Believe the hype. Venice really IS one of the most beautiful, romantic, and tragic cities in the world. Tragic because it is slowly crumbling and will most likely be submerged for good one of these days. I just hope that fate is still centuries away.
Yes, the canals are dirty. Yes, the buildings and streets frequently flood (with nasty sewagey canal water, ugh!) And, yes, many of the once-colorful and ornate stucco facades have long since crumbled to expose algae-covered brick walls. It doesn’t matter. Even covered with slime and stinking and sinking into the sea, the canal-front doorsteps of Venice are an invitation to my soul. I could sit and stare dreaming at them for days.
Don’t get me wrong – there is still LOTS of amazingly gorgeous architecture that hasn’t fallen apart. Moorish arched windows,sculpted stone ornaments, statues in squares and on top of churches. Richly colored buildings with tiny balconies. And of course, hundreds of charming bridges crossing the endless canals that take the place of streets. And there are NO cars – how could there be? There are no solid streets! Only sidewalks along man-made canals and tiny alleyways.
Perhaps I shouldn’t say the canals are man-made. They are the watery negative spaces left between when the builders of the city drove pilings into the marshy islands and built Venice on top of them. Venice was built among the canals. And if ocean levels rise a few more inches, the canals will swallow Venice up. So go see it now, while you still can!
It is true what they say. Venice is full - absolutely crawling - with tourists. This does detract from its charm. But luckily, they tend to get in, visit the most famous monuments, and get out, leaving most of the city to itself.
We didn’t ride in a gondola. This is a REALLY expensive ride. But there are voluptuous gondolas everywhere, as well as dozens of other Venice-particular types of boat. It would have been nice to see the city from sea-level, but it doesn’t have to be from a gondola. You could just make friends with a couchsurfer who has a row-boat…
Once again, we accidentally found Martinz-from-Latvia. I think this was the 4th city where we saw him! Wandering the sidewalks of Murano, peeking into the amazing glass studios, we ran right into him! Later in San Marcos Square, he befriended this pigeon, who stayed on his shoulder for several blocks. We all made friends with the pigeons for a little while…
Friday night, around sundown, we figured out we were in the original European ghetto. We had stumbled across a Shabbat dinner that was being celebrated alongside the canal across from a kosher restaurant. They seemed to be having fun.
The coat-of-arms of Venice is a winged lion holding an engraved tablet. This insignia is EVERYWERE. Sculpted in bas relief, or as statues, painted or glazed in tile. Many of them are so eroded as to be barely recognizable. But come on, if you see a sort-of lion with stubs of wings, what else could it be?
This is definitely one city I can’t wait to visit again. We only gave ourselves 3 days here – a shame!! Maybe next time I will get to see inside one of these gorgeous ancient houses.