Travel in Italy: If Venice Is a Fish, Just Call Me Dory

Benvignùo and greetings from Venice! 🇮🇹

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So many boats in Venice…it was quite the OAR-deal! 😉

Did you know that Venice is actually the shape of a fish as seen from above? 🐟

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aerial view of Venice courtesy of Google images

This shape seems appropriate for Venice- a city made up of 118 small islands, separated by canals, and linked by over 400 bridges, floating on the Venetian Lagoon. 🌊

DSC_2815Venice was not a planned city, and its layout is far from an easily navigable grid.

DSC_2797This is because Venice was initially constructed as a temporary settlement for refugees! 😮

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refugee street art in Venice

In 500 AD, northern Italians fled here in order to escape barbaric rulers whom were ravaging Italy after the fall of the Roman Empire. Although initially vulnerable and seeking solace, their perseverance and survival mentality made them a force to be reckoned with. Venice soon became it’s own country, and both an economic and military powerhouse for the next one thousand years! 💪

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Banksy refugee street art in Venice

Today, the patron of Venice is the lion, which represents magnificence and power. 🦁

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Their wealth and prosperity reminds me a lot of the Catalan community in Spain. Just like the Catalans, the Venetians speak their own language, a mix of Italian and Spanish, and maintain a unique culture that is distinct from the rest of Italy. 🎆

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woman in Venice dressed in a Carnival mask, which is a religious celebration that occurs here every year in February
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typical bird mask for Carnival

Now, the inhabitants initially just had dirt paths here, and constructed the buildings as they collected materials. It wasn’t until years later, when they decided to make this their permanent residence, that they drove wooden stakes into the sandy bottom of the lagoon, followed by wooden platforms, and finally permanent structures.

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Why Wood? 

Since these wooden structures are built underwater, microorganisms lack the necessary oxygen to survive there and thus the wood will not decay or rot. As well, the constant flow of salt water washing over the wood has petrified it over time, and it’s now as strong as stone. 

DSC_2705That being said, the fluctuating groundwater below the city and elevating sea levels means that the city has slowly been sinking since its construction. In only 100 years, the city has sunk nine inches. Experts warn, that if the effects of global warming continue, this sinking city may soon cease to exist. 😢

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Side Note: every year, starting in October, there is an a flooding season called Acqua Alta, or ‘high tide’. One unique place to visit in Venice is this book store, Libreria Acqua Alta, where the boats are all packed into canoes to protect them. 📚
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too many people in the bookstore to snap a photo, so I found this picture on Google images

Now, in keeping with the fish theme, if Venice is a fish, you can just call me Dory. 😂

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perpetually confused

There are now almost 3,000 narrow, winding streets connecting the city, which is enough to leave anyone confused on where to turn next. As well, most people get dropped off in the head of this fish, where the bus, train and cruise port are located. 🚆

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church next to the train station
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view from Scalzi Bridge next to the train station

From there, you’ll have to navigate through the Venetian maze to get to the belly of the fish, where you’ll find all the major attractions. 🤯

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Getting Around:

To get from place to place in the city, you can either walk or take a boat. 🚣‍♀️

DSC_2749The boat, or water bus, costs 9 dollars and is only good for 75 minutes of transit. 🛥️

DSC_2743DSC_2736The gondolas are a more scenic and touristic option, but it normally costs between 90 and 140 USD for only a short 35-minute ride!💰

DSC_2779Gondolas are all painted black, which is a law to deter the gondoliers from competing with one another for the most decorative boat. 🖤

DSC_2733As well, becoming a gondolier is a prized occupation. Only 400 licenses are given out, you must be a Venetian, and you must also undergo 6-12 months of training.📚

DSC_2732On the flip side, the whole thing looked the opposite of peaceful or romantic as loads of boats crammed next to one another in the dirty water.

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The sewer system here is a work in progress as well, and much of the raw sewage is dumped into the water. 🏊‍♀️

DSC_2710I even caught many of the uninterested drivers texting and rowing as they carted their clientele down the canal.DSC_2754In general, it’s palpable that the residents are not too fond of the tourists.

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street art in Venice depicting foreign tourists

I mean, it made me feel a little sad. Many people, like myself, use Venice as stopover. They spend the day dragging their luggage around the city, rattling their carry-ons over the cobblestone, snapping loads of photos, and leaving without getting to know the real people of this city.

DSC_2752 As the perfect example, after a tourist boom in 2008, when rent prices skyrocketed and the population dropped down to only 60,000 locals, the residents decided to have public funeral for the death of the city that they once loved. 😔

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What can you do to help?

As a tourist, you can support local businesses.

DSC_2717This June, Venice launched Fairbnb, a vacation rental platform that connects tourists and locals. This program not only directly benefits the local host, 50% of the revenue is used for projects, which support the local community.

DSC_2825Anyway, now back to navigation. As I didn’t want to pay for the pricey boats, I chose to walk around the city instead.

