Venice – Italy
When I think of cliches I quickly think about Venice. A picture perfect town, one of the most romantic ideas of Europe. Two years ago I decided to visit the town together with my mother. A ‘romantic’ getaway to the city build on water. The city that is sinking. The city that quickly got a special little place in my heart.
My mother and I arrived somewhere in the afternoon. From out the airport we could already see the maze of canals and the lake surrounding the small Italian island that together make Venice. A beautiful sight, even before touching the ground. With a watertaxi we head over to the main island of Venice. Something I learned right there: I used to think Venice existed out of one island. Perhaps doing some research before leaving was at place. We are getting closer to the island. From of the boat I can see the small bridges that connect one street to another. I see high, white, somewhat crooked buildings that define the island. I also see a huge mass of tourists, even though it’s early spring.
With our suitcases in our hands we are trying to get closer to our hotel. We already notice this isn’t an easy town: it isn’t easy to lift a heavy suitcase (yes, even for a three day visit) over the bridges over and over again. It isn’t easy to do all this while avoid bumping into the mass of tourists and it isn’t easy to find a hotel in a city where the streets just don’t make any sense. After conquering the many bridges we’d already crossed we find our hotel. A small, cute building that is located at the corner of two canals. We walk up to the hotel’s front door that we found after a couple of pillars that hold up the building. An American staff member, who moved to Italy in his younger years, shows us the way to our hotel room. Another couple of more stairs.
Our hotelroom is small, but it was everything I wanted from a hotel in Venice. As soon as we walk in to our room I can see the curtains moving from the wind. From outside I can hear the water of the canals splash up the buildings. We have a hotelroom that looks over the canals. Bliss. Instantly I crown this hotel as one of the best hotels I’ve ever slept in. At that point I didn’t even know yet that we would fall asleep every night listening to the sounds of singing, Italian men with accordeons who accompany a couple in a gondola. Bliss.
Quickly after our arrival we decided to head back into Venice to explore. We walked around the island. We both had no specific ideas of what we wanted to do: we just wanted to see the island. During our walk we discovered Venice in fact had a lot of bridges. I used to think Venice had a couple of canals (like Amsterdam), but now I noticed you couldn’t even walk a 100 meters without crossing a bridge. I stood still to stare at every bridge. I looked over the streets and into streets you couldn’t reach without a boat. While every bridge and view resembled they all were beautiful. This is so unique. So magnificent.
Quickly we learn that Venice is a hard city to understand, and everything but easy to walk. Over and over again we get lost in the narrow, long streets of the island. Our map brings us back to the streets we know, but as soon as we walk into another street we get lost again. I think it’s kinda nice. As soon as you get away from the touristic areas of the island you get to see the real Venice. A quiet, sweet city – Italian in heart and soul. This is where I learn you can discover Venice best while wandering around.. away from the tourists.
At the second day of our visit me and my mother start working on a list of seeing the touristic highlights of Venice. We climb the Campanile and see Venice from above, we walk over the Rialtobrug, and visit the Basilique of San Marco, the palace and the prison. We also walk towards Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo. At the end of the day we eat risotto in a restaurant somewhere next to a canal. We were sat down at a table for two persons on a balcony, a small piece of ground that was build above the canal. While I discover my love for risotto (still my favorite dish) we smile to passing tourists in gondolas. ‘Gosh, I would love to do that”, I said to my mother.
A small half an hour later me and my mother walk besides a canal where we see a man standing besides his gondola. We look at each other but already walk towards the gondola. We take place in the small, wobbly boat. The Italian behind us confidently steps on the back of the gondola. We float away, through the small, narrow canals. Canals you can’t reach or see from of the streets. Over the canals I see lines with laundry hanging. In the water I see ‘garages’ where locals park their boats. It is quiet. The only sound we hear is the sound of the oar pushing into the water. This is Venice at her best. Bliss. We spend on hour on the water, after which we arrive back at the dock. Safe and sound on the ground.
The weather changes, the sun shines low above the horizon. High buildings block the sun that tries to lighten up the small streets of Venice. It is getting night. The afmosphere changes. Smalll citylights lighten up the streets and restaurants are preparing for diner. We walk towards the San Marco square, one of the most famous squares of Venice which also happens to be juist two canals away from our hotel. Streetartists play beautiful melodies. While we drink our drinks we enjoy the sight. This was going to be our last night in Venice. Tomorrow we would leave to the surrounding islands to see more of Venice. But for now, I close my eyes and savor.