Saturday, May 3, 2014

Italian Road Trip. Final stop: Venice 8/31 - 9/1

Our last stop in Italy was Venice.

Last stop

We parked near the airport and took public transportation into Venice's historical center (i.e. the islands), where we stayed for two days and one night.

Mochi and Rug.

Our experience with Venice was quite literally day and night. During the day, throngs of visitors crowded the tiny streets like sardines and it seemed impossible to turn a corner without seeing more people. But most people and tour groups only visit for a few hours during daytime, so at night the islands became much more calm and intimate.

Pedestrian tourists highway.
Gondola ride traffic jam.
Some of the more interesting canals have no sidewalks.

At night, we let ourselves get lost in the old rustic alleys and enjoyed the reflection of lights on the canals. We also passed by dance clubs, ranging from regular to super ritzy. There were a lot of Italian teenagers partying hard.

Venice at night is incredibly different.
Intimate walk through the old alleyways.

Piazza San Marco is the main piazza of historical Venice. The upscale cafes hire top notch musicians to perform for their guests outdoors. At San Marco we experienced the annoyance that apparently plagues every piazza of any popular Italian town: pushy sellers of garbage souvenirs such as laser pointers and twirly plastic flying junk that lights up in the air.

Live music at Piazza San Marco.
Romance diminishes as one of the pushy sellers approaches the couple to sell flowers.

Pushy sellers aside, Venice is truly magical at night. I would recommend anyone considering visiting to stay at least one night for a more intimate experience.

Gondola rides at night are more romantic although also more expensive.
Love Lock

Venice is a beautiful and strange place. We really liked how the city has been well preserved and cars have never been allowed on the islands. The romance feels especially real at night after most tourists leave. But it strangely feels that it is not a real town inhabited by real residents. We later learned that most grocery stores have been replaced by restaurants and souvenir shops. For the most part, those who live on the island can only find jobs tied to the tourism industry. Sadly, many of the residents left because the local government and community couldn't foster a well-rounded economy. I understand this is the real historical Venice, but with so many tourists and not enough residents, it felt a bit like an amusement park.

After visiting Venice, we were off to our new home.