“This is like, Disney World for adults…”
Venice was amazing. A picturesque city built on a lagoon, with surprises and curious things over every bridge. We spent one night here and I wish we would have stayed for another. Venice though, is really almost unreal. There is a Palace, the Duke’s no less; there are beautiful churches galore, one so beautiful George Clooney got married in it while we were visiting. There are narrow cobblestone streets and strip-shirted gondoliers. Venice was almost exactly like I had imagined it in my mind’s eye- it was fantasy.
Our hostel check-in wasn’t until 3pm, so we had all afternoon to wander the streets and familiarize ourselves with the layout of this tiny lagoon-city. Bridges everywhere, each one offering a pretty canal view and each one packed with tourists. If there is a down side to Venice, it’s that everyone else in the world knows where it is and plans on visiting. We did find that wandering semi map-less made for a lot more fun than trying to find our way to a specific location. Venice is a place you can just wander, too. Each street housed at least one café serving pipping hot espresso and fresh croissants. Also found on every corner: gelato. Take a few turns and you end up in a small piazza with a beautiful church looming around the tiny cafés. Sometimes, you even find interesting museums lurking above the canals.
We visited Gallerie dell’Accademia which houses pre-19th century alter pieces and other works taken from churches, monasteries, and cathedrals. Some notable pieces are da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, several alter pieces by Giovanni Bellini (San Giobbe alter), and some beautiful triptychs by Hieronymus Bosch. It was also a good place to drop our bags for an hour.
We stayed at a small dorm hostel in the Cannaregio neighborhood that was home to a Catholic University. The door to our dorm was steps from a canal and the bathroom window even opened up onto the water. After settling in for a bit, we decided to take in some very interesting, and free, people watching. We sat down for a small dinner accompanied by some of the best ” Vino bianco” I had for the entire trip. At an amazing €.90 per glass, I should have drank more! I think we had some of our most precious time on this trip just sitting at cafés and watching the people. A lovely stroll through the streets cemented the “Disney” feel to me, it was just too perfect, almost like Venice was just a high-end mirage waiting to take all your money if you let it. On our way back through the city we ended up at a small home-y pub down the street from our room and had ourselves a good relaxing (albeit loud) night in Venice.
Doge’s Palace was high on our list of places to be sure and visit while in Venice as well. The former seat of government was there as well as the Duke’s chambers, prisons and Institutional chambers. It was fascinating to see the elegance and stateliness of the upper parts of the Palace mingled with the small winding corridors of the dank prisons. Art, architecture and law made this trip well worth the time, as well as the amazing views of the lagoons from the palace windows.
Venice has more sights than we allowed time for, but we did manage to take in St. Mark’s Square, Santa Lucia, the Museum of San Marco Piazza, Museo Correr, and we explored many quiet streets and crowded piazzas. The city is really an amazing place to just get lost. Seriously. Forget looking at a map or trying to follow street signs. Wander the streets and get lost in the history. Even the seemingly trivial cobblestones under your feet will have a story to tell, of Venetians of centuries past, of Italy’s immense catalogue of memories. Someday I will make it back to Venice, hopefully before the lagoon takes it back.