Traveling through 8 countries in Europe over the course of more than a month changed my life in more ways than I could have ever dreamed of. Now that I’m home, I think I finally understand why Bilbo Baggins wasn’t satisfied with his comfortable life in Bag End after returning from his adventure with the dwarves of Erebor. Once you’ve tasted all of the beautiful things our wonderful world has to offer, home begins to feel just a bit too small. I had spent all of my youth and college years studying (aside from natural sciences) Spanish, German, French, and a few other languages, and I was finally blessed with an opportunity to speak to so many amazing people in their language. I saw a thousand things I never thought I’d get to see in my lifetime, and did 100 things I’d never even dreamed of. How can I describe the way it felt to finally see these things in person, with my own two eyes and through my camera’s lens, that until then, I’d only stared at longingly in photographs? I’m not sure that I have the words to describe the things I saw during our time in Venice, in any of the languages I’ve studied, but I’ll do my best.
Venice is one of the most wonderful places I’ve ever been, and I already really, truly miss it. My husband Robin and I spent 4 days there, and it just wasn’t enough time! My maternal grandmother is from Italy, and since I was young, I have dreamed of visiting Italy. I know it may seem strange, but looking at these photos makes me feel something akin to sadness, because not only do I have no idea when I’ll be back, but it also reminds me of the entire month my husband and I were able to spend together abroad, and I miss that precious time together. He’s currently in Germany for work (it’s been eleven days already), and I’m lonely without him. If you’ve ever had something so wonderful happen to you, that once it was over you felt like you’d never be the same again, then you may understand why I’ve been reluctant, and yet tremendously excited, to post about the most wonderful trip of my life.
I could go on and on about how incredible Venice was, how beautiful and unique each and every building, canal, and narrow street was. It would be easy to type for days about how much I enjoyed taking pictures of a place I’ve always wanted to visit, and how kind and welcoming the people were. In fact, I don’t doubt that I could write a novel about all of the reasons I miss it, how often I think about visiting again, and how much I miss the month my husband and I were able to be together, just the two of us, on the adventure of a lifetime. Instead, I’ll share some of the photos I took while there (you can find hundreds more, and purchase prints at https://www.anniewearsit.com.portfolio) I hope you’ll enjoy this guide to what we did during our time there, what we ate, where we stayed, of the incredible things there are to see in one of the most breathtaking cities in the world!
How to Get to Venice:
We arrived in Venice via a 14 hour train ride down into Italy through the Swiss Alps, which was something I still have dreams about – it was too beautiful for words! The island city of Venice was breathtaking. From the moment we stepped off the train in Venezia S. Lucia Station, I realized the city was more than I had ever imagined. We had ridden the train over a very long bridge that took us over the Laguna Veneta, or the Venetian Lagoon. We saw so many fish and other creatures swimming and jumping out of the water, almost as if to greet us and welcome us to their home. There were lots of birds, plants, cacti, citrus trees and even butterflies and lizards in Venice, which from an ecological standpoint (I studied environmental and Earth sciences in College) was absolutely fascinating!
What to Eat:
Growing up with an Italian mother, I have always been very familiar with how delicious Italian food was, but eating it canal-side was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. There’s something magical about eating Italian food (my favorite was the “Venetian Spaghetti”, made vegetarian) as boats and gondolas pass by, with the wind from the sea blowing my hair around, the sound of laughter, singing gondoliers, and seagulls filling the air, and my husband’s hand on my waist that I will never forget. Since Venice was our first stop in Italy, we tried gelato (it was so delicious!), crêpes, italian pizza (which is thinner than Americanized pizza), fruits fresh from a farmers market, Italian wines, and many other local delicacies.
There were seemingly endless combinations of doors, shutters, paint colors, terrace and balcony styles and decorative planters brimming with foliage and teeming with life. I could have spent a solid month doing nothing but taking photos of the various buildings in Venice that simultaneously stood apart from one another in their uniqueness and yet blended together to create something truly cohesive and simply Venetian, and I would have failed to capture the diversity that exists on the island. Lemon plants, herbs, cacti and succulents commonly hung down from balconies and verandas, while shutters in every color imaginable framed uncommonly shaped windows. My only regret about our trip was that we didn’t have more time to spend taking pictures!
The hallmark of Venice, gondolas positively filled the canals. Some gondolas were decked out in golds and blacks, others with bright pops of color, fringe, and much more. Gondoliers charged a bit extra to sing a song, and renditions of Dean Martin and Andrea Bocelli floated through the air, making Venice one of the most romantic places I’ve ever been! While we elected to walk along the canals instead of riding through them, I still managed to get some photos of these gorgeous boats. Did you know, Venetian law dictates all gondolas be painted black? This is why gondoliers go to such great lengths to decorate the interiors of their boats to make them stand out and appeal to tourists!
Churches & Cathedrals:
We aren’t Catholic, but that didn’t mean we neglected to visit and enjoy the opulent cathedrals and basilicas that dot the island. My favorite was the church in Piazza San Marco, San Marco’s Basillica. The Basillica, pictured above, framed a giant plazza which took us about 10 minutes to walk from end to end. The inside of the Basillica was adorned with golden tiles and the giant copper horses pictured above were perched on the roof of the church, and sat silently watching the tourists below. This was so incredible to see, because we’d never seen anything like it!
Where We Stayed:
We stayed at the Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal for 2 nights and the Centurion Palace for 2 nights, both of which were perfectly located for exploring the city. The staff at both spoke English which made our stay even more comfortable, and breakfast was provided daily. The staff at both hotels were amazing and helped us navigate the city, gave us advice on what to do and see. Stay tuned for more photos and details from our adventures abroad!
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