Arriving in Venice

The more you travel you will find that most major cities have something about them that makes them unique. Not just a certain attraction, building or monument, but an overall feeling, an atmosphere that encompasses the architecture, the people and the culture. In some cities the differences from other places are subtle. Not so with Venice. It is as unique a city as they come.

Sara and I started our whirlwind tour of Italy in 2003 with Venice. If you are a frequent traveler and are used to a typical tourist destination, throw all of your 'training' out the window when you arrive in Venice. First, there are no cars, no buses, no trains, subways, or taxis. The city is not very large, so you can walk almost anywhere, but if you do need to travel from one end to the other, you take a vaporetto (water taxi) down the Grand Canal. Boats are the only motorized mass transit in the city. The people are very friendly and helpful, but you will definitely need a good map to get around, because the streets are a maze of sidewalks, bridges and canals. There are some must visits: St. Mark's Square, the Bridge of Sighs, the Rialto Bridge, etc. There are also some not as well known haunts. We ate dinner in a restaurant that was famous as a favorite establishment frequented by Casanova himself. The rumor is that he preferred it because of the easily accessible back door which allowed him to escape his lovers' angry husbands. Our main source of tour info was from the Rick Steves Italy Guidebook. We were able to use it to find the aforementioned restaurant as well as our lodging, the very affordable Palazzo Zenobio, built in the 1600's, giving a very authentic experience. While the history of Venice is not as famous as that of Rome, nor the art as that of Florence, Venice has more than enough of both to entice both the amateur historian and the amateur artist. A visit to Italy is surely not complete without a trip to Venice. Must See: St. Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco) - feed the pigeons and they will climb all over you (then go shower).

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