O Sole Mio

Venice welcomed us on a stunningly sunny day, and we kicked off our exploration by promptly getting lost in the city’s maze-like alleys.

Our first day, for the most part, was spent sampling various Italian treats, venturing into storefronts while attempting to discern the real Venice glass shops from the fake, and taking in the breathtaking St. Mark’s Basilica.

Mid-afternoon rolled around, and we found the cheapest Gondolier we could and not-so-gracefully boarded the vessel. Our half-hour tour through the grand canal and side waterways proved both peaceful and suspenseful; every time another gondola approached, we were certain we’d bump into the passersby or a nearby wall. Somehow, navigating the overly long boat seemed second nature to the Venetian, and we dismounted the gondola unscathed.

We enjoyed some wine at a waterfront restaurant, scarfed down a seafood dinner, and headed home. Navigating Venice at night is a terrifying experience; the alleys are dark and dead ends abound. It’s easy to fall into a hushed panic, even with Google maps by your side. We made it back safely, though, and headed to bed.

Two Wild and Crazy Guys

Erin caught a flight back to the states the next morning, so Mike and I took on the rest of the trip as a dynamic duo. Note: This is when the photo quality drops significantly.

The Venice we arrived in on day two was significantly more watery than the Venice of day one. A bit of rain had rendered the maze of Venice even more difficult, and the heart of the city was packed to the brim with tourists huddled onto platforms, which, just the day before, had been resting spots for those tired from their exploration of the city. Also important: Mike and I stopped to buy matching scarves.

Once we alighted dry land, we boarded a barge for a lengthy tour of three notable islands: Murano, Burano, and Torcello.

Murano, our first stop, is known for Venetian glass. It’s packed with factories, all family-owned and passed down father-to-son. We witnessed a glass-blowing demonstration, where the blower quickly molded an indistinguishable blob of glass into the iconic Venetian horse standing on its hind legs. We shelled out a number of Euros in the gift shop, got a quick bite at a nearby cafe, and returned to our boat.

Burano, either creatively named or shamelessly imitated after the founding of Murano, is known for lace-makers and fishing. The houses are brightly colored, because it helps fisherman identify their homes as they pull into shore. Mike and I walked around the island for a bit, simply enjoying the beauty of it, before heading to our last stop.

Torcello was a fascinating and tantalizing island. It only has 10 residents, one of which being the parish priest. We walked through the island’s single road, taking pictures on the bridges, near the church and by the water. We passed a few restaurants and buildings along the island’s single pathway, but we were mostly hypnotized by the sparse landscape and natural sounds around us. It was a truly remarkable place.

Once we returned to Venice proper, we continued our exploration and impulsively tried something completely unfamiliar–keep an eye out for it soon!

One last time, we meandered through the claustrophobia-inducing streets of Venice and slept well to prep for the final destination of our trip!