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Why Getting Lost in Venice is a Good Thing

veniceVenice seems to inspire either love or hate – I’ve yet to meet someone who is wishy-washy about it. Before my first visit, I remember being warned of the smelly canals and cruise ship crowds – and despite being there in the heat of mid-July, there wasn’t a whiff of anything foul in the air; and we overnighted in Venice for a couple days and so were treated to the post-crowd city. As it turns out, I’m one of those people who loves Venice.

A visit to Venice isn’t about checking off a list of things to see, rather the city itself is the thing to see. I might think you can’t leave Venice without setting foot in the Basilica San Marco (perhaps my favorite church anywhere), and while there you might as well take a tour of the Doge’s Palace nextdoor and take the elevator to the top of the Campanile (the church’s bell tower). If you’re an modern art lover, there’s a Guggenheim museum on the Grand Canal, and Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man is housed in a Venetian museum.

But really, the point of Venice – for me, anyway – is to wander its maze-like alleyways and bridges, getting thoroughly lost and then finding your way back to something familiar. It’s about accidentally finding a gondola workshop where the men are working their lathes into the groove of the boats outside in the sun. It’s about seeing a market boat (rather than a brick-and-mortar store) selling Venice’s few residents their vegetables and fish. And it’s quite a challenge to do any of that in a day-trip, or by staying close to the Piazza San Marco.

This video from Travelistic highlights some of Venice’s real charms, and although I’m not wild about the notion that the better time to visit an osteria is when all the women are at the market, I’m happy to get behind the narrator’s suggestion of getting away from the crowds. Oh, and the only thing I can figure is that the filmmakers were French – otherwise, why wouldn’t the palazzo owners be speaking Italian?