Venice is literally laced with streets of water. Boats are docked behind homes like cars in driveways… very expensive cars at that! There are bridges, small sidewalks and alleys for those who choose to explore Venice by foot. However, the best and most romantic way would of course be in a gondola with one’s true love as the gondolier maneuvers his way through the watery lanes of the city while taking in the city’s vintage Italian appeal and of course the beautiful European architecture along the shores. Well, that wasn’t the case for my colleagues and I. We took option A: explalking. We left the gondolas for the love birds and hit the Venetian streets by foot… at least the areas that were available for us to walk on.
There were so many alleys, winding streets and mini bridges taking us over smaller canals of water between buildings and homes and through the city. At times I felt like I was in a maze! The city looked like how it did in paintings and movies that I have seen. Boats moving back and forth through the canals, gondoliers slowly rowing their gondolas dressed in their infamous striped shirts, except it was winter time now so they had winter coats on but each one made sure they had their jackets open so you could see the shirt. There were the Italian styled homes on the water, with shuttered windows lined with elongated flower pots and laundry hanging outside of the windows as if they were traditional Venetian decoration. Though we visited a couple of days after new year’s day and it was not warm and sunny, the city still exuded with its Euro Italian flair.
Then there were the masks! They were in almost every store and souvenir shop window. They were all so beautiful and intricate in design and gave the city a mysterious feel. We were told the most beautiful of masks are seen during the Carnival of Venice held annually before Lent. We missed that event by a month! **sadface**
The history of the Venetian mask dates back to the Renaissance and has been a consistent image and representation of Venetian culture. You can read more about the Carnival of Venice and the history of the masks here. Since I wasn’t able to attend the Carnival here is a video that shows how beautiful the ornate masks and costumes are during the Carnival of Venice:
As we made our way through the streets of Venice we found ourselves on the Ponte dell’Accademia bridge over the Grand Canal where you will find hundreds of tourists and hundreds of padlocks! They are called “love locks” and lovers by them from local street vendors, put their names on them and then lock them on the bridge, throwing the keys into the canal thereafter.
We were also able to reach Piazza San Marco, the principal public square in Venice. There Saint Mark’s Basilica was under construction. I was able to get a shot of the front of a church, which I believe is called San Moise Church. It’s similar to the Baroque look of the Duomo of Milan, Italy but of course the structure in Milan is much more detailed and larger than this one.
After hours of walking and taking pictures, my colleagues and I found a small, local restaurant and had an authentic Italian dinner and here is where I tasted Italian hot chocolate for the first time. It was the best hot chocolate I have ever tasted! It was thicker than the hot chocolate I was used to at home. If I could best describe it, it tasted like liquid Godiva milk chocolate topped with whip cream. YUMMY!