Venice is a beautiful city, with incredible culture, art and architecture, a colorful history and a thriving tourism industry with plentiful & eclectic restaurants. Unfortunately, Venice is in some ways a victim of its own success, as the positives are somewhat offset by the sheer number of people that visit daily.
On the day of our arrival there were 4 cruise ships in port, adding more than 10,000 “Barbarians” to the thousands of land-based tourists crowding the already busy bridges and walkways. And I have never seen more selfie sticks in one place in my entire life! St. Mark’s Square is the Center of the Universe in Venice, so that is where everyone heads. And since there are only so many ways to get from one part of the city to another, things could get pretty hectic at times.
Kathy & I arrived the day before our organized tour, so we had almost two full days to explore on our own. We took advantage of that time by getting up and out early, so we could enjoy some of the more popular sites and sights before they became overcrowded. That proved to be a good strategy, then we moved to the less-populated areas during the middle of the day. We spent an enormous amount of time walking and logged many miles!
St. Mark’s Basilica was a highlight of Venice. We knew that we wanted to spend time beyond the limited time we would have on our organized tour, so we attended Mass on Sunday morning in order to sit and enjoy the service in the midst of all that beautiful art and architecture. The mass we attended included music, which not all of them do. It was done in Italian and Latin, and there was a visiting children’s choir that performed, making the whole event one to remember. Photography was not allowed in the church, so we will suffice with our memories of the place.
Photographically, Venice is a treasure trove of little scenes, with leading lines and angles everywhere. I had to take the “cliché” shot of the moving gondolas with the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore in the background across the water. But there was much more than the cliché to be found there. The canals and alleyways, especially in the mornings, were great places to explore and photograph. During the day, it was all about the people, so that’s what I photographed – pictures of people taking pictures!
The food in Venice was very good, and we did our best to sample a cross section of the offerings! One has to be a little careful to identify the authentic, locally-owned Italian restaurants s opposed to the “tourist trap” restaurants, but our Tauck tour director did a good job with recommendations and suggestions which helped a lot. With Venice being on the water, there is plenty of seafood and lots of places served very good pizza. Wine was plentiful and very inexpensive, so that even the “house” wines in most places were very good. Kathy discovered the Aperol Spritz, which is a combination of Aperol (an Italian apéritif made of gentian, rhubarb, and cinchona, among other ingredients) and Prosecco, a sparkling wine. Our home liquor cabinet is now stocked with Aperol, plus Campari and Vermouth Rosso for making Negronis, my new favorite!
Our hotel in Venice was the Baglioni Hotel Luna, which is situated literally steps from St. Mark’s Square. I could be out the door and into the square in less than 30 seconds, so it turned out to be an excellent location for early morning and evening photographic excursions. Venice turned out to be the only city that I was able to spend much time doing “serious” photography, although my future posts will show that I did quite a lot more photography in other locations as well!