Saturday, April 08, 2017

3/23/17- A fitting end in Venice

That'll cost you 100 Euros

I guess it makes sense to spend the last chapter of our Italian journey in the town most commonly associated with this great nation.  Ah...Venice, the floating city that has become somewhat of a themepark.  I wonder what the  Doge would think of what his town has become.

I have admit that I've always been biased against this Venice.  Something about the contrived romance of this place and the thousands of cruise-ship day trippers have always tarnished the  incredible history and architectural beauty that is available for those patient enough to wade through the insane crowds.

The interior of the Basilica
My complacency towards the floating city, our exhausting pace, the potential crowds, and the fact that we had an early morning flight home had me thinking that we should just bypass the hassle of Venice all together. Fortunately my dad was insistent that we at least log half a day exploring its canals and sites.

We checked into the Courtyard at around 8am and dropped off the car around 9.  Both actions were handled with surprising ease. I was glad to be free the car and I was very glad for the US customer service that comes with the Marriott.  With those two tasks complete we set out on the vaporetto and headed to Saint Marks, our first stop.

Our plan was to start far out and make our way back.  We also figured that Saint Marks would be the busiest area and it made the most sense to hit that earlier rather than later. The crowds were bad when we arrived but they would be so much worse as the day progressed.  The big attraction for me?  The Basilica at Saint Marks.

Check out the details on these beauties
Since we didn't visit Ravenna this would be my only real chance to take in some Byzantine art and architecture that is captured within the Church.  Also inside were some of the finest treasures won/stolen during the various crusades.  A personal highlight was the famed Horses of Saint Marks.  These date back to Rome and were pilfered by Venice from Constantinople.  Napoleon also managed to steal these for a brief time for France.

The Church visit took us into lunch. We didn't have high expectations regarding dining so we just located the first trattoria off the square.  It didn't really matter because most of the places are the same.  They all offer moderately well executed menu containing the highlights of Italy.  They are smart and know that this is what the demands of tourism dictate.  The restaurant also featured a rare and very much in demand commodity, a clean bathroom.

                                                                                                    Refreshed and full we embarked on one of those Rick Steve's walking tours.  It promised to take us by some hidden gems and off the beaten path.  I was game so long as it offered the prospect of avoiding some of the crowds.  The walk took us through a few notable places like the Opera House, original Church, and ultimately the Rialto Bridge.

At this point of the day I had seen enough.  I was worried about making sure we could get things wrapped up for our departure and I felt like we had seen the best landmarks.  I wouldn't have minded to stay longer after the crowds had left but it would put my little plan in jeopardy.

We made our way back to Roma plaza but the closer we got the slower we walked.  We still had some afternoon moments left and we didn't want to prematurely leave just to assuage my anxiousness to keep my arbitrary plan.

We got back to the hotel around 5pm thankful that I gave the city a somewhat honest try.  Unlike many other places in Italy I think one visit to Venice was enough for my lifetime.  I enjoyed what I saw but not enough to tolerate what it has become.

As we finished packing it dawned on me that this trip really was coming to an end.  For the first time in several days I was able to replace feelings of Italian related travel stress and longing for my family with a true sense of gratitude for the opportunity to come back to Italy as well as a sense of regret and longing for not seeing more.  Dad and I had been planning this trip for over a year and it was astonishing at how quickly it passed by.  This trip be remembered for years to come with fondness and a sense of wonder for how amazing our little world really is.

Goodbye Venice and farewell Italyl

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3/23/17- A fitting end in Venice

That'll cost you 100 Euros I guess it makes sense to spend the last chapter of our Italian journey in the town most commonly associ...