Thursday, September 15, 2011


A Floating Maze

While this floating city was absolutely amazing to see, we have no near-term plans to travel back.

Why? Well, I've come to learn that I'm most fond of the more intimate communities like Ravello, Burano, ~ even Montepulciano.

That doesn't mean you can't find quiet or charming in Venice, however; I just found the place crawling with so many tourists, it felt more like Vegas than "real" Venice. And the street vendors? I felt like they were hocking carnevale masks more likely to have been mass produced in China, than Italy. I have no proof of this; just my takeaway aura.

So, Why Venice?

Who hasn't heard in recent years that Venice "was sinking?" So, after four trips to Italy, we agreed it was finally time to visit this iconic city. You will be amazed with the maze that is Venice itself! This is definitely a city like no other so you should make a plan to see it at least once.

Suggested Stay:

A minimum of 2-3 days.

Getting To Venice:

waterworld also has an airport named Marco Polo for those of you who may be arriving via sky. Plane, train, boat, even car (to the outer parts)... there are several choices for your arrival
transport. We arrived to Venice from Milan via train and caught a vaporetto in mere minutes.

Must See & Do:

Searching for more quiet, I spent most of my time in Venice traveling outside Venice, so my recommendations on what to see in Venice proper hail from my short list or from tips I've received from friends.

Harry's Bar ~
 (Hotel Cipriani, San Marco 1323)

In 1931, the doors of Harry's Bar opened and touched the world. I could attempt to bore you with my rendition of the delightful story of its origins, so perhaps you should read (and listen) to it here. If rejuvenating the soul in the same spot as Barbara Hutton, Charlie Chaplin, Hemingway and more floats your boat (or your gondola, in this case), make your way here when in Venice.

Fabriano ~ (Calle del Lovo, San Marco 4816)

It was a hot, steamy day in Venice.

I was searching for shade, but instead, found this incredible boutique, which had charming windows displays *and* air conditioning. Score! Wide eyed, I fell in the tiny store for about an hour.

Fabriano celebrates all things made of paper. Even things closely connected to it. Photo albums, journals, stationery, oragami kits, wood and graphite pencils, curly-q paper clips... even paper puppets. In a world rushing for all things digital, Fabriano slows us back a bit to a time when color, smell and the mere feel of paper itself communicates volumes above and beyond the words or drawings gracing the paper canvases. You'll find this store a delightful respite during your Venice adventure. Make sure and say "howdy" to the shopkeeper. She's super nice and shared a story about the handmade wooden ruler I purchased (below). A golden story!

Don't let the store's modern design or worldwide chain-store status fool you; Fabriano has been around since 1264 and publishers, writers and artists including Michelangelo himself have been crafting with the high quality papers of Fabriano.

Ponte della Constituzione (grand opening 2008) ~

While researching Santiago Calatrava and his new bridge that opened in Dallas this year (2012), I found he had a project in Venice that I missed during my visit.

The "Constitution Bridge" is a beautifully designed bridge made of tempered glass and fluorescent lights and is a lesser-known bridge to the famed Rialto bridge (Venice's first). Nestled in a city of decorative "old," the bridge received much criticism for it's modern and minimalist design and it's lack of handicapped access and its overall ease of use (and lack thereof) for the elderly.

Well, it's there and serves as one of just four bridges spanning Venice's Grand Canal. Certainly worth a walk across.

This uber detailed wiki post has some great information regarding the points of interest along the canal that you may find useful.

The Islands of Murano and Burano ~ 

A short vaporetto ride outside Venice will land you at either island. Murano sports the amazing Murano glass you've heard so much about.

The colorful fishing community of Burano is known for it's handmade lace. Caution: It's pricey. And the Burano charm may just take your breath away.

Verona ~

Head to Venice's Santa Lucia train station and make a day trip break for beautiful Verona. This walkable city is dripping with charm, history and shopping. The entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the setting for multiple Shakespearean plays. If you love graffiti, padlocks and swarms of people, make your way to Juliet's house (Casa di Giulietta), and a view of the inspiration of the longtime love story Romeo and Juliet. The balcony? It was added in 1936 and is not the original, but still charming to visit.

Here's a speedy link for detailed posts on Murano and Burano. Verona is in the oven and coming out soon!

Other Venice Tips:

Be prepared to literally lose yourself in Venice. I found my map was too precise ~ too complex ~ so I resorted to my sense of direction (or lack thereof), to navigate the city. My best advice is to have no plans on where you are going within Venice; just start walking and create your next adventure.

 I've read that Christmastime in Venice is totally magical. Peaceful. And if you're especially lucky, get ready for snow. If walking raised planks and taking alternate walkways aren't for you, keep in mind the "acqua alta" (high water) season is generally found between October and March. The pictures I've seen of boats floating in Piazza San Marco... or the memorable pic of the Italian who caught a sea bass with his hands while wading in Piazza San Marco make me think the lower tide times of the year are for me. I visited in September and it was smooth sailing.

The pic at left ~ that was the lobby of my apartment rental; each morning for a few hours, the water would "lap" above the floor tiles - something I found kinda eerie.

Thirsty For More Venice?

Have a peek at some more pictures of my stop here on Flickr.

for the love of : italy

Our Next Stop?

Magical Murano. All aboard a vaporetto for this city known for its art glass.

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