Ladies, if Venice isn’t on your bucket list, add it! Originally, I had planned to go with a guy I was seeing, an early 61st birthday present to myself. Yeah . . . well you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men . . . and women? But every great plan needs a good backup. Mine was girlfriend and fellow flight attendant Kathleen. So when I got dumped, she stepped in. And a romantic trip turned into a fabulous girls’ getaway. This is a city of captivating beauty. No matter the weather–early morning fog, afternoon sun or evening rain showers–in every condition Venice enthralls. A city of inky waters, emerald canals and stormy seas . . .
With every corner turned, alley traversed or bridge crossed a picture postcard is revealed . . .
I was told Venice has 400 bridges. I’m pretty sure we crossed at least a quarter of them.
If there is any drawback to this city, it is the crowds. That is the problem with a magical place–everyone wants to experience it. A reported 24 million tourists a year tramp through this small ancient city. In 2017 alone, 529 cruise ships, towering monstrosities 10 or more decks high, will sail through the Giudecca Canal, a mere 1000 feet from St Mark’s. The environmentalist have been protesting them for years. But those 1.4 million passengers are a source of significant income to Venice. A double -edged sword . . . During peak season (late spring, early summer and late fall as far as the weather goes) streets are packed, lines are long and prices elevated. As one who abhors crowds, I convinced Kathleen to do an early EARLY morning. At 5:30 am we wandered St. Mark’s, the only living souls–save a few insomniac pigeons. Heaven! To be followed by a walk down the main promenade, equally deserted. We toasted our dawn adventure with cappuccinos and marmalade croissants hot out of the oven.
The weather did not cooperate. In case you can’t tell from my hair, we had rain nearly every day. (BTW, Venetian red is definitely a color unto itself!)
Look to the far right in the photo below and you’ll see a couple kids in plastic ponchos. Trust me. They were everywhere! Sherbet-colored trash bags with matching knee high galoshes for sale for 6-8 Euros. I wish I’d taken a picture! One Japanese tour group of twenty plus was identically clad in orange . . . a hell of a sight. Each afternoon St Mark’s Square flooded. I’m not certain if it was due to rain or high tide. But since our hotel was 50 meters from where I was standing in the photo above, bare-foot through ankle deep water was the only way to go . . .
The food, however, did not disappoint. In 3 days I ate pizza 4 times! But in my defense we DID walk 8-9 miles a day . . .
Chianti was the beverage of choice–until Kathleen introduced me to peach bellinis.
Speaking of, I highly recommend indulging some night around 8 or 9 pm. Wander over to St Mark’s. They have several areas of tables and chairs set up where groups of musicians alternate playing. I promise you’ll hear every Godfather and Andrea Bocelli song ever recorded. The €21 bellini are pricey, but the service is flawless with white-jacketed waiters attending to every whim. And how do you put a price on ambiance?
I would also recommend leaving the more popular and well-known places. I encourage you to get a map (laminated, in case it rains, plus it serves as a handy barrier between your ass and wet chairs). Wander where the locals go, deeper within the warrens of winding alleys. Cross the Rialto and/or the Ponte dell’ Accademia. Not only will you find less tourists, but with each calle, ponte and campo, you’re sure to find a hidden gem for your camera and a better price for your wallet. (The same Murano glass wine stoppers going for 12-15€ each were found 3 for 10€.) BTW, Campo Santo Stefano (pictured below) is where I found this little cutie . . .
Speaking of cuties . . . meet Ricardo, Elton, Sergio and Franco (ages 21-49). And Charlie.
This was not the Venice cesspool I remember from my childhood and from college. Not one piece of garbage did I see floating in a single canal. The city is amazingly clean, considering those millions of tourists. Without a doubt, I will be back.
And here’s to hope, falling in love and bucket lists . . . ’cause Kathleen and I agreed . . .
Yep. We’re saving the gondola ride for when it’s NOT a girls’ getaway . . .