for our photo albums pleasure? I love the idea of the old-style gondolas and getting the romantic experience of gliding through the city, but does anyone stop to think about if that’s really how it was done?

I enjoyed what Venice had to offer, I could spend another day there but in the end I came away with some really nice pictures (if I may say so myself) and another city checked off the list. Usually, this isn’t how I would choose to travel; don’t get me wrong I enjoy checking cities off but I don’t go to them just for that satisfaction. Venice however, beautiful canals and all will be remembered by me for the photos and always for the tourist culture.

I would be interested to hear what others have thought of Venice, or if you haven’t been there, what are your perceptions?