The Grand Canal

The Grand Canal

When mom first told me we had only today (7/19/13) in Venice, I was sure it would never be enough. After spending the day there, while there were a number of things we didn’t get to do, we both agreed, it was enough for one day. As a preface, let me say part of the intrigue of every city is the little details that make it unique, and so I am hardly qualified to make a judgment, but Venice wasn’t my favorite.

So, how could we spend the day in the City of Love and not be enthralled? I would say Venice is more aptly named the City of Romance (or Love in the sense of love being blind.) Romance by definition is a focus on the ideal while overlooking the flaws. If you approach Venice in this way, you will love it.

Alpine Sport Hotel

Alpine Sport Hotel

First, I need to clarify something: I don’t like cities. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things I like ABOUT cities; there are—plenty! It just means the things I don’t like about cities far outnumber the things I do. And the things I love and hate in American cities are the same things that struck me in Venice. If you are a person who loves cities, however, Venice is for you.

We left our Alpine Sport Hotel and drove out of the mountains and down into the plains of Italy. After a great deal of fighting with the GPS which kept trying to send us down non-existent roads (Confirming that, as Rosa-Maria said, “She’s a nice lady, but she doesn’t know what she’s talking about sometimes.”) we finally arrived out Hotel Alveri. This is a beautiful hotel in the heart of an industrial area, that my students would call “The Ghetto.”

The ugly side of Venice

The ugly side of Venice

Definitely a contrast from Austria. We finally got checked in and found the bus route into Venice just late enough to miss the walking tour. The walking tour might have made more things about the city appealing, as I hear they point out some amazing attractions, but the transition from hotel to two buses took longer than we intended. So, we decided to explore on our own with a guidebook.

St. Mark's

St. Mark’s

The things I loved about Venice (and American cities) were the incredible architecture, the great history, the many stores, and the ability to watch people.

Venice is simply teeming with gorgeous architecture, amazing scenery, and new adventures around every corner. Most notably, St. Mark’s Cathedral is a wonder to behold. The building alone took 300 years to construct, while the mosaics inside took almost 900 years. Try to wrap your mind around that—It’s incredible. While we opted to forego the inside tour in light of the line and the time, I’m sure it would be an amazing site to see.

One area I thoroughly enjoyed was the Jewish Ghetto Novo. I have always loved anything related to Jewish culture, and I was excited to see what was here. A Jewish friend had told me about the Chabad Lubavitch here, and I was anxious to see it. After a nice man showed us the way to the area, we immediately ran into a Chabad student.

Entrance to the Hebraic Museum

Entrance to the Hebraic Museum

He informed us about Shabbat plans (since it was the Sabbath.) I wanted to try to make it, but mom wasn’t feeling up to it, so we ended up not being able to attend. I was disappointed since it was the 20th Anniversary of the Chabad there, and would have been neat to share with the Chabad I attend at home, but alas, no luck.

I did get to tour the Hebraic Museum which was also an incredible experience. They have an amazing collection of so many things from marriage covenants from the 1500’s to a scroll of Esther from the 9th century. It was an incredible experience. A shop just outside also offered Murano glass and other Jewish gifts.

Glass flowers in window boxes

Glass flowers in window boxes

When we left the Ghetto, we took a Vaparetto out to Murano to see the glass factories. Again, with our uncanny sense of timing (or perhaps because I take too long other places), most things were closed when we arrived, but the displays of glass ware and artistry were incredible. We didn’t have time to make it out to the lace making island, either. Perhaps some of these would have changed our impression.

As to the things I didn’t like about Venice (and about American Cities): there were a ton of people, getting in and out of any store, transportation area, restaurant, etc. took forever, there was a lot of trash and graffiti, and it smelled like fish. Perhaps these things were accentuated by the contrast with Austria. Austria is pristine—at least all the places we stayed were. No litter, no graffiti, no hurry, just tranquil beauty. Cities are bustling by nature, and more people means more trash. I don’t know.

The Beauty of Venice

The Beauty of Venice

I really tried to see in Venice what made people think it was so romantic. It truly is a beautiful city in a lot of ways. Perhaps like most of life, if you just focus on the good, it’s worth all the hassle along the way. And that is the Romance in the truest sense of the word.

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