I read about Venezia, as they call it in Italy, a few years ago in a book and thought it sounded completely magical (I mean, it was in a book called The Magicians, so go figure). I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much though, so I remembered that the water would probably be dirty and it would be a tourist-overrun place with selfie sticks everywhere. But…wow.Venice completely, completely took me by surprise. The water was an almost tropical shade of green. It was crowded, but everyone was dressed in costumes for Carnevale, so it felt like I was in some strange kind of European Disneyland.
The narrow alleys between the water-governed streets of the canals were filled with people in masks and ornate costumes. People threw confetti freely, at random, and it covered the streets. Lovestruck couples floated by on the overpriced gondolas. Sure, there were quite a few selfie sticks, but I the buildings we were surrounded by were definitely worth taking a selfie with. The amount of detail in a single pillar of some of the old buildings was more detail than I’ve seen in entire buildings in the States.Plus, I went to Venice with a few friends from my Greenheart Program and we stayed with a friend of a friend, which meant we got to do cultural things like buy bus passes to get to the canal-ly part of Venice and go to the grocery store to stock up on essential supplies like wine and ice cream. The second day we were there, we decided to go a different way through the city. Surprisingly not as hungover as we should have been, we crossed the main bridge, turned right, turned right, turned left…and it was a completely changed city. The streets were completely deserted. Somehow, we had left the throngs of tourists behind. We leisurely wandered through chance alleys, crossed over bridges, and gazed in awe at the ancient buildings (all the while munching on the best gelato I’ve ever had). Then we found our way back to the crowds, negotiated with vendors to find the perfect Venetian masks, then got ourselves home. I had to navigate back to Acqui Terme avoiding a train strike, which meant getting home took several (several, several, several) hours, but I didn’t get stranded anywhere in Italy, which is either a positive or a negative depending on how you look at it. First weekend away from Acqui: SUCCESS.