140. On the beaten path

I’ve never been much crazy about Venice or Florence, two of the big three when it comes to foreign travel to Italy. Florence is too filled with American college students — I can get that at home — and as far as Venice goes, if I wanted to be trapped in a mob of American vacationers, I’d go to DisneyWorld and save myself the jet lag.

But this trip, it occurred to me that, unlike us, those American travelers would be sane enough to stay home, and we’d have the place to ourselves. So why not give Venice another try?

And this time, I have to confess to being blown away — gobsmacked— by the sheer beauty of the place. We have been blessed with blue skies and crisp fall air and the light on the buildings and the canals gives everything a golden cast I’ve not seen elsewhere. And being here without the crush of American tourists, we’ve had the chance to see the real city at work, as Venetians go about their days.

The Rialto fish market is clearly for natives
Early morning linen delivery to the hotels and restaurants
Gondolas are for more than just tourists
Morning on the Grand Canal

I have always been interested in seeing Burano, a nearby island known for its lace-making, embroidery, and brightly colored houses. I had a wedding gift to buy, and this uncrowded time would be a perfect opportunity for such an excursion. It didn’t disappoint. Sure, it was filled with souvenir shops and wares most likely to have come from China. But I was able to buy my gift in a shop staffed by the lady who made it, or so she claimed, and the houses were straight out of a fairy tale.

The laundry reminds you that these are real homes with real people living inside
In Italy, every purchase is carefully wrapped.

Native Venetians have been fighting against the erosion of its population and its quality of life, brought about by the thousands of day-trippers who disembark from mammoth cruise ships, invade for a few hours, leaving behind their trash but not staying long enough to sustain the local economy. They have recently instituted restrictions on the size of the ships than can dock there, entry fees and limits, a pre-booking system, and a plan to install turnstiles at St. Mark’s Square, beginning in 2022.

The late afternoon light on San Marco

So perhaps we fall into that category, and maybe we got in under the wire. But I’m glad we got to see it at its best.

Sunset over Venice. Unbeatable.

4 thoughts on “140. On the beaten path

  1. Looks wonderful! I love the tradition of small shops that wrap everything carefully. Makes every buy a gift even if you know what’s coming. It’s like a sign of a treasured thing that adds another 25 percent to the value. 😊


  2. Your photos are exquisite. You’ve really captured the beauty and light. So glad you are having another visit – it is very inspiring and making me consider some of my own travel plans!


  3. Oh, Gigi! I’ve been loving living vicariously through you on your travels! I can feel your love for your country. You make me feel like I’m there. Hopefully someday. It’s definitely on my bucket list. You’ll be our Italy travel consultant! The pictures are just lovely!


  4. So, so lucky, Gigi, to see Venice like this. I went 4 years ago and almost cried twice–first by the sheer beauty, as you say; and second, because I thought I couldn’t go back–such crowds and, as it was the end of the season, locals visibly agitated and rude about it. I asked my landlady why the locals didn’t do something to control it and she said, shoulders up in the Italian shrug, that local businessmen were against any controls. So I made my way away from the Canal into the Jewish Quarter and other remote spots and, while not breathtaking, it was charming and wonderful. So I can go back…hurray!


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