As I sip my cappuccino in the very posh shopping area of the Aeroporto Venezia surrounded by Valentino, Versace and Prada, I’m feeling pretty full. Full from the amount of Italian food I eagerly consumed, full from the touring we accomplished and full from the gratefulness of the mere opportunity to be here, taking advantage of our daughter’s week-long break from school.
Waiting for our KLM departure gate to come on the screen for our flight back to the “Venice of the north,” I feel especially grateful we decided to be expats again in Europe. Our quick one hour and twenty minute flight brought us from one European city of canals and the tallest people in the world to another European city of canals and some of the shortest, with loads of gorgeous shoes in MY size.
When visiting Venice, a city built on water with no roads, half the fun is getting lost or stumbling on that gorgeous photo op or finding that truly memorable meal or eyeing (and buying) the many beautifully designed Italian leather heels you just have to have. Strolling in Venice with no motorized vehicles through twists, turns and one small picturesque bridge after another, I was very conscience of the lack of bikes, bike bells, bike lanes and mad bikers. What a welcome reprieve from the Dutch living experience. Appreciating all that is new and different and fun and tasty is what touring is all about. Venice provides all that and more, in an absolutely gorgeous location filled with fantastically warm and welcoming Italians. (I should note that my husband is of Italian descent and my writing may be biased).
But, when you give up one bother, another one takes its place. While there are no cars, bikes or mopeds in Venice, there are loads of very fast pushy walkers and…. water. The cramped tightness of the walkways filled with crowds of people trying to get across the same bridge as you can be challenging. Even more challenging and a potential impediment to one’s touring schedule in Venice, is flooding. There are always long lines at sites in tourist cities, but a long line during high tide in the rain in the flooded Piazza San Marco on an elevated walkway to see inside St. Mark’s Cathedral or one of many museums in this one location, can definitely make you feel squished (and wet). Venice floods. Often.
Our trip happened to coincide with an astronomical high tide and rain. But, not to fear, Venice knows how to deal with flooding. The expert use of elevated walkways at tourist sites, and eager kiosk sellers of plastic boots to pull up over your shoes (in various assorted colors) complete with non-skid soles, seriously impressed us. We took advantage of purchasing three pairs and had a ball. With rain jackets securely fastened, umbrella in hand and our shoes and legs protected from the elements, we could not be deterred from touring, and marveled at the strangeness of a famous piazza filled entirely with a foot of water.
When crowds (and tides) are high in Venice and you’ve gazed at more naked biblical art than you can imagine, it’s time to escape that madness and eat. On our first day dealing with just this circumstance, we happened upon a small non-descript yet friendly pizzeria and feasted over a two-hour lunch complete with antipasto, pasta, pizza, vino and gelato. Mangia! Delicioso! It is essential to enjoy yourself while traveling, especially when the elements are against you.
After two water-filled days, the clouds parted and the sun shone high for the rest of the week allowing us to finish off our list of must sees: The Doge’s Palace and Bridge of Sighs, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, The Natural History Museum, the Chanel Exhibit at the Ca’ Pesaro, and Beilini’s art in the Church of St. Peter the Martyr on the nearby island of Murano. We were also delighted to enjoy some different Venetian seafood dishes as well as the tried and true Italian pasta entrees we knew would not disappoint. Gastronomically speaking, Venice was a huge success.
As we touched ground at Schipol and rushed in the taxi to get back home to see our dogs and dogsitter, my daughter asked, “What’s for dinner?” My husband took no time in answering, “Pasta!” Why do I feel Venice has followed us back to Amsterdam?