Last Sunday I decided to travel to Venice by myself. Although I had two finals the next day, I figured exploring Venice was a better learning opportunity. But since I wanted to do well on my finals as well, I had to cut the trip short.
The moment I walked out of the train station in Venice, I was in awe. I feel like people always downplay Venice with “it’s dirty” or “you only need one day in it.” Maybe you only need one day to see San Marco’s Square, the major attraction, but I don’t understand why you would only WANT to stay there for just one day. It’s so beautiful, and there are so many side streets to explore!
My first impression of Venice is that it looks exactly like intro scene to a movie that I saw in my Renaissance Theory of Love class, Dangerous Beauty. The introduction scene includes courtesans elaborately dressed, floating in gondolas down the canal, brightly colored buildings along either side of the water. I thought the beauty was an exaggeration, but it wasn’t.
I took the waterbus to San Marco’s square. I explored the shops around the square filled with the beautiful Venetian masks used for Carnevale. The streets were narrow and winding, sometimes you would have to cross a small bridge to get to the next shop. I didn’t go far though, I didn’t want to get lost by myself.
Of course I went in the San Marco church. Naturally, it was gorgeous. There were a lot of mosaic and gold paint decorating the interior; I felt like it went perfectly with the Venetian appreciation of elaborate adornments.
Outside the church are two bronze horses, which are actually replicas. The real ones are inside, and they are perfectly grand. They are believed to be from the Ancient Roman circus that was once set in today’s Istanbul.
I then took the lift up the bell tower adjacent to the church. It was eight euros, a little pricey, but I’m glad I did it. From this point of view, I was able to get a better idea of the size of Venice, the little islands surrounding it, and how the canals work throughout the city.
After, I took the water bus to Murano. I don’t know if I got off at the right Murano stop, but I followed a family of Italian tourists. We (yes, we- I temporarily pretended I had friends) went to a glass-blowing demonstration. I had to listen to the demonstration in Italian because I was the only American and I didn’t want to draw attention to myself when he asked if anyone spoke English. My Italian has gotten better, but my vocabulary doesn’t really extend to glass making.
Anyway, it was amazing to see the skill of the “maestro” and how he was able to craft the glass into an elegant horse. I loved browsing the shop, appreciating the fine art of Murano glass.
By the time I got back to the train station, the sun was setting. There was a very romantic feel, with the pink sky, rose toned buildings, and the glistening, drifting water of the canals.
Venice has a very magical feel, full of culture and art. In a lot of the travelogues that I read this semester, Venice was often described as dead. I have to disagree. I found it very alive with its celebration of their past and present.