DSC_2734I quickly learned that many of the bridges and streets lead to dead ends, and I was often turning around and retracing my steps. 😕

DSC_2735You can’t be all Hansel and Gretel either, and leave a trail of bread crumbs to help yourself navigate, since feeding pigeons here will result in a hefty fine. 😂 🍞🦜

DSC_2715Also, WiFi for navigation was nearly impossible, as I learned later on that you had to buy an internet package online.

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obviously buy this package before arrival, since you’ll need internet to buy internet 😂

There are occasional directional signs, which keep giving you hope that you’re headed in the right direction, but they’re few and far between.

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towards Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s

Basically, after around 30 minutes of feeling dazed and confused, I decided to throw in the towel and forget trying to navigate. I decided to put down my map and get wonderfully lost. ❤️

DSC_2801 (2)DSC_2799Honestly, this seemed to be the best solution, as having no particular destination took away all the stress and you could you just fully take in all of the city’s beauty.

DSC_2713DSC_2796DSC_2804DSC_2814DSC_2690DSC_2789DSC_2701DSC_2707DSC_2730DSC_2696DSC_2773Venice is oozing with charm along every street, and sometimes not having a planned route leaves you finding the most beautiful discoveries.

finding-dory-quote-2Also, looking down at your map all the time will keep you from looking up, like at this quirky balcony I found covered in Easter eggs.

DSC_2712Or I might have easily walked by these silly items for sale.

DSC_2772Fashion now-a-days is beyond me! 😂

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Sorry, for that price, I think I’ll protect my eyes with my actual hands 🙈

Anyway, I did manage to see most of the must-see sights, including the Rialto Market, the Bridge of Sighs, St. Mark’s Basilica, and Doge’s Palace, among many other historic landmarks.

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view of the Grand Canal from St. Mark’s Square

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This bridge, aptly named the Bridge of Sighs, connects Doge’s Palace (the courthouse) and the prison, and convicts would have to walk this pathway before ending up in jail, sighing in sadness all the way. 😞

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peaches and homemade pasta at the Rialto Market

On top of that, I unintentionally wandered upon this quirky art gallery, Bel-Air Fine Art.

IMG-9258IMG-9256And don’t these statues look familiar from my Colombia post? 🇨🇴

DSC_2795Yes, Fernando Botero has brought his art to Venice! 😍

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What to Do and Buy:

There are lots of museums to visit in Venice, but I chose to just eat, drink, and people-watch during my time here. 📷

DSC_2811It was 90 degrees and sunny, and I had to take many breaks in piazzas, or public squares, to cool off and refuel after carting around this heavy luggage. 🧳😅

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Brew with a view!🍺

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Grabbed a ‘bianca’, which is a wheat beer. Terrifico! 👍

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Highlights of my day included craft beer, arancino de riso, or fried rice balls stuffed with mozzarella, and a slice of veggie pizza with eggplant. 🍕

DSC_2757IMG-9212IMG-9200They also had lots of pastries, candies and gelato. 🍦

DSC_2816DSC_2721DSC_2829DSC_2728DSC_2727I was really enjoying this new Dory persona I had taken on.

09570ea18cd5462cf236120ad587bbc9d940238ddc39752aad5214716679e9ecSide Note: You may have to walk and eat though, as tourists are discouraged from sitting and eating on the waterfront. 🚫

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Getting in and Luggage Storage:

I flew into Venice from Malta with Ryanair for only 30 bucks.

IMG-9164I arrived at Treviso airport, which is further away than the more popular Marco Polo airport.

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Treviso, Italy

My options into the city were either a direct bus for 12 Euros or a combo local bus and train for around 4 Euros and 80 cents. Of course, I chose the latter, which meant more money for food and drink.

DSC_2674As for luggage, I had two heavy backpacks with me, and I had considered putting them in a storage facility, but honestly, I’m glad I didn’t. I’m not sure if I ever would have found them again! 😂

When to Visit:

For me, Venice was an ultra nightmare from 1 to 4 PM. There were so many tourists and the sun was relentless.

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Tourists seem more prevalent than mosquitoes here during summer! Hah!

During the summer, I would suggest visiting after 6 PM or before 9 AM. During those times, the weather was more tolerable, most of the tourists had left, and the lighting was just lovely! While visiting, I met these two Canadian girls that had just finished up a working holiday in Dublin. We spent the evening sitting along side of the canal, watching the sun go down.🌅

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This definitely ended my stay in Venice on a high note. 🧡

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postcard perfect!

Afterwards, I took a bus in the middle of the night to Ljubljana, Slovenia. Country number 66, here I come! 🙌

11 thoughts on “Travel in Italy: If Venice Is a Fish, Just Call Me Dory

  1. Hi Megan:
    Walking this tour with you brought back many great memories that Sonny and I enjoyed after spending 4 extra days in Venice……Glad u enjoyed it too….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What an interesting post, a reminder that Italy has only recently in history been a country. I have not been, but if I did get to visit I would not arrive on a cruise ship. I love walking round cities, but I would definitely get lost in Venice and never see my hotel again!

    Liked by 1 person

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