For me, today was the most anticipated day of the trip. I have dreamt of seeing the city of Venice, Italy from a very young age and today was the day that my dream came to life. We boarded a train around nine and arrived in Venice around 10:30. Immediately upon exiting the train station, we were met by an unforgiving wind and bone-chilling cold. However, the charming and historical city endured. We first took a water taxi from the train station to Saint Mark’s square through a large, open body of water. Around us, thousands of other tourists likewise traversed the cold waters, all admiring the incredible bridges and cathedrals. We arrived in St. Mark’s and immediately boarded Gondolas for our first official activity of the day. As we embarked, copying a mode of transpiration used for hundreds, maybe even thousands of years, I was awestruck by the skill of those operating the Gondolas. Standing, often on one foot, they used long, wooden oars to maneuver through the narrow passageways of the Venetian Canals. Towards the end of the journey, one of my classmates noticed his seat was wet and, without warning, decided to move across the vessel to the other side. The Gondola rapidly lost balance and just as my head plunged toward the water, the operator stabilized the craft and saved us from soaking clothes and a ruined day. He then screamed at us in Italian, obviously scolding our irresponsible behavior. The only phrase not lost in translation was “stupido, stupido, stupido.”
After the rocky ride, we returned to the shore and were given two hours for lunch. Luca, our ISA travel rep. advised us not to eat anywhere near St. Mark’s square due to the absurd prices and touristy inauthenticity. We ate at a quaint sandwich shop and warmed up to prepare for the rest of the day. After lunch, we began our walking tour of Venice which struck my attention more than any previous on this trip. Our fantastic guide took us through alleys and in hidden courtyards to truly explore the enigmatic city, all the while offering fascinating commentary about the history of Venice and its inhabitants. I can’t nail down a facorite part, but I loved each and every alley and underpass we traversed. I truly felt like I received a comprehensive visit to Venice. The sad thing is that this once great city now serves as more of an amusement park than a city. With only 50k citizens and upwards to 80k daily tourists, Venice is a shell of its former glory. After the tour, we found a small Venetian restaurant with a menu ranging from seafood to pizza to enjoy the remainder of our day. Tomorrow we visit the Verona consortium for our final day until we return to Milan.