Before going to Venice this weekend, I knew that it was a city with a lot of canals where people took gondola rides, etc., but I wasn’t able to fully comprehend that this is a city literally built on water. Walking through Venice was like walking on another planet with no cars or streets, just boats and waterways. It was (like everywhere else I’ve been in Italy) truly magical.
One of the cool things about Venice is that you could spend as little as a day there and see most of the major sites or go for a week and not tire of it. It is a little island, but has so many tiny streets to get lost wandering around that it’s impossible to get bored. My favorite part of my Venice trip was strolling down the impossibly narrow streets and simply adoring the houses and water.
I could’ve walked away my time in Venice, but would’ve missed some amazing sites. Saint Mark’s Square and Basilica were gorgeous. Tourists packed Saint Mark’s when we went in the afternoon, but even the crowds couldn’t detract from the awe-inspiring beauty of the place. The Campanile Bell Tower is next door to the Cathedral. The bird’s eye view of the terracotta rooftops and canals from the top of the historic bell tower was completely worth the €8 admission.
The Doge’s Palace is right around the corner from the Campanile Bell Tower and was as packed as Saint Mark’s. Again, the Doge’s Palace was completely worth waiting in the Disney World-length line to enter. The palace was full of beautiful art, tapestries, furniture, and chandeliers. There were rooms dedicated to antique books and ancient armor and weapons. This huge palace has essentially been converted to a museum and it could take hours to really observe all the treasures there.
The highlight of the Doge’s Palace for me was touring the prisons. We had to cross the “Bridge of Sighs” to get to the cells. Following the same route as the prisoners of the old days was bizarre. I imagined being one of them, stealing my last glance at Venice from the bridge as I walked to my prison sentence. Needless to say, the “Bridge of Sighs” is aptly titled. The cells were damp and dank and we had to skirt puddles in the prison. I can’t even imagine serving time in the dark, soggy cellar prison of the Doge’s Palace. The juxtaposition between the jail and the magnificent palace directly above it was almost comical.
In addition to Saint Mark’s, the Campanile Bell Tower, and the Doge’s Palace, Venice is home to a few art galleries, namely the Peggy Guggenheim. We were able to check out a modern art museum in a warehouse on the Grand Canal. There were crazily colorful contemporary pieces in this old canal city. We also had a great time checking out the fish market: there were octopi, live crabs, huge shrimp, squids, and so much more. Venice never did cease to surprise me.
After the sun set, we noticed raised wooden walkways being set up on the Venetian streets. I am still astonished by the fact that the city floods every night and that people choose to live there. Venice is beautiful, but I would miss dry feet and being able to drive a car after a couple of weeks. I guess you can take the girl out of America, but you can’t take the American out of the girl.