Ciao! Today marks the first of many blogs that I will share likely over the next two years, as time permits, from my 25 year wedding anniversary trip to Italy and Greece. My husband and I went in May and it was our first time traveling to Europe. I gotta say, I’m smitten! I’ve fallen hard for the stories that unfolded along the cobblestone paths I journeyed, that beckoned me into thousands and thousands of years worth of stories of old. The love affair still has a hold on me months later. I’m eager to explore more. My challenge now is to convey the experience so you can share in it as well.
I’ve been wrestling with how best to share the images that now mean so much to me personally. I don’t want this to just be a pretty collection you scroll through because it just wouldn’t do these places justice. Instead, I want to give you a sense of the culture, the antiquity, the smells, the nuances that make this culture so unique. I’ll highlight the famous sites in Venice, like the Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco, but more important to me is the story that unfolds in the midst of these settings. I want you to see the life rooted in centuries of tradition that lies beyond the tourism, as I feel I did by just observing. So far I’ve managed to eek out time to work on the first two days of the 2 week trip, so nighttime Venice is featured first and she is my favorite! Why does Venice speak to my soul? I think because I crave silence. Always have and always will. Likely has something to do with my racing mind which just does not stop until I fall sleep. Venice was a breath of fresh air because, away from the tourist zones, it has a settled peace about it. At first I couldn’t place the odd sensation I was having as I walked through Venice. I kept thinking, “this feels surreal to me.” Then I placed it, it felt like I was walking on an abandoned movie set in Hollywood because of the absence of cluttering noise. I’ve never been anywhere that did not have roads or cars driving around. I never considered how much noise the simple act of driving puts into the air. The utter peace and quiet and stillness I crave was found walking the streets of Venice at 1:00 a.m. Certainly, there were very crowded and bustling areas in Venice, but what I sought were the less touristy spots where life unfolded at its natural pace. Venetians crave this as well, in fact Venice has lost many of its natives because cost of living has grown so high; many have been forced to move away as tourism dominates the economy.
Our first night in Venice we went to dinner alongside the Rialto Bridge and as often happens, it rained and the canal overflowed into the restaurant space we were dining. Women at the table next to us spoke to us in Italian, attempting to show us where we could put our feet up on the table supports to avoid getting soaked. They were helping out a pair of newbies! Before long the rain really started coming down, pouring off the canopies in giant gushes. Everyone was getting wet and then the most uncanny thing happened. Everyone started laughing, just cracking up. No one was angry, no one was demanding the restaurant make reparations for wet clothes or shoes, they just rolled with it, as we did. We went to dinner at 10:00 pm and stayed for 2 hours just enjoying the setting that unfolded before us. Who would have ever thought dinner would be enhanced by leaving with soggy feet?!
The waiters put on their waders and continued to care for us with smiles and jokes. One offered to carry me out of the several inches of water but my husband assured him he was on the job! Then the waiter motioned for me to jump on his dolly and he zoomed me around the corridor, which had me cracking up even more. They hammed it up for photos, which I was on the look out for the entire trip, because as you can see on the table, everywhere I went my trusty Spider holster accompanied me, still going strong after 7 years!
Chris and I wandered along the canal, in the rain, just exploring and soaking in the sights until the wee hours of the morning, long after most tourist were down for the count getting recharged for the next day’s exploration.
Before I left on the trip I asked one of my Italian vendors, Cristina, if she had any advice for me. She told me how much she loved Venice and encouraged me to ‘go get lost wandering around the back alley ways, it is magical’. I was a little skeptical. In my experience, getting lost on back alleyways is a recipe for disaster/demise. But it was very different in Venice. We felt very comfortable roaming the streets into the wee hours of the morning. The only crime we saw was entirely related to pick pocketing. There were a few times it appeared I was being cased for my gear which made me uneasy; however, our tour guides were always very aware and alerted us to the pick pockets who roamed freely and abundantly in the crowded spots. The awesome group we toured with also had my back and formed protective circles around me when they noticed anything odd!
Iconically Venice is most known for the gondolier rides through the canals. To the Venetians, this is just like hopping in the car to go to the store. It is their primary means of transportation around the city because there are no roads or cars. It was fascinating to see how daily life operated apart from these staples we are so accustomed to. (that’ll be featured more in a future blog)
Piazza San Marco or St. Mark’s Square is the main public square of Venice. Napolean is alleged to have called this area ‘the drawing room of Europe.’ It’s the hub of their social, religious and political activity for Venetians. St. Mark’s Basilica is featured below and to the the right is the bell tower, Campanile. The same rain that flooded our path along the canal, also flooded the piazza which is just above sea level so it’s a regular occurrence when the winds blow in off the Adriatic or there’s a high tide. I was enthralled by this night time visual feast!
We enjoyed our time in the piazza and made some friends along the way who were also photographers. We talked shop in the piazza then we shared a meal together as we compared the cultures of America and Spain. We took the opportunity to include ourselves in this iconic place on our 2nd evening in Venice.
My favorite gaffer who carried gear along with me all over Italy and Greece! 😉
I hope this given you a little glimpse into why I loved Venice so much. Daytime Venice will be featured hopefully this winter some time! These travel photos are available for sale, signed, at our portrait pricing. If you are interested, my studio manager is happy to chat with you if you click here to contact her. Arrivederci!