April 25th was Liberation Day in Italy, a national holiday, so we took the opportunity to visit Venice, a four hour drive yet a world away. We all instantly fell in love.
Everyone has seen pictures of the gondolas on the canal. Everyone knows it’s a city on the water. We even listened to Rick Steves on the drive in and felt prepared. I felt like I knew what I was in for.
But when we arrived I realized I just couldn’t take it all in. Venice is a city that must be experienced.
We could try to take the same pictures that have been taken over the centuries.
But Venice requires all the senses.
You need to feel the width of the street where there is just enough space to walk.
You have to feel the rocking of the dock while waiting for the next ferry boat….and the continued rocking in your head long after you’ve stepped off.
You must smell the fish market, because while it is of course fishy, it’s also fresh.
How can a picture do justice to the golden architecture of St. Mark’s Basilica? Believer or not, there’s something very spiritual and moving about being at the sepulcher of Jesus’ contemporary.
The taste of Venice is both salty and sweet. Creamy gelato, strong caffe and fresh seafood-and obviously a glass of wine.
The loud clanging of the bells in the campanile are both heard and felt.
Every turn we made brought us to another picturesque corner.
Sunday was rainy, windy and cold, we were looking for adventure. We took the 45 minute vaporetto ride to the Island of Murano, home of glass art and artists.
We walked the cold, wet streets until we found refuge in a factory offering a glass blowing demonstration by a master artist.
After the brief demonstration including a vase and a horse, we were led to an amazing gallery and showroom. We went to Murano knowing we wanted to buy a wine decanter and they must have smelled it on us. We had been to all the shops and felt confident in making our choice. We also fell in love with the glass fish “bowls”. When the gallery owner made us his most “disgusting” deal, we knew we couldn’t refuse and bought both. We were shown the rest of the gallery and treated to a private shuttle back to Venice. We felt like royalty and hated to return to the commoner’s life on the public ferry.
We had to wait until Monday morning for our own stereotypical gondola ride on the canals. It was right before we left town and we knew we COULD NOT leave Venice without it. It was wonderful. It was still early and the crowds were just starting to come out into the sunshine. It was a holiday after all. I am so glad we did it and I’m glad we waited until the sun was out. It really was magical.
I am in love with the history and can’t believe I was walking the same streets as, well, everyone throughout history from Marco Polo to Peggy Guggenheim. I am in awe of the human capacity to build and design and create and do, all without an iDevice on a marshy swamp.
I know I’m not the first person to have these revelations. I KNOW that. But having these experiences in these places first-hand changes your brain. In a positive way.
We are all anxious to return when the sun is shining and we can explore more tiny streets and get lost along the canals. Come visit so we have an excuse to go again!