Venice marked the middle of our seven-leg trip. It also felt like a shift in gears. Where the first three legs were loaded with activities and 15 hour days, this was the beginning of some blank space in our schedule. In fact, on our pre-trip itinerary, two of the four days here said, “Get Lost in Venice.” This was perfect timing, as we were very ready to ease off the gas for a few days.
I have to admit, I wasn’t sure if I would like Venice. I’d heard so many conflicting things about it, and because we didn’t have specific plans every day, I didn’t really know what to expect. But I’m learning that everyone’s tastes are different, and sometimes not knowing what to expect brings the best surprises. There is lots to love and lots to learn everywhere, if you go in looking for it. Here are 5 things that I loved and learned about Venice:
1. When you leave St. Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge, the city is remarkably peaceful. Our first day was spent outside of the crazy tourist areas, and I was blown away by how quiet and deserted the city felt. There were times when we had entire streets to ourselves. We just meandered, took pictures and relaxed.
2. We took the “Secret Itineraries” tour of the Doge’s Palace, and, for me, it was one of the most educational parts of our whole trip. I learned an incredible amount about Venice in one hour, which I believe will really stick with me thanks to the power of good field trips. Traveling really is a phenomenal education.
3. Venice feels like it’s on its way to being deserted ruins. Maybe because it’s sinking. Maybe because the population is one third of what it was a couple of decades ago. Maybe because it seems to be mostly tourists there. Whatever it is, I couldn’t help but think that this was a remarkably unique city that is literally buoyed up by wooden platforms and figuratively buoyed up by tourism, and it simply doesn’t feel like it will last forever. I wonder if a century from now people will stand in line to buy tickets to visit this otherwise abandoned city that was once a vibrant and significant center.
4. Glass making is SUPER COOL! We weren’t allowed to take pictures at the demonstration, so you will have to just imagine how awesome it was to watch this very skilled man make a horse out of a blob of nothing in just a few minutes. Mesmerizing. If you visit Venice, the ferry ride to Murano to check this out, along with the cute and colorful houses of Burano, is worth it.