It’s the first day of spring break, it’s a bit cloudy with light showers, temperature a bit on the chilly side, & I am in Venice!
You know the place with the gondolas, the pretty glass, the city that floats on water? Yup, that’s the one.
The beginning of an eight-day-long journey throughout Italy and what better way to start than in Venice. Located in the northeast corner of the country next to Slovenia, sits this floating city in the Venetian lagoon.
I begin my morning quickly scarfing down the complimentary breakfast at the hostel. Once my hunger is catered to I head towards Piazza San Marco, a lovely square where travelers from every corner of the world flock to admire the marvels of this Venetian gem. The most famous attraction of the piazza (square) is undoubtedly Basilica di San Marco, or St. Mark’s Basilica. In fact, it’s so incredible that I was willing to stand 90 minutes in line for it! It truly is worth the wait. I promise you this.
Basilica di San Marco is perhaps the finest example of Byzantine architecture in the world. Immediately, your attention goes straight up to the ceiling. It’s impossible not to look up when you have 8,000 square meters of spectacular mosaic hanging over your head waiting to be marveled at. As you walk through, more mosaic, motifs, gold covered walls, and priceless artifacts grab your attention and leave you in wonder at how all of these magnificent pieces of history have been collected & placed under a single roof. As you walk around on this incredible floor laid in marble & glass, you can see the pride and honor in the Basilica’s craftsmen by looking at the intricate detail on both the inside and outside of the cathedral. This, however, is only my first stop of the day here in Venice.
Once I’m finished dragging my jaw across the marble-glass floors of St. Mark’s Basilica, I head on over to the Doge’s Palace. A gothic architectural masterpiece. As I’m surveying the palace, I am in complete awe at the beautiful design of it. Delicate marble columns equally spaced out forming arching windows all holding up the mass of the palace. Pink marble patterns on the surface. Spires sitting atop the structure just to add that much more ‘venetian’ to it. The palace is a perfect representation of Venice itself.
All of those ooh’s & aah’s sure can make you hungry. So naturally I went to grab gelato at the nearest gelato shop I could find. If you’ve never had real gelato, not the store-bought ice cream that claims its gelato, then you must try it. For all my ice cream lovers, try it. For all my lactose intolerant people, try it anyway, you’re in Italy! Two cups of gelato later and I embark on the next adventure.
For years I heard of the famous Venetian glass. Colorful, elaborate, and skillfully made. All of those adjectives perfectly describe the glass derived from this island. However, it’s the small island of Murano which is home to the world-renowned art of glass blowing. I took a short boat ride over to the glass blowing island and decided to explore a bit more of the Venetian culture. Every other store that I walked past on this island was a glass shop. Full of curiosity, I entered many of these shops to see just how incredible this glass actually was. Just like I said you must try the gelato, and you must purchase a Venetian glass souvenir. The variance of these art pieces are extraordinary. Technically, no two pieces are the same since they are hand crafted, thus allowing for slight differences between each other. That to me adds tremendous worth to the glass. Think of it as a one-of-a-kind piece of art designed solely for you. It caught your eye and you purchased it. That piece of Venetian history now belongs to you, and to me that is an extremely fascinating concept. I didn’t walk out of Murano empty-handed; in fact, I purchased several items to give to family and friends. The island of glass blowing did not disappoint.
Venezia, as it’s said in the native language, is a floating labyrinth. If maps or GPS’ weren’t a thing I might still be trying to find my way out of Venice. I’m kidding, but really it’s so easy to get lost wandering through the alleys and streets of this city. And in my opinion, the best way to explore a city is to get lost in it. Venice is most definitely a great place to do just that.
On my final day in Venice I spent hours meandering through the narrow alleyways and paths leading me to aesthetically pleasing doorways, mini canals, and locals completing their daily errands and chores. I truly got lost within this timeless city. I felt as if each canal I walked alongside I was stepping further back into the past. I could smell the fresh fish marinating in oils and vinegars, see the thousands of gondolas floating along the canals, hear the music being played from each little Venetian home. The mixture of history, art, culture, cuisine, and architecture form this wonderful Italian pearl sitting atop the Venetian lagoon. Venice truly is a city like no other.
by Kevin Czopek
About the author:
Kevin is an adventure enthusiast who has managed to travel through 20+ countries as well as 20 states over the past two years, all while juggling part-time jobs and obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Sciences. The devout explorer uses his photography and writing to tell unique, passionate stories about his travels. When he’s not hiking up active volcanoes in Indonesia or camel trekking through the Sahara Desert, he’s most likely editing his photography portfolio or typing up a new entry for his blog http://mytravelthoughts.com/ . To find more of Kevin’s photos you can visit https://kevinczopek.pixieset.com/