Saturday, August 01, 2015


I must honestly admit I felt pretty "meh" about visiting Venice, especially since I had read that it could be pretty hot and smelly and overcrowded in the summer. I'm so glad we didn't let those negative reviews stop us from going! It was none of those things and turned out to be, by far, our very favorite place we visited in all of Italy! I wish we could have stayed much longer in the charming, labyrinthine city.

We arrived in the afternoon on Thursday, and took the vaporetto (water bus) to our stop near the Rialto Bridge. A quick walk through the market and down a very narrow street brought us to our apartment, which seemed to be at the heart of everything. We settled in and then set out to explore. We loved the little streets, many of which seemed like secrets, and the many shops and cafes scattered throughout the city. We found an interesting book store, with books stacked everywhere, including in wheelbarrows and bathtubs, and even a gondola that sat in the middle of the store. Out back there was a small garden, with a staircase made out of books that led to a viewpoint overlooking a canal. We eventually stopped to eat at a wonderful place, right by one of the canals in a large square near a basilica and a beautiful hospital. And, since our days in Italy were numbered, we stopped for gelato on the way back to our apartment.

Yesterday, we slept in and then lazily made our way to a little sidewalk cafe for coffee and a light breakfast. From there, we tracked down a free music museum that Ruth had read about online. Inside, we found many interesting, beautiful and unique instruments and a room devoted to the process of violin making, while lovely classical music filled our ears. By the time we were finished, it was just about lunch time, so we stopped at a street vendor for several slices of pizza for those in our group who felt the need to eat again. (And those who just wanted to take the opportunity to eat more pizza in Italy). After that, we wandered around some more and eventually found The Doge's Palace and a nice little playground, where we stayed until it was time to head back to our apartment and get ready for dinner. Another ride on the vaporetto got us there fairly quickly, and getting off one stop before we needed to allowed us to take in the bustling shops near the Rialto Bridge. Ruth had been hoping to celebrate her birthday in Venice, but we just couldn't get it to work out. However, we did promise her a belated birthday dinner while in the city, so she chose the place. Osteria alla Staffa was a tiny place, only seating about 20 people, so we had to have a reservation to get in, but it was simply fantastic. The portions were small, though, so a couple of people in our group, who shall remain nameless, felt the need to stop at the pizza stand when we left. And, of course, we ended the evening with our last Italian gelato.

This morning, we got up at the crack of dawn, so we could see the fishmongers and fruit and veggie sellers set up at the market right outside our apartment. The seafood was coming in right off the boats, and some of it, like the crabs, was so fresh that it was trying to run away. The fishmonger kept kept putting this one crab back on the pile, and it kept wandering off. Finally, the man stuck it on the bottom of the pile so that the weight of the other crabs kept it mostly in place. Clay was particularly thrilled by this and laughed and laughed. After taking in all the sights, sounds and smells of the fish market and the adjacent fresh produce market, we popped into a cafe for breakfast. Too soon, we had to pack up our bags and say good-bye to this incredible city and to Italy. This is a place we will definitely try to visit again in the future!

Quintessential Venice

Our apartment was on this tiny street.

A boatload of books

Climbing up for a peek at the canal

A lovely location for dinner

The winged lion is the symbol of Venice,
and our statue lover couldn't pass up the opportunity to pose with it.

The Music Museum

Venice apparently has a long history of violin making.

So much pizza, so little time!

The Doge's Palace

Belated birthday dinner

Some interesting finds at the fish market

The one that nearly got away!

The market was absolutely beautiful,
and this chili tree was stunning!

We were among the first visitors to the fresh market this morning.

We are already looking forward to visiting this city again in the future!

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