Everyone must have heard the famous saying about Venice: “it’s a place where you will find the perfect combination of culture and romance. ” But is it possible in August? Venice is the home to many important artists, architects, poets and musicians. Not forgetting the fact it is the habitat to some of the world’s most spectacular Palazzos. However, visiting in August is not a very favourable as you might get “trampled on” by crowds of tourists. And the most annoying fact is that they bring along their 3 year olds.
The latter are responsible for crying and making noises which disturbs your appreciation of the beauty of a city like Venice. I had gone to see if it was possible to find the Venice of films and magazines in August. At first sight, it is possible since Venice is the entrance to a new world, a world with no cars, nor roads. Situated in the north eastern coast of Italy, what used to be an independent “Byzantine” province in the 10th century is now one of the most exquisite tourist areas in Italy. Many describe it as the unique floating city, whereas, others remember it as the idealistic film set for love stories.
If you don’t know much about the city you’ll be surprised at your arrival. You’ll have to substitute your taxi rides for the full speed “vaporetto” and your long drives for a romantic “Gondola” journey under a million stars whilst listening to the gondolier sing a passionate verse in his tenor voice. “Where should I go first? ” I asked a local Venetian. He started to give me a list of places to the speed of light. I gave him a puzzled look. “Take a Gondola ride along the Grand Canal from Rialto and get off at San Marco,” he finally said. I was astonished when I reached the dock. There were hundreds of Gondolas parked side by side.
And next to every Gondola stood its gondolier perfectly dressed in white. They looked like angels waiting to take you to the gates of heaven. I walked to the first angel, a charming guy in his early twenties and asked him how much a ride would cost. “200 Euros” he said. Quite an expensive journey to heaven I thought. After a few minutes of discussion I convinced the gondolier to take me for a cheaper bargain. He agreed to take me for 90 euros. Whilst sitting on the luxurious sofa like velvet-red seat of the Gondola I felt like a Queen on her throne. During the journey the gondolier pointed out the most important monuments and buildings.
He seemed to be a friendly person, like most Venetians, and was no doubt good company throughout the journey. The journey started off from Rialto. The first place the gondolier pointed out to me was “The Riva del Vin”. As we can guess from the name it is the dock where wine used to be unloaded a long time ago. In my mind I had a perfect picture of what the place looked like in those days (Strong men whistling romantic tunes whilst unloading wine). At lunch the whole bunch would probably sit on the banks of the Grand Canal and enjoy their lunches just like millions of tourists do nowadays.
As now it’s a place where masses of tourists sit down and relax. As we proceeded through the canal we passed the Palazzo Barzizza with its 13th century facades. Then the gondolier turned right. We were now in a mysterious canal. I started to feel fear as the street was very dark, narrow and silent. “When we turn to the right, look straight in, you will see something amazing. ” I thought I was dreaming when I looked into the street. I could see a perfect Gothic palace with stairs that emerged into the canal, but that’s not all, it had an amazing reflection of it on the canal.
Palazzo Garzoni, what used to be the marvellous home to rich Venetians, is now part of the university. After a short stop to take some photographs we continued along the Grand Canal and made stops at many places such as: Palazzo Mocenigo, Palazzo Grassi, Ca’Rezzonico, Palazzo Capello Milpiero, Academia and many others. Finally, we reached my destination: San Marco. Once in San Marco, my real experience of Venice began. Undoubtedly, the first place I visited was the Palazzo Ducale. It was once the home to Venice’s rulers and the offices of state, the Palace is a triumph of Gothic architecture.
And after having observed the palace from millions of angles, I decided to make a move to Basilica di San Marco. This is a very famous 13th century fai??ade mosaic which shows the body of St. Mark being carried into the Basilica. I continued my anti-clockwise path around the Piazza and reached Museo Correr. Throughout the whole of Italy I hadn’t seen such museum, it really impressed me. The most outstanding work of art was Giovanni Bellini’s “Pieti??” This is one of the many masterpieces found hanging in the galleries. And after a busy day wandering around San Marco, being pushed and shoved by kids all you can think about is food.
You will be able to find from the finest Italian cuisine to the inexpensive fast food restaurants. The latter being the places where the entire package holiday tourists go to. But if you want to enjoy a romantic evening with some fine wine and a bit of music, then you may consider going to “La Caravella”. It has a beautiful setting with a waterside terrace by the Grand Canal. The food is outstanding with imaginative dishes, including things like scampi in champagne and lobster soup. It also includes a wide range of vines to choose from.
But being in Venice you can’t miss out the “Prosecco”, it is a sparkling wine. At the end of the dinner you should give yourself a small treat with some Tiramisu, it’s a wonderful rich blend of coffee-soaked sponge cake and mascarpone. Night life in Venice is rare if you compare it by European standards. Another alternative includes the wonderful concerts which take place in churches throughout the city. However, if you’re feeling lucky then one place you must go to is to the Casino. Who knows you may win enough money to return to Venice in spring and relish the peace of the streets.