Big Trip 2010: Venice

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Venice, our first Italian city and our first taste of real pizza! We enjoyed Venice, though it hasn’t been our favorite stop on the trip. From a distance, floating down the Grand Canal, the city is gooorgeous. But up close, it’s generally kind of dirty and seems to be in disrepair. Everyone says Venice is sinking, so maybe they’ve just given up? On the flip side, it wasn’t a crowded city (save for Piazza San Marco), you could easily stroll quiet side streets all day, and there is no loss for cafes on secluded piazzas. It was here that I started my two gelato a day habit which has quickly been nipped in the bud. I think all of the food is going straight to my ankles—if you don’t recognize me when we get back, I’ll be the fat girl with chocolate on her chin.

The weather was gorgeous in Venice—walking along the canal and the river was amazing. It was pretty hot during the day but as soon as the sun went down, the whole city went still. It was perfectly still, the water taxis dissipate, and the air is cool. We sat at a restaurant on the canal for hours, slowly eating pizza and drinking wine. (One thing to get used to is that Italians take their time eating dinner, as such the waiters take their time serving you…)

All of our guide books said, “You’ll undoubtedly get lost walking around Venice…” and they were right. Streets just dead end-ed out of nowhere and it’s impossible to walk along the canal without constant detours and roadblocks—all part of the game and a lot of fun…unless you’re trying to get back to the hotel to use the bathroom. And a word to the wise: don’t bring your baby here. The whole city is a series of canals and rivers which means one thing: bridges. With steps. And hauling your stroller up and down steps constantly will annoy you and everyone else around…

We had dinner on the Grand Canal at the base of the Academia bridge: our first taste of Italian pizza. I had the quatro signione (or something along those lines…): prosciutto, artichokes, mushrooms, and mozzarella. It was heaven on earth. We literally could have stayed there all night… We’re late night eaters too, so this whole Europeans don’t go to dinner until 9pm thing jives with the Grassmeyer way of life.

Other highlights: Piazza San Marco is amazing, we toured the Pilazzo Ducale di Venezia—an old palace turned museum that also contains an old prison where Casanova was held and escaped, our bed and breakfast located right on the canal and our room with two giant windows overlooking it, riding up and down the Grand Canal at sunset…

Lowlights: The aforementioned pigeon pooping on my head, which for the record, I took like a champ… I’ve since been told that a pigeon pooping on your head is good luck, but I think that’s something people say who haven’t cleaned pigeon poop out of their hair before.

Enjoy our pictures—again, not in order or doctored up. Who has time for that? We’re in Italy!

339 The Academia bridge right by our hotel… (Tourist tip in Venice: book a hotel very close to the water taxi stops. Otherwise, you’re pulling suitcases up and down bridges which is no bueno… Or however you say that in Italiano.)

370The Santa Maria de Salute 371 375Peggy Guggenheim lived in Venice and started her collection here, where she is also buried. Who knew? (I didn’t even know Guggenheim was a girl…)380 395 401 405 407 Piazza San Marco426A ceiling in the doge’s palace…445The Ponte de Rialto487(Yes, that is a real, live monk. Not to be mistaken for Tim Tebow.) 493Some very nice Venetians on our boat were very excited to tell us that Edgar Jones lives in this building. I don’t know who that is, but he must be very important because they were very excited.506My nemeses.509Post-poop hair wash. Soft and conditioned, no?515Gondola rides are, like, 100 euro. We opted for the water bus that puts up and down the canal. Not as romantic, but much cheaper.522 Our guide books have become our Bible here. We are constantly referring to “the book.” And it has not failed us. All hail Frommer’s.528My first taste of lemoncello.529And my real time reaction. (We have actually tried it again since and the second place we had it was much better than the first.)532The Ponte de Academia at night…543Ciao, Venice! Next stop: Cinque Terre by way of Verona.

Real time update: We just arrived in Rome this morning and will be here for the next three days…

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