Venice in View
We arrived in Venice midmorning, having absolutely no idea what I was doing. I knew that Venice used water taxis because the city is essentially flooded. What I did not realize was that they ONLY use water taxis or water buses. I also did not know that the city of Venice is made up of one hundred different islands. I had no idea. Despite years of wanting to go there, I was completely lost. I pre-bought water bus tickets to take us from the airport to the island where our hotel was located (Lido), but only because I heard that taking a car taxi as far as you could and then a water taxi was over $120. YIKES. So we booked water bus tickets, which were $15. Somehow, I managed to book a hotel room right across the street from the water bus stop. Lucky me! This seems to never happen. Typically, we find ourselves wandering for over a mile pushing luggage to locate our accommodations.
That first night in Venice yielded a sunset that must have surely caused world peace. I’m certain that everyone has experienced those majestic moments when nothing can possibly be wrong in the world. Talk about a welcoming. The sunset felt like a wonderful omen for the busy day to come. The children and I like to slow travel. It is so much easier on us all to have at least a week in a location so we do not feel rushed everywhere. This was not that destination, as I could not afford to stay very long. We had a very fast, tourism filled 48 hours and it was wonderful.
Views from a Time Capsule
We set out early in the hopes of seeing as much of the city as possible before we couldn’t go anymore. Wandering the eerie alleys and canals could be a full week of fun, but we opted for a Gondola ride for my oldest’s birthday. It was the only thing he asked for so we made it happen. I will say that the days leading up to the Gondola ride I was very skeptical. You take a waterbus everywhere. Therefore, why would I want to pay a small fortune for a short boat ride on a boat of a different color. The answer is quite simple, that’s what my child desperately wanted for his birthday. Therefore, mommy made it happen. I was skeptical up until we took off on the gondola. It was awe inspiring. For the first time in days, we were alone. We found ourselves gliding along a quiet canal and we could have been the only people in the city at that moment.
Things to do
If you are a tourist that does better with an agenda then Venice is loaded with things to do and see. Of course, there is the Basilica of San Marco. A very busy place and buying tickets in advance is a good idea. There is the Guggenheim collection and endless churches and tours. We really enjoyed the Da Vinci Exhibition on San Croce island, which is a chain exhibition. Therefore, there is a Da Vinci exhibition in Venice, Florence, and Milan. All the Italian locations that Leonardo once called home. It is a hands-on science exhibition of models of all of Leonardo Da Vinci’s machine sketches. The models were made from the plans Da Vinci drew in his notebook.
If we had had more time we would have gone to the islands of Murano and Burano to watch the glassmakers and the Venetian lace makers. We will be back at some point and we will focus our attention far away from San Marcos and make a point to see the cultural history of glass and lace that is quickly dying. The lace makers will be gone within our lifetime. Go.
Venice as a whole is quickly sinking, but the government has stepped up and has designed a series of gates to help prevent excess flooding during the rainy winters. They are working on building these huge creations and hopefully will be able to prolong the inevitable for another millennium.
Variables in a Venetian Life
Today, Venice is 90% tourists. Only about 11,000 Venetians (born, raised and living) are still located in Venice. The other 230 thousand people that claim Venice as home are foreign transplants. The city is stunning, but the daily life for an average person must be quite difficult. The cost of living is astronomical. Access to supermarkets and stores of sustenance are hard to come by. The livelihood of Venice is entirely dependent upon tourism and therefore, so are most of the jobs for locals.
I typically steer people away from the heavy tourism activities, but Venice is definitely an exception. You need to see it, you need to walk the alleys and ride the boats. Search high and low for a local and ask them questions, the Venetians are an incredibly hospitable people. Go see the lace makers and glassmakers so that someday, all too soon when they are gone and the art is dead you can say you saw Venice in its original glory.