After today, I can finally scratch a few items off of my bucket list. Our day began with a train ride to the one and only Venice, Italy. The train was surprisingly my favorite mode of transportation so far, and the views were incredibly scenic and lush. Once we arrived, we took a water taxi to land. The waters were packed for a windy Tuesday morning as we made our way through choppy waters. Our first water experience was filled with sheer awe – we were simultaneously overwhelmed by the salty air, the roar of the seagulls, and the blur of tourists on the sidewalks.
The gondola experience was absolutely incredible. Out of everything on this trip, I think this will be one of those memories I hold with me forever. The boat gently skimmed through the waves of the Grand Canal until we made our way to smaller internal canals. It felt like a dream as we sifted from one body of water to another, and I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that this city is able to function with waterways as its main form of transport. From a design standpoint, I wonder how architects and city planners of Venice decided to construct bridges to last through supreme flooding and wear, and what materials are the most cost effective for producing such structures. But, these questions didn’t immediately come to mind while in the boat – we were all too busy taking in Venice’s grandeur.
After the gondola ride, we had free time to explore and get lunch. We stopped at a local sandwich shop and pasticceria. Surprisingly, the food in Venice is very subpar. I don’t think this city is known for its great cuisine as it is its sights and history. Speaking of which, after lunch, we departed on a walking tour of downtown Venice. We toured the famous St. Margaret’s Palace, Doge’s Palace, and other gothic structures that are still standing from the Middle Ages. Many bridge crossings later, we stumbled into the Venetian ghetto. This was by far my favorite part of the day. I learned that there is a large Jewish population in this area of the city, because Jews originally fled to Venice in the 1400s to avoid religious persecution. These people kept resorting to Venice generation after generation, and now there is a small thriving community nestled between canals. I also learned that the Venetian word for ghetto is getto, pronounced with a soft “g” sound. But, when Jewish people came to Venice, they could not pronounce this sound and started saying”ghetto” instead. This tidbit of trivia fascinated me.
After the walking tour, we were given time to explore until our train left, and now we are safely back in Verona. Tomorrow, we visit the consortium.
Farewell, Venice. May your canals always flow with the same mystical allure of centuries before.