Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Venezia and the Great Divide

The mere mention causes dissent among travelers far and wide and can even incite the use horrific and dramatic adjectives: smelly, crowded, awful. For those on the other side of the Great Divide, the adjectives are soft and romantic: lovely, quaint, unusual. Venice. It's the city you either love or hate. There is no middle-road, and there is no question where my flag is planted. I love it.

I went to Venice today with my parents, and just as we stepped out from the train station, vivid colors, hollers from gondoliers, and the smell of salt water washed over us. Sensory overload becomes status quo in this weird and decadent city.

Much like my other visits to the "City Without Cars" (thank you, God), my parents and I had no real plan for Venice. A water taxi through the Grand Canal to Piazza San Marco, and then we would figure it out from there. No maps needed... you can't really be lost on a small island. So we wandered. Through the narrow streets, over the bridges, into shops showing off their finest Murano glass, gelateries and one Osteria. No watches, no maps, no horns. It was glorious. The sun was shining... and the colors dazzled us from every corner and alley: turquoise, deep reds, and rich cocoas.

And yes some of those negative adjectives are, in deed, true. We spent $16 on three Coke Lights at lunch (always check the price before you order). The Rialto Bridge is crowded with over-priced sales carts. But tourism is part of this city... this whole country, really. And it doesn't bother me. From what I can tell Venice has ALWAYS been a touristy city, and there is a reason why people visit Venice for a vacation... it's wonderful.

So now you know I feel about Venice. What do you think?