Our final leg of Italy is Venice, where we arrived this morning by train. Exiting the station, we were taken aback by the fact that it’s literally water everywhere. Obviously, we knew this coming into the city, but it is kind of a shock that a place like this really exists. If Italy was a family, Rome would be the strong patriarch, Florence the tender mother and Venice the crazy uncle you have to see to believe. I have been amazed by the personality each city possesses because they are all so different…and we haven’t even left Italy yet.
Our first encounter with the water consisted of a boat taxi ride. It makes sense because there are no roads, hence no cars, yet there’s still something so novel about boat traffic. Hearing the cabbies yell at each other in Italian was also quite amusing, since everywhere else they just honk their horns for communication. We docked and proceeded to our apartment….which is arguably the most adventurous thing we’ve done this whole trip.
I would first like to say that I am a huge fan of Airbnb, the company we used to book this place, and would recommend the sight to anyone in a heartbeat. That being said, we knew what we were getting into: if you close your eyes and picture an Italian motel, this is what you might see. There are gaudy fixtures everywhere, random large wooden and ornately carved furniture pieces, an old fireplace, and a glass chandelier. The door is also rickety, the windows don’t really shut properly and our tv doesn’t work at all. On the bright side, the price was great, the location is good and the wifi is the best we’ve had all trip. We’re also only staying for two nights, which is a relief and enough to get us through our time in Venice.
After dropping our bags at the apartment, Jordan, Alex and I walked to St. Mark’s Square, iconic for its Renaissance beauty and architecture. Perhaps its most exquisite building is St. Mark’s Church with its ornate Byzantine design. Inside, mosaics made of gold mixed with stunning marble designs were awe inspiring, and we even paid extra to see the famed “gold wall”, which was exactly what it sounds like, only with more jewels and figurines. There were hoards of tourists within the area, but we managed to have a pleasant stroll around the shops, browsing for glass and masks. And then the rain began…..
It had been fairly cloudy all morning, but without thinking, the three of us just left our apartment sans raingear. We’ve had such wonderful weather so far that, even in this downpour, we thought surely it would pass quickly enough. Ducking into an alcove, Alex turned on her much-coveted data to discover that the rain was not going to stop until tomorrow morning. With this disheartening news, we decided to wait it out until the rain lightened up a bit, and then we would return to the apartment for reinforcements.
Half an hour later, the three of us trudged back through a very puddled Venice, grabbed our umbrellas and rain jackets, and re-entered the fray. A city that is surrounded by water certainly does retain it well, as our shoes were sopping wet from the rainy streets. But, the show must go on, so we continued to browse around the town, even sitting in a piazza and having dinner outside once the weather started to clear up briefly.
The funny thing is, Venice is really just another “water town”. People are very laid-back and friendly, and there’s no real emphasis on organization. As Alex put it so eloquently when we first arrived, “Venice is stressing me out,” because of the nonsense it represents. It is almost impossible to navigate due to the random, winding paths, and the simple fact that the city floats along with its water streets is just bonkers. But, that’s what makes Venice so special. Its uniqueness and unpretentiousness. I am very excited to explore more of the city tomorrow, as well as the Doge’s Palace and other quintessential Venetian experiences!