Happily Flooded


I haven’t been back to Venice, Italy in over ten years so you know I’m all over it when the opportunity rises to go there. This time, however, so has the water in Venice.

I leave from the Charleroi Airport outside of Brussels for a very early flight to the equally tiny Treviso Airport in Italy. This is how you get those incredible spontaneous deals via Ryan Air around Europe. From Treviso it’s about a 40-min-10-Euros-round-trip bus ride to the Piazzale Roma, where I catch my first of many vaporetto rides (on my 2-day water taxi card that can also be purchased at the Treviso airport) at the P. le Roma stop.


The first ride requires validating the card at one of these contraptions:


Anyway, I’m already on the vaporetto by 9am and as we cruise down the Canal Grande to my stop at S. Marco, my heart is completely full. There are many cities in the world that charm me but very few manage to utterly bewitch me as does Venice. Here are the many reasons why I feel this way:




In fact, I’m so distracted by taking those pictures above, especially of St. Mark’s Square, that I miss my stop all together and have to hop off the next one at S. Zaccaria and walk backwards. Before coming here, I actually went to look for rain boots in Belgium but thought I’d just wear my running shoes instead in case of rain as they dry fast. Of course, as soon as I see the locals in the many varieties of wellies I know I am in trouble.  Venice is flooded:


Makeshift planks follow me from the taxi stop to the sidewalks along the canal. You can walk two-by-two on the platform but it’s tricky with luggage, even if I’m traveling with a tiny rolling case:



There are alternate routes to any destination during high tides, but when you are just arriving there for the first time, it is easy to get frustrated in maneuvering the flooded streets in incorrect footwear.


St. Mark’s is still lovely to me under water:


I can’t really figure my way around the last inundated street to my hotel and the storekeeper near it advises me to just wait about half an hour for the water to recede, so I decide to do some sightseeing instead. Near me are all the nice shops… Prada, Bottega, Hermes, churches, mysterious alleys all blocked by water. I’ve never been so happily flooded before!


And just like clockwork, when I go back to the street that takes me to my hotel half an hour later, the path is now clear.  You’d never know it was submerged just a short while ago. Since I am here one full week before Carnevale and in the dead of winter, my room is ready for me before 11am. I chat with the concierge and she tells me this year’s economy has been so bad globally that I could probably still find a room for Carnevale this late in the game at a good price. For once they are not sold out and certainly not marking up their price for these two weeks of celebration in the hope of filling the rooms. Speaking of Carnevale, the stores are all full of elaborate masks and I can’t get enough of looking into store windows for the fantastic displays. 


I am certain before I leave Venice I will be buying some masks.  Anyway, I freshen up a bit and head back out with my camera. Here’s a quick video to show how big St. Mark’s square is (if you can spot me that is!):



Here are the sounds of bells tolling at the church:



I can’t show you any pictures of what the gilded church looks like inside, but maybe the exterior shots will whet your appetite to come see all of this for yourself:


I don’t know why every time I walk past this bridge I think of Las Vegas–it is actually the Ponte dei Sospiri or Bridge of Sighs and connects the interrogation rooms with the prisons found in the Doge’s Palace. The tale is that prisoners would sigh as this is the last view of beautiful Venice (and freedom) that they’d get before being hauled off to prison, even if there’s not much to that in history. The real legend, however, is that if you kiss your beloved on a gondola under this bridge at sunset, you will be assured of eternal love. It’s really cold here so I’m thinking you might get pneumonia instead if you are on a gondola any time today.


Now, it basically costs 6 Euros per vaporetto ride, and a 2-day pass costs 28 Euros, so by the fifth ride you feel like you’ve already beaten the system.  But the truth is, sometimes it’s just faster to walk it. Plus you get to stop off in nooks and crannies that you otherwise would miss from being on the boat (but being on the boat gets you wonderful bird’s eye views and photos that you can’t get from being on land!).  And even after half a day of walking around Venice you already get the impression that you can’t really get lost here. The alleys might be tricky to navigate in the dark but as long as you have an idea of where the canal is, you can always find your way home. Anyway, where was I? Yes, I am maximizing my day pass by going to another island: Murano, land of glassmaking. Glassmakers were pushed out to Murano in the 13th century due to fear of fire on Venice from their kilns. Here’s a video of a glassblowing demo I wander into:



All around the island you find glass sculptures:


There are even glass flowers on the balconies:


From Murano I hop over to Burano, an island known for lace and brightly painted houses:


It is on the island of Burano that I buy my first Carnevale mask, at a small shop owned by a couple with a young son. The man makes the papier-mâché masks at the store and his wife is the shopkeeper. Their 9-year-old son will probably continue the family tradition. I will post pictures of souvenirs when I get home since I don’t want to undo the packaging.

By the time I get back to Venice it is dark and feels like a ghost town:

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I have dinner plans to get to and will post more tomorrow on my second and last day in Italy. It’s not supposed to flood tomorrow but rain is predicted. Can’t wait to tell you about the great food I’ve already had here so far. I could happily get fat in Italy on the delicious pasta and desserts. But is it really the food that’s gotten my attention? hmmmm.


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