I met a man at a group dinner the other night. We were talking about recent vacations and he said he’d gone to Croatia and popped over to Venice, Italy. He loved Croatia, but hated Venice.

“You hated it? Why?”

“It’s so crowded. And dirty. I mean, it’s just an island, so there’s no place for the garbage to go. It’s filthy.”

His opinion made me doubt how much I’d enjoy Croatia since I loved Venice. It was not only my favorite city in Italy, but felt like a place I could live.

Which got me to thinking: what is it about Venice that I loved?

The isolation, for one. I love feeling apart from the world. It’s the feeling I get when I set out to sea, or swim in the ocean, or even just drive aimlessly in my car. The idea that no one can reach me is very liberating to me. I don’t know why I never think to move to an island. Obviously, surrounding myself with water seems like my idea of paradise.

Venice is crowded, to be sure. But we managed to escape the chaos of the sidewalks and bridges along the main canal and found plenty of privacy in the smaller alleyways. But nothing was more intoxicating than the privacy of our apartment balcony, where we spent hours every evening sipping limoncello (of course!) and snapping pictures of the tiled rooftops and ever-present sea gulls. We paid a pretty penny for our view, but it was worth EVERY cent. And though we spotted other rooftop balconies, we never saw another soul. It was like having Venice all to ourselves.


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When I think of Venice, I think of it being catlike. Lots of winding alleyways, bridges and canals, and places to explore. It’s a place where you can definitely be aloof and hide. It’s a place where you’re just out of arm’s reach — like a cat who doesn’t want to be held. Anyone who wants to find you has to take a boat first, and they’re painfully slow so you have time to crawl to the rooftops and find a cozy corner there.

Dirty? Aren’t all cities?
Smelly? Port cities usually are.
Crowded? It’s Italy. Of course, it’s crowded.

Paradise? It’s purr-fect.

Do you have an opinion about Venice?


14 responses to “Venice

  1. Clearly, anyone who hates Venice has something wrong with him and should not be allowed out. Yes, it’s crowded. But if you walk away from, say, La Basilica di San Marco or Il Ponte Rialto, you can find parts of Venice that are VERY empty. Further, I saw not the slightest hint of copious amounts of garbage. Good for you for not being as silly as that one cynic.

    • Thanks, Stephen. It shocked me to hear my table companion’s comments. It was not the Venice I experienced at all. And you’re right– it’s easy to escape the crowds if you get away from the main tourist traps.

  2. Another tantalizing thing about Venice is the quiet! No cars, no motorcycles or mopeds. If you want to be in Venice you walk or ride in a boat

  3. Loved Venice but we were constantly lost (like everyone else, I suspect.) The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt is a book that kind of captures what you are saying about Venice – if you haven’t already read it you might enjoy it.

  4. Two immediate thoughts Julie, though I’ve never been and probably never will (1) ‘Up On the Roof’ – The Drifters (2) ‘Don’t Look Now’ – the edgy film set in Venice with Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland.

  5. Never been, but it’s on my list along with every other place in the world. I used to have a recurring dream about Venice, so I’m attached to it. Seems like a magical place.

    I never care about people’s negative opinions when it comes to travel. Rather see places for myself!

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