July 25, 2012
Venice. If someone asked me to sum up Venice is just a single word, it would be indescribable. There is zero place on earth that is comparable. Since being home, I have heard people say that you either love Venice or you can’t stand Venice. Obviously, I am a true admirer. Admirers like me see only its dream-like qualities: quaint shops, old world alleys, gondola serenades, enchanting canals…haters see the unintelligible layout, humidity, over-crowding, expensive shops, too many pigeons, and smelly canals. From my perspective, the ‘floating city’ of Venice made a most indelible impression. It’s one of those cities that you must see with your own eyes to believe. In fact, I decided I didn’t just see Venice; I felt it. Venice isn’t a city to be looked at – it is one to be experienced through all of one’s senses. If we had more time, I would have just sat and watched.
The architecture is so brilliant – purest white dripping in arches and buildings of gold and silver. Yeah, in places the plaster is peeling and the high water marks are visible on the pastel exteriors of many of the houses along the canals. But if you focus on this rather than the magnificence before you, you have missed the point of visiting Venice altogether. Have you ever shopped streets where there are no cars and the windows are dressed with cardinals’ robes and feathery carnival masks? Or in a fish market that has been operating for hundreds of years in the same way and same location?
One tip I will tell you is to just ditch the map all together – it is completely and utterly useless. You will not be able to follow it because there are no names for the alleys. It is inevitable, you will get lost and it will be ok. Use your instincts and embrace it. There are signs on some of the buildings that lead you to the Rialto and to San Marco. Let those be your guide and otherwise, go down those narrow streets when you have no idea where you are, they were so quiet and incredible to see.
View from the Rialto. This is the Grand Canal at it’s widest point.
Piazza San Marco.
Campanile (the bell tower)
This is the Bridge of Sighs. It was designed by Antonio Contino and was built at the beginning of the 17th century. The bridge was intended to connect the Old Prison and interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace to the New Prison, which was situated directly across the river. There are a few theories as to how the bridge got its name. The first one involves the prisoners that walked across the bridge on their way to the executioner. The prisoners would “sigh” as they crossed the bridge, probably catching their last glimpse of the outside world. Even though by the time the bridge was built executions had ceased, many prisoners probably did cross the bridge and may have not seen freedom again. Another story says that if a couple kisses under the bridge while drifting below on a gondola at sunset, they will enjoy eternal love. Thus, the “sighs” are said to come from lovers who are overwhelmed by the romance of the whole scene. This romantic view was created by the Poet Lord Byron with his writings: “I stood in Venice on the Bridge of Sighs, a palace and prison on each hand”. Interesting, huh?
Venice is totally meant to be viewed from the water. You just can’t go to Venice and not take a gondola ride. It is classic and you can’t miss the relaxing trip down some of these charming canals.
How these gondoliers duck down enough to get under these small bridges while still steering and rowing the gondola beats me. They literally have to be contortionists.
He sang to us!!
I very much so hope to return to this city one day. It was truly an amazing place.
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I’m based in Maryland, DC and Northern VA but don’t worry, I LOVE to travel.
I love me a new passport stamp.