Italy Part 1: Venice

 

It’s been quite awhile since I have taken time to sit down and write on this little space. Life has been pretty exciting lately and I’ve spent a lot of time tired, reading, traveling or spending time with people and food, but without my camera or inspiration to put things into words.

venice_italy_asimplesliceAbout a month ago, my sweet husband and I decided to stop dreaming of traveling to Italy and just go. Writing those words seems surreal to me, as I could have made so many excuses as to why we shouldn’t. That’s kind of how life gets, isn’t it? We have dreams and aspirations but when it comes down to taking a leap that may lead to uncertainty or staying comfortable, we tend to settle into our lives as they have always been and forget our dreams existed. So when we talked about going and actually traveled to Italy a couple of months later, I felt like I had fallen into a dream.

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It’s hard to find the words to describe our experiences. Special isn’t deep enough and to try to tell all the tiny details that wove themselves together and made our time perfect would take pages. Not only that, but this trip was ours. For the most part, other than meeting a relative for a weekend in Rome, it was just Adam and me. We explored and observed and ate and laughed until our bellies hurt. Those memories are ours, and nobody else really needs to be let into that. And sometimes, I didn’t want to take photos. I would see people missing a beautiful sight or experience because their faces were smooshed to a camera.  We kept turning to each other and saying “let’s just be here–experience this–and remember it in our minds forever”. That’s sometimes better, isn’t it? I took plenty of photos, but honestly could have stopped every few steps and documented the beauty and culture around us–but then I couldn’t hold his hand. Or look in his eyes–and isn’t that the reason we traveled to Italy in the first place? Not to document that we’d been there, but to spend time together?

 

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We first stayed in Venice. This amazing city with roots in the water and boats driving the streets like cars anywhere else. There weren’t cars–you either walked or boated in most of the city–which I absolutely loved. We were greeted with the rain-something we’d missed living in sunny California. And our tiny hotel room was situated in an alley barely wider than our shoulders, up five flights of stairs with one little window that opened to the noise and bustle of the street vendors and tourists below. Each morning we would hunt down a different breakfast spot until we finally found one we loved. Croissants, cappuccino, juice and a slice of bread (carbs, anyone?) was the typical Italian breakfast, we discovered. We sat outside near a tiny bridge next to street of water, watching the boats and people all around us. We spent this time talking about what we should do that day, always giddy because we had a whole day (a whole 17 days!) that we got to do anything we wanted together. We walked through the typical touristy spots (magnificent!), as well as taking the tiny streets as far as we could and letting ourselves get a little lost until we were hungry again-when we would duck into a little restaurant and satisfy our grumbly stomachs. Unfortunately, since Venice is such an attraction for tourists (understandably as it’s a city on water), the food was a bit pricey and very disappointing. I plan to post a recipe inspired by this city, but I would have to make greasy, flavorless pizza or bland bolognese sauce. And nobody wants that. So I’ll save my food inspiration for the next few Italy posts–when an inspired recipe is deserved.

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We were just in time for the preparations for Venice’s annual Carnivale’, so men and women were dressed in the most magnificent costumes with masks and make-up and large dresses. St. Mark’s square was packed with vendors and people in costume and people coming to join the festivities. We’d find them gathering with friends, smoking a cigarette and drinking wine outside corner bars.  Some streets were so packed that we felt like a herd of cattle shoulder to shoulder walking down them, and then we’d turn and get to have street after street all to ourselves. Walking as slowly or quickly as we pleased and stopping to look up at laundry lines and hanging flowers and ladies peeking out their windows at the streets below.

 

 

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We happened to spend time in Venice on a Sunday, and observed a Catholic service in St. Mark’s Bascillica. This church was made up of tiny mosaics in the most detailed artwork on the ceiling. Hearing the choir sing and the priest speak in such a gorgeous setting was inspring. We climbed as high as we could and looked over Venice to the expanses of water and city and churches popping up here and there.

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It was so hard to leave Venice. We felt we lived there, and as we waited at the train station, wondered if the rest of Italy would live up to Venice’s charm.

 

 

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