Having already visited Florence and Naples, Venice was still on my to-do list of destinations for day trips out of Rome. Once again, I turned to Trenitalia to make this goal come true. My plans were threatened momentarily by the transportation strikes. In Italy, the transportation strikes are planned in advance, which is interesting. Any inconvenience caused by the temporary discontinuation of bus and metro services is slightly offset by a forewarning that services will not be available at predetermined times. With this information accessible, we were able to schedule our train to Venice around when the metro would be running. When we came back, the strike was still on but luckily some buses were running and I was able to travel with very little difficulty.
We arrived at the Venezia Santa Lucia station after a lengthy train ride and walked out to find ourselves in the maze of streets and waterways that makes up Venice. Our first stop was the Jewish Ghetto, where we found delicious pastries. We went to a restaurant in this neighborhood as well, and I was pleased by the selection of vegetarian sandwiches. One negative aspect of the meal was that they tried to trick us into paying more by adding several extra entrees to our bill. This may have worked on the average tourists, but as Temple students abroad we were savvier than the waitress expected us to be and we were able to remedy the overcharges. This experience was certainly a reminder to stay aware when travelling.
After our meal and our corrected bill, we ventured off to find San Marco Square. Rather than a direct route, we weaved in and out of whimsical streets lines with shops selling local glass, masks, and delicacies. The streets were packed with tourists sporting shopping bags and it was important to keep an eye on the groups so as not to get lost. I imagine it is very easy to get lost in Venice, but our intention was to wander so we were content wherever we were. We finally found the square, a beautiful piazza lined with an elaborately decorated church, outdoor cafes, and shops. Multitudes of pigeons also found the square and tourists either loved feeding them or were fighting to keep them away. Also in the square is St. Mark’s Campanile, a bell tower that overlooks the city. It cost eight euro to take an elevator to the top, and the elevator was a welcome change after climbing the many steps of the Duomo in Florence the week before! As predicted, the view was breathtaking. Getting lost in the streets of Venice gives one a sense of the windy streets and waterways, but looking at the scene from above truly allowed me to see the layout of the city. Gondolas were zooming through the blue water that broke up the sea of terracotta roofs. I felt much safer at the bell tower than I did at the Duomo because the tower was entirely fenced in and I could enjoy the view without the fear of falling. We intended to take a water taxi back to the train station but they were on strike so we weaved through the city once more before saying Ciao to Venice.