Travel Tidbit #4: A Venetian for a Day
Venice is one of the world’s biggest tourist destinations, so it doesn’t need much selling from this blog. What I would like to say though, is that when you go, slow down. Venice is such an easy place to get caught up in sight seeing. The Basilica di San Marco, The Doge’s Palace, The Accademia, Le Fenice, La Torre dell’Orologio, Rialto bridge, the legendary “Bridge of Sighs,” the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, the Palazzo Ducale, and of course the endless arrays of the famous Murano glass are all unmissable sights and it takes a lot of focus to make sure you catch them all; as a result, people tend to come for a couple hours, knock the names off a list, and head out. In fact, the first time I went, that’s what I did. Staying there is expensive and the endless mass of tourists in La Piazza di San Marco are strong deterrents for an extended stay, I get it. But, if you make Venice a day trip, you wont love it.
The sights are amazing, but they can’t be done quickly. The Doge’s Palace is huge. Particularly after a comparatively momentary walk around the Basilica di San Marco, it will have felt like days by the time you exit. But, if you are going to get lost in time, the palace is a great place to do so.
The Accademia houses so much fantastic Italian art, even with a strong pace, you can’t get out in more than a couple hours. Somehow your feet get bogged down in Titian’s deep reds; time slows as you ponder da Vinci’s mesmerizing “Vitruvian Man;” you have to shove through Veronese’s crowded works after climbing, inch by inch, out of the depths of Tintoretto’s perspectives; you find yourself frozen in front of Giorgione’s “Tempest,” admiring the incoming storm, only to find yourself finally glancing at a watch while rushing a cursory scan of one a Liss snap shot of life. After doggedly leaving the gallery, a lazy drink during a Venetian dusk is the only thing you’ll want to do- three more stops before grabbing the late train really isn’t realistic. But, if you are on a time crunch and have to do Venice in a weekend, bite your lip, dig down and sight see for a day; because then you can spend a day as a Venetian.
After spending Saturday running around from stop to stop and bottle of water to bottle of water, Sunday should be for hanging. Back track to those labyrinthine streets that you wondered through, lost, from the train station to (what you thought was the unavoidable conclusion to every street) Basilica di San Marco. Find that lazy piazza with the umbrella covered tables, savory aromas leaking through windows, with the kids playing calcio and old men people watching, cane in hand, Compari not far from reach.
Sit down and be lazy and take in the atmosphere and history of Venice. Sitting around with Venetians, your mind will drift back to its days of commercial superstardom, when the streets were full not of tourists, but velvet and silk clad merchants- Dutch, German, Turk. When master mask shops were flanked not by souvenir stands, but brothels and inns. As you day dream, a procession suddenly emerges from one of the alleys- an entire congregation walking, in song, behind some forgotten relic. An off duty gondolier, exhausted and enjoying a cigarette next to his vessel on the canal, begins a beautiful and tragic song. Even the locals stop for a moment, put forks down, pick up the ball, or turn off the hose to hear the lament.
Un-categorical, Venice is the tourism capital off the world, but remains a place where you can experience that true rustic feel of Italy. So, don’t miss the true gem. When you schedule your next trip to Venice, make sure to leave a day of nothingness, so you can have a cappuccino and some sardines and jam on toast and experience the life of a Venetian for a day.