There is no place on earth like Venice. When we exited the train station, Auntie Stacey asked me “Are you ready?” I responded with “Ready for what?” But she didn’t have to answer. We walked outside and immediately I knew what she meant. We stood at the edge of a canal lined with old stone buildings in front of a sunset backdrop. It was like I’d stepped into a Monet painting. I’m aware of how cheesy that sounds, but that’s what it looked like.
We stayed in a cute little hotel with fancy curtains and shiny bedsheets that made me feel like I was a guest of Marie Antoinette. We were greeted each morning with a yummy continental breakfast with a million varieties of pastries.
Unlike our other destinations, in Venice, we had no plan and no checklist of sites to see. In fact, our favorite activity was to get lost. We found ourselves darting in and out of alleyways. We’d turn a corner and we’d see a stone bridge that could have been hundreds of years old, or windows covered in potted flowers that were every color of the rainbow, or rows and rows of shops decorated with masquerade masks and glass jewelry. It was like an elaborate sightseeing maze.
We tried many different restaurants, and so many varieties of pasta, all of which were amazing. None nearly as mind-blowing as the pizza I had in Florence, but pasta that was good enough to where I told people that “Italian food is amazing.” The most noteworthy was the gnocci we had in the restaurant near our hotel. It was fluffy and delicious. I also got to try my first sip of limoncello. Dear god it was disgusting. I will take pasta over Italian liquor any day.
We got to ride in a water taxi, as well as, you guessed it, a gondola. The romantic peaceful gondola ride I had dreamt of in my childhood was far from realistic. We crammed all seven of us (well, eight if you want to count our less-than-enthusiastic gondolier) into the tiny little boat and we huddled like sardines, trying as hard as we could not to lean over too much so we wouldn’t tip. Matthew, being an average two year old, was flailing and trying to escape the vice grip of his mother’s arms and sticking his hands outside of the boat. The gondolier told him not to do that unless he wanted to lose a finger. This made Auntie and Memere nervous wrecks, even more so than they were before. The tension was thick in the boat. But I of course continued to take happy pictures like nothing was wrong. I was riding in a gondola in Venice goddammit!