Today we walked around Venice for eight hours and were able to cover significant ground. There are a little over 100 islands that make up Venice, clustered into six main districts, but it is all very compact. We only looked at the map twice all day, just walking whichever way looked most interesting, somehow managing to never get lost. I don’t think there is any other place quite like Venice in the world, what with the maze of canals, tourists, and medieval architecture so unique that you encounter impassable alleys and leaning buildings. We enjoyed San Marco Piazza and the Rialto Bridge, but exploring the quieter passages is what I will remember the most about Venice.
If we didn’t venture away from the crowds of tourists Venice attracts, we would have missed the sights of laundry drying out the window, people delivering food to restaurants via boat, and others walking their dogs without leashes and gesturing wildly while talking on their cell phones. We were able to experience all of this plus enjoy the restaurants where “the locals go.” We found the best coffee shop, where we stood sipping our espressos at the bar next to people conversing in Italian. The espresso was perfect – not bitter at all, and we swirled our spoons around the insides of our cups, mimicking our Italian neighbors.
For lunch we found the most wonderful pizza joint, Antico Forno, and although our aching legs would have preferred a sit-down restaurant we made the right choice and followed the locals. We ate our delicious slices wandering alongside gondolas navigating the canals. We will be sad to leave this romantic city, but tomorrow, Florence awaits!