Busy, vibrant, and humid. These are the three words I would use to describe the city of Venice. Back in April 2019, I spent four days winding my way through tightly knit streets and crooked bridges, pointing my camera at whatever captured my eye. Even though some of the days were muggled with rain, Venice lived up to the expectations.
My biggest piece of advice when visiting Venice would be to get away from the tourists! Whenever I explore a new city, I prefer to get away from the crowds by veering off the main road to discover some of the less beaten down paths. You’ll find that the more hidden places are also more interesting. They have been left untouched, tucked away from noise pollution, tacky gift shops, and outrageously high prices. Venice is a perfect example of this. Although the city is wildly charming, the most iconic places such as the Basilica di San Marco located in the heart of Piazza San Marco, the Rialto Bridge, the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, or the Ponte dei Sospiri, are littered with ogling eyes and selfie sticks. No matter how beautiful your surroundings may be, elbowing your way past people who are waiting in line to take photos of themselves posing on a bridge somehow makes everything feel less magical…
That being said, none of these things seemed to alter my sweet solo experience. In the mornings, I would post myself in front of a cafe counter for a quick coffee+pastry duo. This helped me prepare myself for the immense amount of walking I had planned for the rest of the day. For lunch, I often stopped at a “boui boui” to grab some fresh homemade pasta or a takeaway sandwich. In the afternoons, I was able to snag free guided tours and Italian language lessons. Luckily for me, some of my friends whom I met on my study abroad program are students at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. They took me under their wing to show me some of their favourite parts of the city. Together we visited the school campus, historical churches, and cheap bars (2 euro wine? Definitely yes!!).
The huddled canals and the disintegrating siding on the edges of colourful walls are all masterfully patchworked together to make Venice a fantasy city. Locals and visitors seamlessly mix together as everyone goes about their own lives. Music, like almost everywhere around Europe, is at the heart of each interaction. Buskers try and lure onlookers while the sound of cabaret-style performances permeates out the windows of expensive restaurants. People sit and drink Aperol spritz and speak in varying languages from around the world. Fun fact: did you know that Aperol spritz was invented in Venice! When it rains, the labyrinth like streets are overrun by vivid umbrellas, which form a temporary rooftop of protection. Here is a look at how I experienced things…
As seen from Rialto Bridge
~with love, from France.