Onto Venezia! We took the train from Verona to Venice this morning for a quick day trip. My friends and I decided to disregard the weather forecast of mid 50 degrees and all wore our cutest sun dresses. Big mistake. Turns out, the wind that comes off the water makes things a lot colder. We hopped into a water taxi to get to our gondola rides. Just the concept of a water taxi itself is crazy. While the city is beyond beautiful, the concept of no cars and just boats isn’t functional for a modern city. This among many other reasons is why the city is mainly tourists these days. I’m still a little shaken up from our gondola ride. It was so windy and the water in the main canal was very rough. We were also tilted so much to the other side of the boat that I was bracing myself on the opposite side of the boat. There was a point in the trip when people on one side of the boat got wet, and someone tried to move to the other side. This weight shift resulted in our boat almost capsizing and our gondola driver yelling some choice words. It was definitely beautiful in the calmer waters. I’m sure our driver had our boat under control, but I was still a little uneasy during the trip. During our free time, we explored the city’s small bridges and took some pretty pictures. While we were walking through the streets, everyone could immediately tell we were tourists because we were the only ones not in winter coats and gloves. Italians seem to be extra sensitive to the cold. Even on the sunniest days they wear long trench coats, which is very different from Americans, who throw on shorts as soon as it breaks 70 degrees.
Lunch was a bit of a struggle because all of the places were pretty touristy, which our guide Luca warned us against because of the high prices. We settled on a close restaurant and ate the most American pizza I’ve eaten so far in Italy.
I really enjoyed our walking tour despite the tour. The history of the unique city was fascinating. We saw the entire block that was owned by Marco Polo’s family, who were apparently very rich merchants. We also saw the Jewish “getto” and learned more about the history of Jewish people in the city. During World War II, not as many Jewish people were captured by Nazis in Venice as other cities because they were so hard to find throughout the islands. Historically, Jewish people were not discriminated against as badly in Venice as in other cities because they had money to invest in the city’s merchants.
To warm up after the tour, my friends and I needed not one but two hot chocolates. The city of Venice is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The buildings built directly on the canals are an incredible feat, especially considering how long ago they were built. I really enjoyed my time in the city, but Milan, which is less of a tourist trap and more functional, still has my heart.