Venice is unique. No other town in the world can offer the age and modernism that is Venice today. Other cities have old sections, but Venice in nothing but old buildings. The city leaders make sure of that with the myriad of regulations that must be followed even to renovate the inside of a building. That difficulty is one reason many of the old palaces remain empty. It also helps explain why the city population is declining. From a population of over 200,000 a century ago, fewer than 60,000 live there today. 200,000 more live on the mainland where life is much easier.
Getting from place to place can be fun with the right attitude, but it is also tiring and can be jostling with people. Riding the Vaporetto is almost a necessity as it cuts the time and distance considerably and one is never very far from one of the stops. It can also be expensive at €7 a ride. That cost can be mitigated with a pass but that was still €60 for a week. I certainly made that pay, as I rode the Vaporetto at least 30 times in the week we stayed there.
|Everything comes and goes by water. This is the daily garbage collection.|
|Freight being delivered|
Of course, walking is the best way to learn the city and discover its charms. Many times I left intending to reach some sight with little more than the general direction in mind, often without a map. We did end up with some dead ends that way as the path ended at a canal with no bridge. But with a little back-tracking we would be on our way again. Of course, when your feet and legs need a break from the hard cement pavement, there is always a bar or taverna nearby with outdoor seating where you can rest over a coffee or a glass of wine. And use their toilet.
|Lined up for a gondola ride|
|One of the water taxis|
It was on these walks that we made our discoveries. We just happened to run into La Fenice, the great opera house where we took a self-guided tour that allowed us to sit in the special seats reserved for the most expensive tastes. We also happened to stop in at a church which turned out to be a museum of historic violins.
Every year, Venice hosts a Biennale festival of art. One would think Biennale would mean every other year. Venetians get around this contradiction by having a different focus every year so they can really have the festival annually. The excitement of this festival is that it is hosted in over 40 locations, many of which are free entry. Walk down the street, see a sign, and pop in for a quick look – or for an extended look. Either way, be entertained with some interesting art.
|Canals are always busy|
|One of only four bridges that cross the Grand Canal|
Churches offer the same enticement. Many are free, but even those that charge allow you to get a look from the entrance. Churches in Venice are great art galleries in their own right and show the secular power of the merchants as many of the works include local dignitaries.
|Outside our door|
What I will remember most about our stay in Venice is the joy I felt every time I stepped out of our apartment. We opened the door directly onto a street. Immediately to the left was a popular restaurant with two more only steps away. Across the street was a flower shop and two doors down a wine shop that also sold fruit. Around the corner we found a breakfast bar and less than 100 meters away were three squares where we could sit outside and enjoy watching the people while sipping a glass of wine. Most important, of course, was the gelato store right next door on the right. I’m ready to return to the wonderful city tomorrow.