Let’s go to Venice! On Saturday morning the girls and I took a verrrrrry early (4:30am) train from Florence to Venice. Now normally my hat comes off to the excellence of European trains, but this time it was a nightmare. Trenitalia crowded way too many people onto this train, so that people were standing in the aisles face to face, babies were screaming, there wasn’t room for luggage, fights broke out… it was a disaster. Luckily I was able to find a tiny niche on the train where I could pop down and sit on my backpack to read. (I was so addicted to the Hunger Games series) Unfortunately it was a pretty long ride, and my legs were quite achey by the end…
Relieved to be in Florence, my friends and I found our way to our last Italian hostel- another Camping Plus area. This time Dani and I were put into a trailer/windowless jail cell together which was actually a welcome relief from the Florence tents. After freshening up, we took a bus back into town and then started to walk.
The first thing that I noticed about Venice was that it is quite a sleepy little town… you could almost say a ghost town. There were practically no people walking the streets, many of the buildings seemed dilapidated, the city wasn’t bubbling with usual Italian energy… it was weird. Perhaps it is the fact that Venice is a sinking city. It was originally constructed on essentially a bog, and all of its buildings have concrete and granite foundations. The sinking effect + global warming = a city going down… literally. I heard somewhere that it is predicted to be uninhabited in fifty years- yikes! Well, I could certainly feel the desperation of the Venetians. It’s such a beautiful city that leaves its inhabitants feeling stranded and hopeless… how romantic.
We were able to enjoy the sights of the city, however, and very much enjoyed the gorgeous canals, ornate churches, and incredible glass stores. Venice is home to the Murano glass factory, and it was clearly a point of pride for the city- everywhere we turned there were hand-blown colorful glass jewelry and nick knacks. For the majority of the day we hung out around the Piazza San Marco.
Unfortunately gondola rides are very expensive, and my friends and I decided to opt out. Perhaps one day when I’m rich and famous I can return and be sung sweet to by a Fabio in stripes… On a more positive note, the weather was quite lovely, and my friends and I were able to enjoy cappuccinos in the sunshine and people-watch. We ate dinner at an American-Irish pub, then headed back to the hostel for a night of bonding in the other girls’ cute log cabin.
Sunday was Easter (Alleluia!), so my friends and I went back into Venice for Mass. We then walked around the city a bit more, and realized a pretty hilarious truth. Apparently Saturday we took a wrong turn and ended up in one of the non-touristy parts of the city. Whoops! We were all laughing when we realized we’d missed the majority of Venice’s heavy-hitter tourist attractions, but then eventually made our way over to see them. We saw the Campanile di San Marco, Palazzo Ducale, San Giorgio Maggiore, and the Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge).
After lunch (and one last gelato), we went back to the hostel to gather the Big Mamas, then caught a bus to the train station. From there we took an evening/night train to Milan- the cheapest city to fly in and out of in Italy. There we spent our LAST European night in an airport (yayyy!), and then flew home to home sweet Madrid Monday morning. PHEW!! Italy was by far the most exhausting trip of the semester, but it was also probably the best. The cities in Italy are just astoundingly beautiful, and the history incredible. My one complaint would be that the majority of the people are not very friendly- they’re loud, rude, unhelpful, and arrogant. I guess you can’t win em all though. Maybe the Italians should just keep their mean opinions to themselves and just do what they do best- make food. (Was that too harsh?) Seriously though, Italy had hands down the best food in all of Europe. I’m pretty sure I gained about 40 pounds over ten days… lovely. You can’t blame me though… I was in the land of pizza, pasta, and gelato!! VIVA ITALIA!!