Yes, Venice is BEAUTIFUL.
But, omfg does it reek.
The minute we exited the train station, a waft of sewer-water filled air smacked us dab on the face. At first sniff, it was quite uncomfortable but our noses got accustomed to it as we began our wandering into this beautiful city placed on stinky water. Venezia was definitely one of my most memorable days out of the vacation because of all the exploring we got to do. Once out of the station we began walking around and we found this adorable merchant area. The streets are so tiny and narrow and walking in between them feels like you are in some sort of hallway. There were little boutiques all around and then all of a sudden it changes from small streets to this large shopping center with all of the top of the line brands. It felt like a little maze of small local stores and then BAM you are in luxury shopping territory. After escaping the luring gaze of the high-end fashion, we ended up in this serene little piazza with locals rather than tourists and had our first café for the day.
While I really, and I mean REALLY, wanted a gondola ride, that shit was too fucking expensive. This little rip off gondola dude tried to tell us it was going to be €80 for a thirty-minute gondola ride. My boyfriend looked at me like “Do not even think about it!” and we went to the public transportation sign, which, obviously, is a boat (aka vaporetto). We were a little hesitant at first but then once we got onto this (VERY) packed boat there was this outside area beside the railings and it pretty much felt like a gondola ride except surrounded by a ton of people, without a nice Italian guy singing, and only cost us €10. While on the vaporetto, I learned that the NYC equivalent to a garbage dump truck in Venice is a garbage dump boat/barge. Their “sanitation” workers legit hang off the edge of the boat grabbing the garbage bags left on the sides of the street’s edge and throw it on the barge. I giggled and wondered if when people from Venice come to the city, see our version of dump “boats”, men hanging off the edge of the trucks, or men flinging trash from across the street. if that’ll make them giggle too. (Random thoughts)
We got off at Piazza de San Marco and it was absolutely breathtaking. The architecture, the grandeur, the beauty. It was so overwhelming. The San Marco Campanile – the bell of St. Mark – had a short line in comparison to the Basilica so we decided to head to the bell tower first. Beware the stairs y’all. Though sturdy, still frightening. It was quite the little trek to the top, too. As we headed to the Basilica di San Marco– people– I am going to pause here to digress a bit because I just want to explain something. This trip was amazing, but there were certain moments where it truly felt magical. Maybe because it was my first big trip, maybe it was because it made me feel closer to my “Italian” (should be Sicilian) roots, or maybe because this place is an actual magical place. In total there were about six magical moments for me. This was one of them.
The moment I walked into the Basilica my heart skipped a beat. The ceiling, covered in tiled mosaics and gold. Even now as I am writing this, I can close my eyes and still feel myself there, standing in the center, staring up at slowly spinning. Each turn more exhilarating than the last. It was alluring, to say the least. In the corner there were candles to be lit for those who wish to make donations and on the other side, a small mass was being held. Although I do not consider myself to be a devout Catholic, I am a Catholic nonetheless, and in this place, I felt closer to god. I cannot explain why or how, but it encouraged me to sit through the mass. After the mass, we journeyed through the Basilica and there was a museum section we did not expect. We walked through and it took us about an hour or so to complete.
We left the basilica and hopped back onto the vaporetto to take us to the town area where the train to head back to Rome was. There, we walked and passed the Rialto Bridge and found a quaint little restaurant to eat some seafood. Sidenote: while it is true, Italians do frown upon cheese with your seafood, I, personally, do not give a flying fuck. The waiter looked at me annoyed, and I could not really care because this lady- loves. her. some. cheese. Any-who, after we ate and strolled for some gelato (as per usual) we headed back into the station and headed back to Rome with some regrets because there was so much more to see and simply not enough time.