Saturday, March 15, 2008

Italy Part 9: Venice

On the last day of our Italy trip, we spent the day in Venice.

The city is built on 110 little islands in a salt water lagoon. Travel is restricted entirely to boating or walking -- no cars are allowed in the city at all. Venice is known as the largest urban car free area in Europe.

We parked near the dock, and took the traghetti (waterbus) in.

Once inside the city, the water is full of Gondolas giving high-priced rides to tourists, as well as Venitians boating about doing their every day errands. (For example, if you dig a hole, you then have to boat the dirt out somewhere. So strange.)

We, of course, had to eat seafood while we were there. I ate my favorite food -- raw oysters. Everything we had, unfortunately, was incredibly overpriced, because we were not able to get beyond the very touristy area during our short visit. (Although the seafood was very fresh and good. The vegetables Not so much.)

The bread of Venice, as well as the olive oil, is remarkably bad (the bread pale and spongy and the oil smelling...well, just not good), and was especially a let down after what we had become accustomed to in Florence. From what I hear, their Jewish bread (from the Jewish ghetto or district) is delicious, but it always sells out at the bakeries by lunch-time, so at dinner there's almost no chance of it. Oh well.

The architecture was very beautiful, and we definitely want to go back to explore more. The top two pictures below are of San Marco square.

Unfortunately, the whole place is over run by pigeons, and this is totally played up, complete with little stands selling cones of pigeon food to feed to the hoards of birds (we contributed to the problem with two dropped ice cream cones).

The shopping is extensive, strongly featuring beautiful, artistically handmade Murano glass in countless shop windows.

The entire city feels magical. It was a lot of fun just to walk around and take in the sites. It did get pretty cold as night fell, and we did not manage to get beyond the touristy bits, but we took with us some lovely memories.

One funny fact: as we were looking around for a place to eat dinner, I noticed a heart and cupid on one of the menus in a restaurant window. I turned to Greg: "Hey, what day is today?"
"Ummm...February 14th."
(joking) "Wow! So you took me to Venice for Valentine's day!"
"That's today?!"
Neither of us had any idea until that moment. Whoops! What hopeless romantics we are. :)

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