We didn't see everything, but still feel like we gained a good feel for this famous sinking-year-by-year city. There are tiny little canals, tons of bridges, and boats are their transport for food, boxes, bags of cement, fish, UPS, you name it. Gondolas are the fanciful famous rides, but all the boats in and around Venice are their standard form of moving goods and transporting people and food.
There is a road in, and trains. But the boats in all the little canals are busy doing their daily work, rebuilding the city and supplementing tourism.
There is one larger canal that snakes through Venice, and 3 main bridges that pass over it. There are numerous islands just off the coast of Venice---we actually took a boat ride and visited Murano (where we bought souvenir bracelets and Anthony blew glass!).
I have little blurbs describing numerous photos in our VENICE ALBUM. I keep falling in love with taking photos... and what better place to practice than an eye-candy laden city such as Venice?
It was so worth going. We drove two cars from Cinque Terre, driving over mountain passes, paying tolls, testing our ability to drive European style. Keith, Cindy, Sam, Jack, myself, Anthony and Caleb soaked up: San Marco, boat rides on the canal and to Murano, visits to the Rialto Bridge and market, walks about town. Nice dinners out, new gelato flavors, the inside of various churches, countless souvenir shops and stations... picnic lunches, traghetto rides and more.
My goal was to take my measly restaurant-supplied map and get to know the city. Here are a few of my favorite memories from Venice:
- an early morning 2 hour walk around Venice. The city was still quiet, everyone else still in bed. It was beautiful weather, I walked through a huge church and had it all to myself, started to get to know the city streets and snapped some of my favorite-photos-of-Venice.
- our day for 'boat rides.' One day we bought '12 hour boat passes' and managed to grab an early boat near the train station through Venice's main canal. It was amazing to catch the sites from water-side. Later that day we boated to Murano---an island off the coast of Venice. There we saw countless glass shops, windows and glass art. We managed to see one 'glass blowing demonstration' in a smallish shop. The gentleman even let Anthony blow a little blue glass candy for 'keeps.'
- finding my favorites---for some reason this brings me joy. I don't know if it is me imagining a daily routine in a place, where I slide through for my favorite pastry, point out the 'best gelato shop in town' and shop at 'that really nice lady's food market.' Mostly it makes me feel good to go to new cities and discover the best of 'this' and determine my favorite restaurant. I feel like I have found gems in the rough when I find a street laden with boutique stores or a special little coffee shop off the beaten path. My favorite 'finds/experiences/discoveries' in Venice:
- church: my favorite church I found on my early morning walk.
- walking around Rialto food market: farmers markets to me are 'my happy place.' Walking around piles of fresh fruit and vegetables... soothes my soul.
- traghetto: instead of spending hoards of cash on a gondola ride (which can be a nice option too;), you can grab a 'stripped down' gondola used as a canal-bus to bring folks from one side of the canal to the other. I loved discovering this budget-savvy tip.
- the bakery (especially the almond pastries): just around the corner from Piazza San Margherita is this splendid little bakery---I visited daily for my morning coffee and pastry.
- the street near the Guggenheim museum: the street near the Guggenheim was full of beautiful and artistic shops. The boys found recycled art in the windows, aliens aka modern art, upper end jewelry boutiques, scarf shops and coffee shops... a street I would choose to walk again and again.
- the Guggenheim museum: unexpected hurray! I didn't realize Peggy Guggenheim lived part of her life in Venice. Her home-turned-museum had so many breathtaking pieces of art including her daughter Pageen. Pollock, Picasso, Dali and MORE. Art: full.
- San Marco: the cathedral was stunning. a must-visit.
- GROM: seriously impressive, food-mod artisan gelato. This is epic in the minds of touring adolescents... and trailing adults.
- Murano: one of our favorite family memories, Anthony blew glass, we saw scads of glass creatures, objects and art AND I bought my birthday-present-from-James, a handmade glass-beaded bracelet. I love it!
- lunch with the boys. The last day we were there, the boys and I snagged lunch together. We sampled a plate of local seafood (okay, not ALL to our liking... okay, mostly NOT to our liking;). Shared a half liter of vino (yeah---they do serve the kids here; when we return you can ask the boys their opinions on various Chiantis;)) and enjoyed perhaps the most memorable lasagna in Italy to date... and it was eggplant lasagna to boot!