Hey mambo! mambo Italiano! Venezia

It was love at first sight! There is no place on earth quite like Venice, Italy. I was in awe with this unique city that rises from the water and its hypnotic charm. It took a tremendous feat of engineering to create such a city… unfortunately given time nature will someday reclaim this “living museum” of gondolas, bridges, ornate churches and palaces. This city proudly stands as a memorial to the Venetian’s victories over people and the sea – but the sea is fighting back and Venice is sinking. So go and visit while you can!

Venice was built on 120 small islands which are now linked by over 400 bridges. It doesn’t have the typical city noises or smells. Its roads are canals and its land is for pedestrians. Everywhere the sound of the water imposes a soft slow rhythm to tempt the tourist to linger and ponder on the contrived beauty surrounding you. The water, however, is the only natural feature of Venice. There are no parks, gardens and few flowers or trees. There are two modes of transportation in Venice – walking and floating. The city is relatively small, so traveling by foot is not a problem. However, it’s easy to get lost. If and when this happens to you, just keep walking and enjoy the experience… you’ll get to see more of what real life is like in Venice that way!

The first sight that greets you as you emerge from the train station is an amazing contrast to typical station surroundings. Outside the station is the Grand Canal and directly opposite is one of the many picturesque churches. This view sets the mood of the day and the ride on the waterbuses can be quite relaxing (minus the locals that don’t wear deodorant.) The cheapest and easiest method of transport in Venice is the waterbus; and on a trip around the Grand Canal you see expensive boats sitting alongside traditional gondolas, countless palaces, some immaculate and some crumbling, dating from the 12th to 18th centuries all with their elaborate doors opening directly onto the Canal.

Before I knew it the sun has set and it was getting late. I finally checked into hotel Dolimiti, a cozy little spot that sits in an alleyway near the train station. It was very compact but comforting. Allà Lancé is a pizzeria nearby and apparently the only restaurant in this part of town that stays open until midnight. I walked in as they were closing up and asked for a slice of the Margherita (cheese) Pizza….if you are used to eating something for a large portion of your life and that is what you are expecting to bite into and it is not what you expect, it can be a bit of a shocker….there was no sauce, it was cheese on bread so I looked like an idiot when I went back and asked for some sauce and tomatoes on the side. Be sure to read the fine print or ask someone at the restaurant what it is before you order it.

 I rose early the next morning and wandered the back streets of Venice to watch the city awake. The silence was occasionally broken by church bells as I discover hidden gems off the beaten track. It was Pure Magic! No trip to Venice is truly complete without a visit to the tiny and beautiful lagoon islands. Venice sits on a kind of archipelago, made up of many small islets, jutting into what’s known as the Venetian lagoon. The city of Venice is the largest settlement, but there are nearby islands, such as Murano, Burano, San Michele and Torcello, which are well worth experiencing.

 

For centuries, Murano has been the home of the world’s best in stunning glassware. I watched in wonderment as a father and son duo that live on the island displayed their glass making talents. The father took a blob of glass and in less than 2 minutes turned it into a horse that was standing on it’s hind legs. It was amazing! Burano is famous for its colorfully painted houses. They also have several delicious gelatos that I savored, not really specific to the island, but good to have while walking around. San Michele is the final resting place of many famous names, and Torcello offers a once-in-a-lifetime look into the city’s past. Each island can be reached by waterbus, or vaporetto, and is just a short ride from Venice.

 

As the day came to an end I headed back to the hotel, packed up my bag, wished farewell to Venezia and headed to the train station to ride the sleeper train to Paris.

 

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