I hesitated for a long time before writing this last part of our Italy trip report. Quite honestly, I didn’t know how to tell you that I did not like Venice. There, I said it.
Don’t get me wrong – Venice was breathtakingly beautiful. After a 4.5-hour-drive from Tuscany, we laid eyes on a city built entirely on water. “Holy Shit” was all I managed to say as we drove over the last bridge into Piazzale Roma. Venice’s water had a distinct turquoise color that perfectly complimented its blue sky. Looking from a far, Venice defiantly extended into the sea – a testament to the power of human resourcefulness and engineering skills. Taking the water-bus into town, we encountered some of the most unique and magnificent architecture in all of Italy, influenced both by necessity and by its key location connecting East and West. Venice was jaw-dropping-ly gorgeous, and I felt in love literally at first sight.
Sadly, that love affair did not last long. Being in Venice was an entirely different story. It was soooooooo crowded. We live in New York City and are no strangers to crowds. But this was way worse than Times Square. Have you ever heard that the best part of Venice is to wander and get lost? I will tell you why – it is impossible NOT to get lost in Venice. The streets intersected by water were very difficult to navigate to begin with, but someone was bound to bump into you and knock your maps off every now and then anyway. It didn’t help that it rained the whole weekend, flooding the entire city, including St. Mark’s square and the inside of St. Mark’s cathedral. Now we had a city “under water” instead of “on the water.” They put out temporary bridges, but by now, the large crowd of tourists was stuck in an even smaller space, growing increasingly short-tempered. In addition, there were many people in tour groups, whose primary objective in all this chaos was to follow their guides' flags. I was standing in front of a store waiting for N. when a group of people literally pushed me all the way to the other end of the street. N. laughed when I reported in a huff, “I’ve got enemies trying to run me over now!!!!! And they’ve got FLAGS!!!!!” Little did I know that my number of enemies would increase exponentially when the evening came and I was chased by a cloud of mosquitos that quickly took over Venice. I have never travelled to a place where I wanted to go home and napped the day away so badly. Besides, it was not as though we could afford to sit down anywhere other than in our own room – everything in Venice was ridiculously expensive. Coming from Tuscany where locals routinely offered us free food, we weren’t so keen on paying big bucks just to sit at a café with a million other tourists.
That being said, we made the most of our trip. Venice had a number of amazing museums that for some reasons did not attract many tourists. N. and I spent an afternoon learning about the history of this unique city. Venice was home to one the most complex and vibrant political and economic systems in the world. If you just stop and think about it – it must take a special group of people to build, protect, and develop a city on the sea. I wonder how many tourists who trample St. Mark’s everyday know the story of a community that came together at a time of tragedy to build that magnificent square. The best part of Venice isn’t the gondola ride (for which we coughed up 100 Euro) - it’s the story of how the gondolas were built, the places they have connected, and the people they have carried. We might have arrived in Venice with only an admiration for its beauty, but we definitely left Venice with the deepest respect for its people.
We flew out of Milan back to New York City. And there you have it – our entire Italy trip. Everywhere we went, we discovered gorgeous landscapes, magnificent architecture, a rich history, a beautiful people, along with delicious food and wine. I hope you have enjoyed the details of this trip report as much as I have enjoyed sharing them with you.
Yet the best part of our trip was not about those details. Rather, it was about meeting up with dear friends like Hien and T., sharing stories amidst laughter and tears. It was about making new friends like Lelia, learning how much we had in common despite our very different lives.
Most importantly, it was about travelling with my husband. As I boarded the plane back to New York, I understood for the first time the meanings of honeymoons. Whereas the wedding celebrated a promise, the honeymoon recognized a reality – that of two people on the same journey. Every morning on this trip, I woke up eager to explore a new place, knowing that he would always be besides me no matter how lost we might get. And every night, even though we often returned to a different place, I felt completely at home next to him. The honeymoon, at its core, was a simple realization of the promise I already made to N. on our wedding day – that no matter where we may be,
“From this day forward,
You shall never ever walk alone.
For my heart is your shelter.
And my arms? Your home.”
For previous Italy trip reports, check out: