After traveling in Italy with a university group on a guided art history trip, I took time to add some additional destinations. My second excursion was to Venice.
I traveled on the high-speed train once again, and enjoyed watching the landscape changes from the city of Rome, to the Tuscan countryside, to the waterways of Venice. I was seated in the premium economy section of the train, and I had more room than I anticipated. I stowed my suitcase easily, and had space above my seat for my backpack. There was a table in front of me that could remain small or fold out for a larger space. This made it enjoyable to read, listen to music, or even converse with fellow travelers. The seating was all two by two, and some were one by two, so everyone had a window or aisle. It was easy to get up and walk around to stretch your legs, freshen up, and get a snack or a drink in the dining car. The train was efficient, and the station was right across the canal from my hotel. Not only was it faster to travel from my Rome hotel to my Venice hotel than it would have been by air, but it was definitely a more relaxing and comfortable way to go!
There are many ways to navigate around Venice, but all involve walking or boats. I chose walking for the most part, and the front desk clerk told me that I would get lost but not to worry. Initially I found this to be concerning. He followed up his remark with, “Just follow signs for Piazza Roma or Ferrovia and you will find your way.” That advice to not worry still resonates —it was perfect for me at the time, because I did end up feeling lost a few times. I was pretty sure I would need to ask for directions on my way back from dinner on the first evening. But I did as he instructed and was able to find my way without any issues. The people were friendly and there were plenty of signs with arrows that pointed me in the right direction.
My stay in Venice was short, at only two nights, but experiencing the Grand Canal by boat was by far my favorite activity. The highlight of this experience was that the boat used a motor, as opposed to the iconic gondola ride — this made it a great way to see more given my limited time. We were also able to go into some open waters where you didn’t see any gondolas.
If you are experienced with driving boats, Venice may be your heaven on earth. The water is such an integral part of this area that you can’t ever be far from a canal. It was so impressive to me to experience first-hand all of the logistics that go into the life here. Absolutely everything arrives or departs by boat – people, supplies, laundry, and even garbage! On an early morning walk, I saw large supply boats delivering and receiving laundry for the hotels. Imagining these same routines happening for hundreds of years in the past really made me able to feel and appreciate the history here.
When I reflect on my time in Italy, a rather cheesy summary of my impressions would be, who knew that wondering and wandering could be so wonderful?