Having been to Venice 30 years ago I wondered whether it would have the same impact as it did back then. It did! Just the fact that it is so different, the water, the canals, sets it aside. There is also a lot of talk about how Venice is dirty and smells. Also not true, in so much as it is no different to any other city in that respect. Of course there are parts that need a bit of attention, but in a city built on a lagoon with little or no dry land sometimes there are no choices.
We arrived by train at Venezia Santa Lucia station, walk out and it doesn’t take long to get to the first canal. For us it was a matter of just wandering, we did not follow maps, deciding just to get lost and figure out where we were later. We followed the canals, over bridges, through narrow alley ways, just enjoying the uniqueness of it all. There are no roads here, all of the daily transport is by boats of all shapes and sizes. Of course for the tourists there are the Gondolas, and lots of them, ready to ferry you down the waterways – for a price – they are not cheap.
We eventually decided we should look for some landmarks. The major drawcard was St Marks Square and St Marks Basilica. A huge Piazza with the Basilica at one end, standing magnificently with its beautiful mosaics set in golden backgrounds, sculputures, and cupolas. Close by is the campanile of St Marks, a tower 99 meters tall crowned by a spire. Made of a solid brick framework it is the cities tallest building and offers superb views on a clear day. To the right of the Basilica is Torre dell’Orologio, a clock tower built between 1496 and 1506. Doge’s Palace, once the Venetian political and judicial hub is also in the square.
With very tired feet we stopped for coffee at a small cafe. Whilst it may have been the most expensive coffee in Italy, it was well worth the expense to sit down and soak up the atmosphere and enjoy some wonderful Venetian hospitality. Off to the Rialto Bridge, the oldest bridge that crosses the grand canal, unfortunately under renovation, but able to be walked across just none of those iconic photos. Meandering back to the train station we took the opportunity to look in some of the many mask shops. Typically worn during the Carnival of Venice, these masks have such ornate designs, lots of complex glittery decorations, pity they were too delicate for the suitcase.
Of course there is so much more to see and experience, but we were grateful to be able to spend the time we did in our short visit to Venice.