InDestinations, Europe, Italy

I Didn’t Like Venice, Italy, but I Think I Still Love It

At the beginning of the year, I created a wallpaper collage for my computer. I selected my goals and aspirations for the next twelve months because I felt like having them in front of me every day would act as a simple yet thoughtful way to keep feeling motivated and inspired. Among them:

  • A couple swing dancing (since I love dancing)
  • Colorful fruits and vegetables (the body is a temple)
  • Joshua Tree National Park (where I got married this August)
  • An effortlessly cool girl with perfectly pastel pink hair (it is my ideal shade and I am always trying to replicate it with every dye job)
  • A journal (simply to represent writing more, which I have)
  • The Banksy quote, “If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit.” (which I haven’t)

And of course, a photo to represent my desire to travel to Italy—and what better photo than one of the most quintessentially Italian city of all? Venice. I found a slightly too saturated photo of an emerald green waterway flanked by old brick buildings. Pots of pink flowers hung from windows and in the distance a bridge married one side to the other. An ornate, empty gondola floated at the foreground as if to invite me into it.

 

When in Venice, plan to stop at every turn to take photos.

I had romanticized this city for years, and when telling someone, “I want to travel to Italy,” what I actually meant was, “I want to travel to Venice.” I had seen too many of those photos…the ones of lovely walkways and stairs that lead you right to a gondola, bridges oozing with history which spread out across the canals, and the golden light of the moon twinkling in the water. There was simply no question that I would like Venice—I knew I was going to love it.

The view from Ponte della Paglia.

When people ask me for travel advice, one of the best bits I can offer is: travel without expectations. Go somewhere without a particular goal in mind and do not allow your imagination to conjure up ideas of what it will be like; instead, just live it.

I did not like Venice like I had always imagined I would because I did not heed my own advice. Instead of a genuine Italian experience, I felt as though I were in the “Little Italy” section of an amusement park. On more than one occasion, I thought I was getting off the beaten track, navigating those narrow, damp passageways simply following my gut on where to go. Then I would turn a corner and find myself back at the Rialto Bridge, or at a restaurant where the primary menu was in English, or wandering past a goddamn Burger King. Any Italian person I met in Venice would shake their head in disgust when I asked if they lived in the city proper. “Oh, no,” they’d quickly say. “No one lives in Venice.”

Posing over waterways.

Views of Venice.

And yet, I still look at my photos from this charming place and swoon. I forget the crowds of people and the Disneyland vibe, and I remember what I enjoyed most about the city: turning corners without any idea what might be around the next one. It certainly wasn’t what I’d expected, but Venice was my first stop of a marvelous month-long honeymoon and will keep a little place in my heart no matter what.

No, Venice may not be perfect, but what is? It’s a glorious maze of a city that’s ideal for wandering and meandering and getting lost in the best way, as best you can.

Even the most run-down buildings look beautiful.

Water, right up to the doorstep.

The view from T Fondaco dei Tedeschi by DFS (possibly the best view in the city).

The Grand Canal at night.

You may also like