Italy Venice

Why cobbled streets of Venice ruin you for life

Trespassing Venice


Venice is repeatedly named the most romantic city in the world – with its buzzing main square, a towering basilica and bell tower, quaint and rustic buildings with exposed brick facades, distressed wooden doors and wrought iron windows, it is easy to see why. Spend a day in Venice and I bet you’ll forget that man ever invented cars. It’s pretty cobblestoned streets and the gondoliers in that striking ensemble will transport you to an unhurried, romantic pace of life that is distinctly Italian but uniquely Venetian.

It is a shame that most crowds only come here for a day, getting off those humungous cruises and rushing from one attraction to the other. It gets pretty hectic from 10 to 5, but when the cruises and coaches leave, the city unwinds like one does with a glass of wine at the end of the day. The gondolas gently lap against the pier, sun paints the sky in varying hues, the buildings and the canals sparkle as if made of molten gold and the roofs are set a fiery red – the city marches and claims the podium position of the most romantic city in the world and you nod in muted admiration.

Things to do in Venice:

Soak the atmosphere at San Marco square

San Marco Square with its famed columned galleries where mini orchestras play live music, the central piazza where children feed and chase pigeons, the architecturally imposing bell tower, the byzantine basilica and the doge’s palace, makes it busy but the best place for people watching. It buzzes with energy and the very Italian zest for life- la dolce vita!

Over the next three days we visited the square several times. One evening, we witness the most bizarre graduation ceremony – smartly dressed students in their graduation hats (some made with leaves!?!) surrounded by their friends and family who were all singing a very catchy song that went to the tune of cok-ory, cok-ory, ba badi ba badi ba~umpapa umpapa”. Between their fits of giggles, we eventually found out that it was rather sweary song mocking the newly acquired degree. The Italians and their humour!

Another evening, we saw people gathering and laying their picnic blankets along the pier. 10 minutes, and countless hand gestures later, a kind gentleman in his broken English told us that tonight marked the end of a 15th century fasting to thank the lord for the end of the terrible plague and there would be fireworks. Looking at the terrific turnout of the people, I asked Viral if it was crowded just like this in Nice on Bastille Day when the attack happened. “A truck can’t mow us here in Venice”, he said putting his arm around me. “We are safe”, I mutter to myself and we hold hands under the beautiful display.

To Gondola or not to Gondola is the biggest conundrum that one would face in the city. There is no doubt that you cannot think about Venice without the gondoliers in their striped tshirts, singing and rowing away into the sunset. I have spent each day in the city humming Do lafzo with beautiful Zeenat Aman and Amitabh Bachchan in the perfect Bollywood setting. But the idea is too beautiful to spoil with the reality of 6 people being packed into a tiny gondola, gondolier often glued to their phones while absent mindedly rowing. We chose to instead capture the image on a canvas rather than taking a selfie, felt coming of age as travellers.


Walking around the canals

The best of the google maps and directions are not enough; it is impossible to not get lost in the labyrinth of canals and bridges. Each wrong turn brought us to yet another beautiful house or something else spectacular. I remember, my colleague Chris mentioning that, as a kid he could draw a map of Venice by memory with all the canals and bridges – seems almost an impossible feat. The shops around the Square are truly envy inducing – amidst the Louis Vuittons, Cavallis Fendis were propped some shops selling Venetian masks and somehow these made the brand houses little less designer and a little more local.

A day island hopping in Venice

There are many islands in and around Venice, each very different than the other. Murano is famous for its blown glass technique and the beautiful (very expensive) glass sculptures. There are many workshops holding demonstrations, but our favourite Santa Chiara. Erstwhile church which you can see it in its vaulted ceilings, now converted to a glass factory and shop. They plan to open a bar with live music and well if you ask nicely, the master may just let you try blowing the glass as well.


Burano Island with houses painted in every imaginable hue will help you clock many a likes on your Instagram page. The clothes line outside the houses will make you green with envy real people live their everyday life in this colourful town!! The island is also very famous for its hand knitted lace. Over time things have changed; the old lace knitting women are now either props to draw in the crowds into the big lace stores or relegated to black and white photographs on the wall.

Torcello is less crowded of the three islands. We arrived after 5 and were not let inside the chapel but were lucky to witness a wedding – an Italian wedding, tick! There is a love seat in the gardens and it is said that if you sit together you would get married in a year. Wonder what happens to those who are already married?!!


Not from the souvenir shop:

Viral – A perfect Italian breakfast spot, overlooking canal side and watching the gondoliers go by one or two even obliged with a song!

Pooja – A beautiful gold bracelet with an infinity motif; life and Italy both brim with endless possibilities.

Like all of Italy, Venice has lot to offer but give yourself enough time so that in a hurry to see more and do more, you don’t miss the hidden treasures – like the quirky apartment bells, floral name plates, mosaic direction signs on the ground which turn the concept of advertisement hoardings on its head.  Contrary to what a lot of people may think – Venice is not overrated, it won’t just lay all its secrets out for you, you have to cajole them out of her. With a happy heart we bid Venice Arrive derci!

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