Venice...so I thought that Rome was the key to my heart, but Venice might come in as a tie =) This was my first time to Venice and no words can describe how incredibly beautiful it is! We actually stayed in a small town called Padua, or Padova - which is about 20 minutes outside of the city. At first, I was like oh boy, another lovely city outside of the actual city, but it actually ended up working out so much better. Because Venice becomes a complete ghost town starting at around 9 pm - so it was nice to be able to go out in Padua at night. Padua is a very cute, small Italian town. It had a few different plazas and one particular that was amazing. It was a huge oval green space, with statues lining the exterior. During the day, there was a vegetable and fruit market that lined the streets and the lawn was filled with people who were either playing sports, taking in the sun, or having a picnic - you perfect kodak moment. The town itself was very upscale. I once again wanted to go shopping, but after walking in one store I decided that it was not such a good idea =) My self control this trip has been impeccable.
So, now lets get to the good part...VENICE! The entire city is comprised of small bridges, little canals, hot italian men (completely kidding), cute outdoor cafes, gandolas left and right, more pigeons than should ever exist (and the lovely trails that come along with them), glass shops, alleys that are lined with classic apartment buildings, vivid bright flowers hanging from balconies, and amazing food. Unlike Rome and Florence, Venice is truly unique. The only real transportation around is boats and while there are a lot of tourists - the city has somehow still managed to completely keep its identity and stay true to its Italian roots.
We only went to two museums while in Venice - unlike the 50 billion in the other cities. The Accademia and the Guggenhiem. The Accademia was not my favorite, but definitely worth seeing. The art in the Guggenhiem was not what impressed me - it was the courtyard. My favorite part of the entire place with the Wish Tree. It is exactly what it sounds like - people from all over the world wrote their one wish on a piece of paper, napkin, or cloth and tied it the tree. I wish I could tell you what my wish was, but I can't do that because then it would not come true - lets just it was definitely thought through. The art inside was a little too modern for my taste - I personally thought that a five year old could draw a better picture than most of the works, but hey that is just my opinion. (no offense to modern artists out there - apparently, it is just above my head).
So after the Guggenhiem - we went to San Marco. I am pretty sure that I absolutely hate pigeons now! I think that there were more pigeons than people. This one woman had at least a hundred pigeons crawling on her - I wish I could have been her, always wanted some bird. My OCD and germ-a-phob nature definitely would not let that happen =)
But lets get to my favorite part of the entire trip...guess what it was? ding ding - correct - the gandola ride! It was the first time this entire trip that I felt like I was actually on vacation...no schedule or somewhere to be or 50 people around - just me, 4 other girls, our amazing gandola man, a Venice sunset, a slight breeze, the history of the canals, and the open water - pure heaven. For the 45 minutes of that gandola ride, I was not thinking or focusing on anything else other than the beauty and perfection of God's creation. There was something about the canals, the historical buildings, and the beauty of the silence that made everything seem perfect - exactly the way that God painted it.
Speaking of paintings, I bought my first souvenier in Venice - a beautiful painted picture by Marco. He is an older man, who has been painting for over 35 years. It is a beautiful charcoal/pastel painting of the grand canal. I felt like this picture captured Venice far better than any postcard or picture I could take.
On our free afternoon, we went to Murano - the glass island. We took our own private yaht out to the island - pool boy, buffet, tanning deck ....got ya...we did take a little taxi boat out there though =) The island was really cool but it was not exactly what I was expecting. I prepared myself to spend tons of money there, but surprisingly all I bought was a pizza - guess I lied about never eating another pizza. I kind of felt like everything was extremely over-priced and that every piece and store was identical to the one before. By the time we were finished in Murano, Burano - the lace island - was already closed. So the next time that I go to Venice, I will definitely be going to Burano.
That evening, Clair and I went on another little date. We ate at a delicious, cute (oh yes, cute) Italian restaurant. We sat next to an adorable Australian couple. We talked to them for majority of the dinner and I fell in love with their accents. Direct quote from the man: "what a beautiful pizza that was." Do you think if I start saying beautiful to describe a pizza, it will catch on? After our beautiful dinner, we went to see Vivaldi's Four Seasons. The concert was amazing - we all are still humming the notes. So that is how we ended our trip in Venice -with an amazing concert.