Venice was a challenge. No other way to put it. I had fond memories of Venice from my last trip. However, that was in 1988, before mass tourism. It was crowded then, in the heart of the summer. This time, we were there “pre-season” and yet it was one of the most crowded places we’ve been (and we’ve been to some crowded places this past year). The water “buses” that I recall offering cheap and relaxing rides down the canal have become jam-packed, pushing and shoving matches. St. Mark’s Square, one of the world’s most beautiful man-made sights, is now filled with hawkers, aggressively approaching everyone with junk to sell, and throwing pigeon food in women’s hair so the pigeons land on them… sigh. It wasn’t a great visit, for any of us, frankly. It’s still gorgeous, it’s still very unusual, but it’s a challenge to visit. Watching out for the kids in crowds, and on and off boats, was stressful.
Now to the positives: when we did turn down little side streets, off the beaten track (sometimes intentionally, sometimes when we took the wrong boat) we relaxed a little. It seemed then the sun would come out even warmer, we could sit and enjoy some gelato, and just soak up the atmosphere. Here are some of my favorite images from this intriguing place.