The tourist buzz about Venice says don't go there. Word on the street: It's an overcrowded, overpriced tourist trap. But when I told my sister and her husband--long-time residents of Italy--that I was skipping it, they were aghast. To say they dragged me there would be an overstatement. Let's just say I took some persuading.
The trip got off to a bad start. Jennifer and Claudio were to pick me up in Urbino, but there was a mix-up about the meeting place, so we ended up waiting for each other in different spots for two hours, and when we finally connected, one of the group was pretty hot under the collar (since you've asked, no, it wasn't me). Then we had a long, hot drive to Venice. We arrived tired, hungry, sweating, and silent. I couldn't help smiling to myself: typical family vacation. As regular readers of this blog know, I hadn't seen my sister for more than a decade when I arrived in Italy. So being a family again is good, even with the warts.
Monday was a new day. We were up and on our way early. We walked all over Venice, toured the Palace of the Doge, and went to the top of the campanile from which Galileo first viewed the sky through his telescope. We crossed the famous Bridge of Sighs, my niece Anna fed the pigeons at St. Mark's Square, and, of course we took a gondola ride. The gorgeous young man with his arm around me is our gondolier.
And believe it or not, I was thoroughly enjoying this gondola ride, although you can't tell it from my expression!
At one point, we stepped into a little store to ask for directions. The shopkeeper's went from my Korean sister to my Eurasian niece to my Italian brother-in-law and to blonde, Scandinavian me. "You're all mixed!" he said. But he said it with such frank, almost childlike curiosity that all we could do was laugh in agreement. All mixed, indeed.
In short: Yes, Venice is most definitely an overcrowded, overpriced tourist trap. But it is a spectacularly historic and beautiful tourist trap and, in my book, totally worth it.
Venice from the campanile at St. Mark's Square.
Causes Jill Jepson Supports
Humane Society of the United States, Defenders of Wildlife, Interational Society for the Protection of Burros and Mustangs, National Wildlife Federation,...