As much as I hated to leave our new friends, I really wanted to see Venice, the most romantic city in the world. One of my few regrets of our trip two years ago to Italy was that we hadn’t seen Venice. I thought I probably never would. This time, Matt had work about an hour away from the beautiful city, so I insisted we go.
First we drove from Tuscany towards the coast. Florence was in a complete haze as we passed it and I was glad we I got a photo on the last trip. I had waited over an hour for the sun to shine on the Duomo and got this shot!
Matt sang the Oscar Mayer song as we approached Bologna. So much traffic going the opposite way. We wondered why everyone was leaving Bologna. Our GPS kept warning that we were going to encounter heavy traffic on the other side of the city. I observed the traffic and realized that I didn’t see any pick-up trucks. Were they just an American vehicle? I heard a sound that until that point I had only heard in movies. You know the sound during the car chase in a European city, the siren of the pursuing police car? It sounds just like in the movies!
As we continued on, the landscape changed as well as the trees. No longer were we enjoying the sight of the pine trees that I called pencil trees or the other ones that I had dubbed umbrella trees. There were more deciduous trees here on this flatter land. Our next agriturismo, Villa Selvatico, sits on a lovely farm just outside of the modern city of Podova. We settled into our new home. It’s funny how each one of these places has become home. I guess it’s true that home is where the heart is and since I have my sweet husband with me, I’m at home!
This agriturismo does not serve food. So we opted to stay in one of their apartments that included a kitchen. This meant that we needed to shop for the food to cook. I was quite tired and it was difficult to focus on shopping. What did we need? How many days should we buy for? There were no essentials in the apartment, should we buy things like salt and pepper, or go without? It took us forever to find the eggs. We kept looking for them in refrigerated sections of the grocery store. No eggs? Finally, Matt asked. They don’t keep them cold in the store! We decided to buy just enough food for one dinner for that evening and eggs for all the breakfasts we would spend at this place. Since we planned to go to Venice the next day, Saturday, we knew we would eat while there. I bought some beautiful produce.
Then we walked along the canal next to the farm where we stayed and into the village. Such a lovely place!
As we passed a flower shop, I saw that they had some herbs. Did they have rosemary like Sergio used? They did! So we bought a whole plant of rosemary. I felt that my friend, Sergio, would be proud of me. I had fennel from the supermarket and now rosemary. I could make the drink he made of pouring hot water over fennel leaves and rosemary. Here is the flower shop.
We planned for Venice as we ate our home cooked meal of chicken, beautiful broccoli, fennel and tomatoes. The tour books said to take a vaporetto, or water bus, down the Grand Canal to San Marcos square. That way you could get an overall feel for the place before being overwhelmed by it. With an all day pass for the vaporetto, you could get on and off as much as you wanted. Sounded like a good plan to us and we went to bed and dreamed of the romance of Venice.
Our host at the agriturismo had suggested that we pick up a train to Venice in Dolo. I expected a busy station with lots of people heading to the city, but when we arrived it was desolate.
Where did we buy tickets? We saw a vending machine for tickets and were about to try using it when a woman came our way. I am convinced that God keeps sending angels to help us when we need it. She said, “No, no, no. Not here. There.” She pointed over towards a shopping area. We found a tobacco shop there and they sold us two two-way tickets. This whole train thing was a bit of a worry to me. Had the clerk understood where we wanted to go? Were these the correct tickets? Were we really going to leave our faithful car in an empty parking lot and zip away in a train?
Sure enough, the train took us towards Venice. Here was my first view of the city out of the train window.
We arrived at the Venice train station and I found the other tourists. This place was packed! First on our list of things to do was to find a restroom. After paying the one euro charge each, we were ready to proceed. I saw that they were selling maps in one of the shops in the station. As we picked out the map, I heard someone say in English, “So, where are you from?” An American! Not only that, would you believe he was from Maryland too?! Such a funny things to come all the way over here and meet another Marylander. It was mass confusion as we headed out of the station. So many people. So many ticket offices. We looked at our map and Matt saw that there was a walking path marked out. Our plans went out the door as we headed off to follow the path. One of the main things I want to do in a new place is attempt to take pretty photographs. I had seen so many photos of Venice that were just gorgeous. Would I get any? Would it be difficult in this light of an overcast day? As I followed Matt, I became frustrated. I wanted beautiful buildings by canal waters! Instead, this path was taking us on narrow allies that wound between high, dark buildings. Every once in a while, we would cross a canal and I would shoot a quick picture.
Shops lined some of the streets and these were packed with people.
We saw lovely church buildings and continued on our way towards San Marco square. We found a restaurant right along the canal and we stopped for lunch.
The Rialto bridge was nearby and we joined the crowd of people walking across it. The whole bridge was shops.
We walked down another dark alley that was quite deserted and I thought we were most likely lost when we turned a corner. We both gasped and said, “Wow!” We were on the square.
Such gorgeous buildings! The square was crowded as people waited in long lines to take tours of the basilica.
