I took a train to Venice the very next day after I made an exhausting go of Rome. I did give myself a little leeway for rest and took an 11:30AM train, which I definitely needed. The most striking thing about Northeastern Italy is how flat the land gets compared to the rest of Italy. For an hour, I could see on an almost perfectly 180 degree plane. The bridge to Venice was a scenic build up to the beauty of Venice itself.
Right out of the train station you are introduced to one of the dozens of canals that carve up the city. The air has a light hint of the seawater that fills them. Boats and little ferries moved busily along the water front. More illegal vendors lined the first bridge I came on, selling the standard purses and lame novelty items.
I followed a path moving southwest to make the circle I planned to make around the city. I leisurely walked alongside the canals, enjoying the comfortable weather and admiring the floating city. Or sinking rather. The city is visibly sinking and it can be seen alongside the canals in the stairs and residences. Rather than living off more austere food reserves like in Rome, I found a decent priced outdoor restaurant on the canal I was on, and enjoyed a large pizza.
I moved on through some small city streets and the canals moving south more until I hit the Grand Canal, where I crossed into the center of Venice which was flush with eateries and shopping. I came onto St. Mark’s Square, where I received some more Assassins Creed II deja vu from the sights of Saint Mark’s Basilica and the nearby tower which I climbed to get a view of the entire city for a few euro. The view of the square, canals, and seaside are stunning from this vantage point. I then walked along the southern seaside of the city amid the hordes of tourists, took an obligatory selfie on a bridge, and wandered more along the small streets and shops going to another seaside of the city to the North. From here I moved west into the Jewish ghetto and cultural center, which was similar to the feel of the one in Rome. It was smaller, but very clearly in its own separate block from so many centuries ago. After this I was spent on energy, and had made a circular loop around the entire city. I accidentally skipped over the famed site of the Rialto Bridge towards the center of the grand canal, but I wasn’t too bummed. I sat on a dock for 20 minutes off the grand canal to enjoy the sunset. A guy in a small motor boat pulled up alongside me and talked in that charming business guy kind of way that he was willing to give me a tour of the best spots in the city for the small fee of 60 euro, where as the other gondola boat riders would charge 160! If I had someone with me this might have been worth it, but I was running low on money and it simply wasn’t with the time I had anyway. But I thanked him and we talked for a little bit before I went on my way to enjoy some more Gelatto and the view of the canal just outside the train station, where I would catch my train 15 minutes later at around 7 PM.
The great thing about Venice is although it is a very popular tourist destination, the entire city is a sight all on its own, and in between are the few main attractions that can be easily tackled. With such an exhausting day before, I took my time, sat a lot on the canals and docks, and just relaxed. Venice was the perfect city for that relaxation. It has an incredibly close and romantic atmosphere that is entirely unique to anywhere I had been. It was like a cozier Amsterdam, (basically a Venice of the North), with no cars or even bicycles. Just walking people and loads of boats which are an addition to the sights rather than an eye sore. When I return to Italy some day, Venice would be the place I would like to visit again most for its ease of access and affordability compared to the southern paradises I visited. I highly recommend Venice for anyone looking for stops in Italy while in Europe.