Venice or Venezia in Italian has had many names in the past Queen of the Adriatic Sea, City of Light, City of Bridges, City of Water, Dominante meaning Dominant or Serenissima meaning The Most Serene. Whatever you called it, one thing is for sure, Venice is a city which will steal your heart at first glance. It is simply a place which exudes mystery, history, extravaganza and beauty. I must be honest, I was skeptical going there. My mother visited years ago and she had nothing good to say. She said to me that canals smelled so bad that no architecture or art could make it better. But of course, many years passes and as I came into the city prepared for unbearable smells I was surprised, nothing smelled! Rest of my visit was magnificent, so I bring you six places to see, visit, things to do and food to eat.
San Barnaba di Venezia or Indiana Jones library
Yes, you read it correctly, that Indiana Jones. Church San Barnaba was featured in movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), although only its exterior where it served as imaginary library. It was really fun to stand where Harrison Ford was seen emerging out of hole and wandering are those underground tunnels maybe real? And could there be any treasure right beneath our feet? Joking aside this church was founded in 809 and later burnt down and rebuilt and has a rich history behind itself which really worth reading about if you are ever there.
St Mark’ Basilica
This is also one of the churches with such a long history. Building began in 828 and finished in 832, even though later on there were many modifications and it became the way it looks today in 1500s. Full name of the church is Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark or in Italian Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco and it is the biggest church you can see in Venice. It is over 75 meters long and over 60 meters wide and with height of 43 meters with largest of 5 domes. St Mark’s Basilica is best known represtation of Italo-Byzantine architecture and it left me speachless. It is one of the most beautiful sights to see. I highly recommend taking your time, even sitting in one of the nearby cafes and spending time soaking up that amazing legacy of art and architecture.
Acqua alta is a term meaning ”high water” and is used to describe high tide peaks. In Venice acqua alta is a special thing to witness as it completely floods St Marks square. As a first time visitor I was totally oblivious that something like that was even possible. I heard bells from the church and saw the water coming. Square was filled with tourist who as much as I didn’t know what hit them. Somehow all of us concentrated in center of the square hoping we would get away with dry feet. Nobody was that lucky that day! What even more amazed me was how quickly locals put on their yellow fishing rubber boots and carried on with their days as if Venice didn’t turn into Atlantis for half an hour. So if you hear bells rather take off your shoes that get them all wet.
Ride in gondola
When you say Venice most of the people first thought is gondola, a traditional Venetian rowing-boat, usually being rowed by a man in striped shirt and that funny looking flat hat, right? Even though part of me thought that that might be a Hollywood concept I was not disappointed, that was exactly how it looked like. Gondolas were, of course, a legitimate way of transport from 12th century all up until late 20th. Now days, they are just a monument to those non technological and simpler times and a way for gondoliers to overprice for their rides. But, on the other side, if you are in Venice and have some money to spare I don’t see a better way of spending it than on a romantic ride with your better half or by yourself on a very unique way of sightseeing.
Carnival of Venice and its masks
Carnival is annual festival which is being held sometime before Easter and is best known for its masks. There several types of masks worn at carnival, some of them are bauta, colombina, medico della peste, moreta and so one. Each one of those has some specific characteristics. For example, medico della peste has a long beak and is one most recognizable masks of Venice. Of course, there are countless shops everywhere on the streets where you can buy masks and I encourage you to do so. You can find all from those which only cover your eyes to those which cover your whole face. And there are so many variations to those, different colors, with or without gems, feathers or ribbons and any of them will be a great souvenir to take home.
I have only one thing to ask regarding food, have you actually been in Italy if you didn’t eat Italian pizza while there? Well, that was my guiding thought so I naturally opted for pizza. I did not regret it. There are so pizza places to chose from that is virtually humanly impossible to make a choice. There are several possible ways to solve that problem. One, ask Google, I am sure there are helpful sites with good reviews that will help you choose. Two, ask a local, because they probably know where to find good and yet cheap food. Or three, do as I did, simply let your nose lead you and go there where you smell a fresh pizza. I know I didn’t make mistake and had a pretty good pizza followed by great cup of amazing coffee.
All in all, I have enjoyed my stay in Venice and I can’t wait to go there again and see what new adventures await for me there. Goodbye Venice and ‘til the next time I leave you with a quote from Jessica Zafra.
”I cannot write about Venice; I can only write about me, and the sleeping parts of myself that Venice has shocked into wakefulness.”