We were in Venice for a few days in early June and now back for three days in late July. What’s changed?
- The crowds are bigger; and
- It’s hotter than hell.
Of course, the first thing you have to add is that Venice is a seriously beautiful city. There’s a reason all these people are here. Every so often you’ll hear of some other city being called “the Venice of <somewhere>.” Not true. Never. This is a one-of-a-kind place.
But the crowds. Wow. Earlier in the morning and in the evening it’s not quite so bad; the biggest cruise ships either haven’t pulled in yet or have left. But in the middle of the day it feels as though you can’t move sometimes. And it doesn’t help that temperatures are breaking into the 90s.
Still, did I mention that it’s beautiful? Beauty enhanced by the fact that our hotel was a 12th century building, right on some smallish canal. And sort of coincidentally, when Dan & Laura & Charlie & Elizabeth went for a gondola ride (Mark and I are way too cool to do something that touristy), they went right below our window. See?
Otherwise there’s not a lot new to say about Venice. The rest of them all went to the Guggenheim Museum in Peggy Guggenheim’s old Grand Canal palace while I went to a park to read. They saw lots of modern art and got to read about how she slept with hundreds and hundreds of people. And buried her many dogs right there, too.
Food is a bit of a challenge in Venice, given that tourists outnumber the locals by 20-to-1, or something like that. One night we went back to a place where Mark & I had gone to in June and liked. It was pricey, but there’s nothing particularly cheap in Venice. This time? Not so good. When we asked about an item on the menu – €7.00 for a plate of olive oil, thinking it must be vegetables or something in olive oil – we were told no, that was the cost of their very special olive oil for dunking bread. Cheap places give it to you for free, but not here. A small bottle of water was €4.00; you can usually get a big bottle for €2.50. And when we’d been waiting for 45 minutes after we’d finished our appetizers and still didn’t have our main courses, they started to explain and justify instead of just apologize, ‘cuz pretty obviously they’d just forgotten about it. Lest we complain too much, though, they did comp us two bottles of wine. So we didn’t complain anymore.
OK, crowds, heat, bad restaurant experiences; that’s too negative. For all that, just walking around Venice for a couple of days is a fabulous experience. Heck, just getting from the train station to near your hotel via the “vaporetto” – the local bus-in-a-boat – on the Grand Canal is a great experience. And there’s great art, of course, too; enough Tintoretto to last a lifetime. It may be a while, though, before I feel the urge to come back and do it again.