Matt found a geocache right on the square! But the crowds were starting to wear on us. I wondered what was so romantic about a city that had so many people in it? I also wanted to visit Burano and maybe even Murano, which were other islands next to Venice. This meant figuring out the water bus situation so we headed towards a ticket booth. Matt asked for two tickets to Burano and he was promptly stated a price and he paid. We then wandered around trying to figure out what water bus to get onto. This all sounded so easy in the tour book or on Rick Steve’s travel video. But in reality, it was confusing. No one spoke much English and we knew some Italian words, but not what we needed to figure this out. Even though we enjoy doing our own thing, it’s at times like these that I wished we were just one of those people following a tour guide holding an umbrella in the air. After asking several official looking people, we were made to understand that our tickets were to Murano, not Burano.
Even though this was a disappointment, I decided to make the best of it. Of the two islands, I had settled on wanting to see Burano because I had read an online article about the 30 most beautiful places in the world and Burano was one of them. How sweet it would have been to photograph there! On the other hand, Murano was appealing to me because it is known for its glass. Throughout my years of jewelry making, I had seen many Murano beads. Wouldn’t it be great to buy some right in the town of Murano?
As our waterbus headed away from Venice, I shot a few more photos out the window.
After resting on the boat during the 30 minute ride, I was ready to take on the crowds in Murano. We docked and I looked out. No crowds! This was a great relief. I really enjoyed walking slowly through Murano. Almost every shop displayed gorgeous glass. And finally, I did find a shop that sold just beads and bought a few.
At seven o’clock, Murano began rolling up the sidewalks. Well, not literally, but all the shops were closing. We headed back to Venice. We still needed to make our way back to the train station on the other side of the island of Venice to get a train back to Dolo. It would be a long walk and we were tired. Maybe we would figure out the vaporetto situation and get to the train station with a ride on the grand canal. Then, Matt said the magical words. “Do you want to take a gondola ride?” Do I want to?! YES!
We asked a gondolier how much for a ride to the train station. Sadly, he replied that they only did round trip tours right back to San Marco square where we stood. This would be no help. We started to walk away, when another gondolier came back to say that he would take us to the station. He led us to a beautiful black boat with blue seats. As we settled in I realized that here was the romance of the city.
While snuggled closely to my sweetie, we glided down the Grand Canal.
Our gondolier deftly missed many obstacles, including other gondolas!
He pointed out various buildings including the home of Marco Polo and that of “the Italian sex machine, Cassanova.”
The sun was setting right over the canal and I looked back to take another shot of the Rialto bridge.
The magical boat ride was over and our gondolier took our photo.
It was still a short walk to the train station and we saw the Venice night life.
More confusion was what greeted us at the station. We just missed a train that we think would have stopped in Dolo and instead waited an hour for the next one. We had not had dinner and ate energy bars and tuna that we had with us. I was so glad to see our car waiting all alone at the Dolo station! Maybe after church tomorrow we would go to Burano?
The next day was Easter. It’s hard not being with family and friends on a special day like this. And we really wanted to worship on this glad Resurrection Day. So we joined the throngs of believers that worshipped at the church near our agriturismo.
The service was, of course, in Italian and I didn’t understand a word of it. But it was beautiful and wonderful to worship with the crowd there. We realized that stores would not be open to shop for more groceries and neither were restaurants. Thankfully, we had leftovers from the day before that we enjoyed. The day was gloomy and I was very achy, so we stayed home and rested. A very good decision.
The next day, Monday, Matt worked at the apartment and I edited photos and wrote a blog entry. It rained all day. We had to get groceries or eat out. So we ventured out in the rain. The grocery store that we had shopped at before was closing as we arrived at 1:08 pm. Why were they closing so early? Then I noticed that all the shops were closed. We headed towards another grocery store that we found on the gps. Closed. I saw a place open. Maybe they had some food. This bar did have sandwiches and Matt ate one. There was nothing for me. I planned to just eat an energy bar for lunch. What would we do for supper? Matt asked if anyone in the shop spoke English. One man did and was very patient as he and Matt looked at the gps trying to find a grocery store that would be open. He explained that everything was closed on Easter Monday. I told him that in the USA everything would be open. He said not so here because they were ancient.
We started driving back to the apartment after realizing that nothing was open. That’s when I saw it. A small shop with a door open that said Alimentai above it. That meant grocery store! We stopped and that’s when I realized that it was a Chinese grocery store. No wonder they were open! There was not much we recognized in the store, but there were eggs. So, we’ve had eggs for lunch, for supper, for breakfast, for lunch again…..
So, now I am caught up. Matt is working and I have been writing. I did walk for a bit and heard church bells at noon, from three different towns. I’ll miss this home away from home on the flatlands, but later today we move on to the last stop in Italy…more mountains!
Read the next post about Italy: Italy 7
Don’t miss the other posts about Italy: Italy 1, Italy 2, Italy 3, Italy 4, Italy 5