Saturday, March 29, 2008

Ah Bella Italia!

Since I was having such a good time in Europe I decided to extend my stay another week and upon the suggestion of my cousin Philipp I hopped on the train to Venice. I have loved riding trains since I was a child and this was quite a long one, Luzern, then various towns in Switzerland, Chiasso the border town where ultra serious Italian immigration officers check your passport, then on to Milan, Verona, and finally Venice.

This was my first time in Venice and I was strangely daunted by the fact that I was arriving in this unknown city in the evening by myself. I made my way out of the train station to the Vaporetti (the boats that are the city "buses"). Sitting on the Vaporetti, driving down the Grand Canal, I was breathless. It was evening already and the water glittered with reflections of the lights shining from the palatial villas on the Grand Canal. Every little canal, like an alley, held the promise of secrets and mystery.

I arrived at my stop at the Rialto Bridge and tried to find my way to my hotel through the piazzas and alleys that snake through the city in no logical way. A word to the wise, if you go to Venice, PLAN to get lost. I made it to my charming hotel without major incident and was so excited to see this beautiful city. I dropped my bags and headed to San Marco Square. I walked through little alleys and over little bridges and arrived at this magnificent square. While I was taking it all in a man selling tickets for a concert approached me. He spoke to me in Italian for a bit and at the end of his spiel I laughed and told him I don't speak Italian. But I did buy a ticket and listened to Vivaldi's Four Seasons performed live in a church. Amazing.

After the concert I decided to get some dinner, well unbeknownst to me at the time, all the restaurants around San Marco are very expensive. I walked into a cafe and asked about dinner for which they sent me upstairs. When I arrived upstairs I noticed this was a bit posh for me, ladies in dresses, men in dinner jackets. Oh well, what the hell I'm rocking this fur coat from my aunt and I figured I would play woman of mystery for the evening. So I sat down, received a few curious looks from other patrons and had a lovely glass of wine, pasta dish and tiramisu. After a brief conversation with the Swiss couple next to me I finished up and headed back to my hotel (after getting lost again, OF COURSE).

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