Just seeing a city floating on water is astonishing. How did they do that? Why did they do that?
Apparently it wasn’t intentional. It happened sometime around the fall of the Roman Empire when the mainland was invaded and the residents escaped to the protected lagoon of Venice.
But nothing can quite describe the misty softness that envelops Venice…
Nor the musky smell, and the echo of a multitude of gentle sounds on water…
Nor can one accurately describe the feel of history here. Knowing that William Shakespeare, Antonio Vivaldi, and Marco Polo lived here. One can just imagine Charles Dickens sauntering along the narrow streets savouring its complex explosion of the senses.
The music concerts in St Mark’s Square (San Marco) are mesmerizing. The acoustics are perfect, the setting romantic, the air warm and soft, the drinks refreshing as the sound echoes throughout the square. Some people sit at the elegantly set tables, others sit on the steps around the edge of the square, others dance in fresh rain puddles in the centre of the square.
Venice is dreamlike, provocative, infatuating. It seduces you by tantalizing every sense at once: sights, sounds, tastes, smell, and touch.
An Overheard Conversation at an up-scale hotel in Venice:
Couple: “How much is it?”
Hotel Desk Clerk: $130
Woman: “Oh Honey, that’s not bad. Let’s stay.”
Man: “It’s still quite a bit.”
Woman: “Is that your best price?”
Desk Clerk: “Yes, I’m afraid it is.”
Woman: “How about 100?”
Desk Clerk: “No Ma’am. I’m afraid not – that is the price.”
Woman: “Ok, 120?”
Desk Clerk: “No, I’m sorry, 130 is the price.”
Man:” C’mon, I’m sure you have some flexibility.”
Desk Clerk: “No Sir, I’m sorry, that is the price.”
Man: “F–k, give us a break, man!”
Desk Clerk (getting irritated): “No Sir, there is nothing I can do. I’m sorry.”
Woman: “This is ridiculous – you must have some rooms that are less.”
Desk Clerk: “No Ma’am.”
Man: “Do you have an hourly rate then?”
Desk Clerk: “That is the hourly rate Sir.”
(I almost fell off my chair.)
The couple promptly left.
Tips for Venice:
Stay near St. Marks Square (Piazza San Marco) – it is the most charming area.
There are no taxis because there are no roads, only canals and boats.
Be prepared to haul your luggage a long long way down cobblestone streets, up stairs, over bridges, and up two or three flights of stairs.
You will get lost, even if you have good directions. Everybody does. (It took us three hours and two phone calls to find our hotel. Make sure you have a 24 hour phone number for your hotel.)
Buy a 2 day pass for the Vaporetto. It’s 36 Euro and includes all water travel including trips to Murano Island and Burano Island
Don’t miss the music every evening in St. Mark’s Square.
See Burano Island with it’s colourful buildings.
Everything in Venice is expensive – very expensive.
Make sure the Gelato is actually real Gelato, not ice cream.
Skip the expensive gondola ride, and opt for the gondola row lesson for 80 Euro for two. It is 90 minutes long, a unique experience, and is a non-profit organization. http://rowvenice.com/
Spend time wandering the narrow streets and canals; the grand canal is not as charming and is packed with tourists.
To avoid the crowds, go in spring, fall or winter.
Experience the magic. Go once.