Home -> Europe -> Italy -> Travelogue Italy -> 21 May 2004
Friday 21 May, a visit to Venice
The day starts warm and dry, against all expectations. After a quiet start we drive towards the nearby harbour to take the ferry to Venice. It is very busy on the boat and we can just get the last two seats, without any view. After 40 minutes we approach the watertown Venice and go outside on the upperdeck so we can at least take a picture from this distance.We know that Venice is an important popular attraction, but it is only May so we aren't prepared for the ten thousands of people who walk around and block the streets. We are totally surprised by them when we get out near the famous San Marco square.
First we leave the busy quay and find some narrow alleys where there are less people and we see the first gondoliers. But soon we walk into the next masses of tourists and the town is probably more an open-air museum than a living city; but even in the mighty and prosperous past, Venice probably was a favourite tourist attraction.We won't write a tour guide for Venice on this website, nor show the pictures that you find in any travel book. This city is one big monument, showing history everywhere with many famous buildings and places; historical and architectural information can be found in abundance in books and on the internet. We just let us go with the flow, walk through it and admire the many churches, palaces and, naturally, the canals. But there is much more mainland than we had expected, it is not only canals and houses standing in the water. Especially roaming through the narrow streets where there are less tourists is really great. And everywhere there are outdoor bars where we can sit and have a break.
We wander through the town, from San Marco square to the Rialto bridge (to the left the view from the bridge, to the right the bridge from the westbank). From there we take a vaporetta, a sort of city boat which replaces the local bus. Line 1 sails through the Canal Grande, which traverses between the islands of Venice like a snake.
The busyness on the river is great and busses, motorboats and gondolas have sometimes trouble maneuvring on the limited space the river offers. The city is once more so vivid and busy, not becuase of the merchandise and power it once held, but by tourists who want to see this historical and strange town. This way, the past still pays off.
The prosperity and popularity of the town, showing clearly in the prices they ask here for drinks, food and souvenirs, doesn't show in the condition of the town, which is visibly bad. Pollution and other human causes have corroded the pomp and circumstance and there are only a few restauration works going on restore the town to its former splendour. Only the more expensive hotels are well maintained.
All the same Venice is still a fascinating town, by the palaces and buildings and the history behind this once richest city-states ever in Europe, but also because of its situation: islands linked together by bridges, sqaures and dead ends from where you can only travel on by boat. This is really a great place to wander about.
There is a lot of art that can be admired here, but we don't go looking for it, just admire the things we encounter on our journey through the town. To really get to know the city and understand the meaning and the status it had in medieval times and the renaissance, you should stay longer than the one day we now do.
We have been a few times on this famous square, but finally a picture: Piazza San Marco, the basilica and the 99 meters high tower. But the lines before both monuments are so long that we don't want to line up. So we sit down at a terrace and pay a high price for our laziness.Venice is a beautiful town to roam about for one day, even for several days when you have the intention of visiting museums, palaces and churches. We just want to get a taste of Italy in general and therefore only have one day planned for Venice. We are glad we have seen it, but one day has been enough for us.
Our feet are grateful when they finally get some rest and coolness after we have returned to the campsite, we have been walking quite a bit. At night there is some light rain, but the temperature is still nice with 20 degrees. It has been a great day with many new impressions and we are really glad we have seen this famous city, Venice.