Snapshots of Venice

Photo of pink buildings with green and white shutters facing onto canal in VenicePolaroids of Venice by travel blogger Cee Fardoe of Coco & Vera, featuring Piazza San MarcoPhoto of the Doges Palace at Saint Mark's Square in Venice by travel blogger Cee Fardoe of Coco & VeraSnapshots of doors and columns of Venice by travel blogger Cee Fardoe of Coco & VeraPolaroids of Venice by travel blogger Cee Fardoe of Cooc & Vera, featuring gelato and the Grand CanalPhoto of sunrise over the Grand Canal in Venice by travel blogger Cee Fardoe of Coco & Vera
When I was eighteen, my best friend decided she wanted us to go to Venice. I have no idea what made her choose Venice as a destination – she had never expressed any special interested in the Italian city before and, to be frank, I hadn’t either; at the time, it was just one of many, many places on the list of where I hadn’t yet been. We spent a single afternoon planning, during which it became abundantly clear that we would not be good travel partners. After that, we never discussed Venice again, and I gave little further thought to when I might travel there.

In the years since, I have been to Rome twice and adored the city on both occasions. My apprehension about all things boat and water-related has kept me away from Venice but, I admit, after a few too many hours spent scrolling travel photos on Pinterest, I was inspired and convinced Ian that we needed to visit during our European adventure this year. I had such a clear vision of what it would be like to stroll along the canals, of how I would enjoy sipping Aperol Spritz in the sun. In my imagination, Venice was a tranquil place – and I have never been so sorry to be wrong.

When I look back on our photos, I can’t help but admire the sights we saw. Venice is as beautiful as every photo would lead you to believe. It is also crowded, positively teeming with streams of tourists wandering aimlessly down narrow laneways at a pace so slow that often, foot traffic in both directions grinds to a halt and you find yourself completely unable to move until someone ten feet ahead decides they have finished admiring whatever it was that so captivated their attention. I have never felt more invisible than in Venice. No matter which way I turned, it seemed, I was elbowed or trod upon or shoved by another traveler who was unaware of, or simply uninterested in, the people around them. I had read that Venetians are hostile towards tourists, and after experiencing the behaviour of tourists in the city, I came to understand why. There is something about the place that seems to bring out the worst in people – perhaps it is the pressure to make the most of all the beautiful sights in a city that is quite literally sinking into the sea, but it’s hard to say. What I do know is that the photos we took don’t resemble the experience we had in any way. I find it hard to reconcile them with my memories of our days there, which were mostly stressful and exhausting. I was happiest when we climbed to the top of the Scala Contarini de Bovolo, an old staircase that is often viewed from the ground but rarely visited – from there, we could see the whole city, really take our time appreciating the beauty of it, without multilingual chatter buzzing all around us and backpacks jostling us from all angles.

At the airport on our way back to Paris, I paused to reflect – normally, I loathe airports, particularly when I am on my way home, but I was genuinely glad to be at Marco Polo, because it was a relief to leave Venice. I wracked my brain, trying to think if there is anywhere else in the world that I have been glad to leave at the end of a holiday. Weeks later, I am still wondering, but I haven’t yet thought of anywhere else that has made me feel the way Venice did. There is no doubt that it is a beautiful place, the kind that is worth seeing in person. But now that I have, I will be content to admire it in photos for the rest of my life.

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  1. Oh wow, indeed the pictures portray something totally different to the experience you describe.
    I have to say that when your home becomes “touristy” it does take a toll on your quality of life. Everything becomes more expensive, public transportation gets overloaded, it gets a lot noisier and such.
    While I have never considered visiting Venice I would probably reconsider it.

  2. I’m sorry to hear it was a lackluster experience (in all honesty, yours is similar to mine with respect to the multiple times I’ve been in London – I usually can’t wait to leave after a few days). Granted I haven’t been in Venice in over ten years but I had a really magical time there from what I remember – I actually think it was my favourite place that I visited in Italy out of the month I spent there. For me a lot of that has to do with the history of the place (after Britain, I’m probably most familiar with the history of Venice) and I find that can result in me ignoring a lot of the negative things about a place…ironically not with London though!

    Courtney ~ Sartorial Sidelines

  3. Wow! I would have never expected that but I have to say, I appreciate the honest review. I’ve always found Venice intriguing, but now I’m glad it’s not at the top of my “must see” list. Your photos sure are beautiful though!

  4. Venice has something magical that so many tourists would like to capture, and if you are in in the crowd you are struggling to enjoy the beauty of the city.
    I’m glad you have realized that it was worth seeing in person, at least once!

  5. Oh Cee, the crowds sound horrible! If there’s one thing I hate, it’s that! It’s one of the reasons we left Vancouver… the line ups, parking and crammed stores started to drive me crazy! I like my space and I like to roam, and do at my speed. I’m highly impatient that way! 😉 But in any case, glad you went and experienced and saw what Venice has to offer! It certainly is beautiful!! xo

    PS – Are you guys still planning to visit Prague. Hope so! 🙂

  6. I am so sorry to hear that your visit to Venice was not at all what you’d hoped. Of course it is the worst when crowds of people get in the way of your enjoyment of something (a fact I’m frequently reminded of any time I think a festival of any kind is a good idea) and I suppose I’m grateful that the one day I spent in Venice seven years ago was an enjoyable one that left me with a desire to return. I’m not sure that I ever will, there is still so much more to go and see.
    Chic on the Cheap

  7. I highly recommend going there in March before the huge crowds arrive. Also, try to stay overnight. Once the day trippers leave, you will have the city almost to yourself. Take a day trip to the sun-soaked island of Burano. There really is nowhere else quite like Venice!

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