VeniceVenice, the ancient maritime power for 15 centuries. Unassailable from the land until Napoleon, the city had a fleet that nobody wanted to tangle with, making it an economic power that could independently define its own rules and agendas while watching various empires rise and fall. The current story began in 528, but it has been a part of Italian/Roman heritage since at least 100 A.D.
The ArrivalAs part of my month long trip through Europe with the family, I drove in from Brescia to the train station and parked. It seemed chaotic to figure out the best place. Advice, research this step in advance. I hear they now have a tourist entrance fee of 3 to 8 euros for those not staying overnight.
Then you have your choice of about 20 bridges to get into classic Venice. Confusion and directional challenges now abound. Nothing is cardinal. Now, you can get an app that will work even if you don't have GPS and data is blocked by the incredibly narrow walkways and high buildings. You can also get a guide, buy a map, or follow the signs displayed prominently about 2 stories up on all the major pathways. This is how I found San Marco without too much difficulty.
The family and I took our time. My youngest son had just been to Venice with his Grandfather, and based on that information, we got lost. Fast. Reorienting in open squares is the best way to get out of that situation (as in stumbling around until you find an open square). There are many dead ends up to the canals. It can be frustrating, but also rewarding finding things most people don't run across.
Following the main path to our destination we crossed the amazing Ponte Di Rialto, through multitudes of shops, and of course my children's #1 goal, gelato.
Piazza San MarcoThe spot everyone goes, finally made it. It felt like an achievement. We could tell we were getting close as more and more shops were present and the crowds became packed. Piazza San Marco is the obvious glory spot of Venice photography, as well as a jumping-off point to the islands of San Giorgio with its spire, church, and unmatched view of the main island, and Murano where crafted, beautiful glass is produced. Quite the sight to see.
Heading BackTaking a different way back to see the northeast side of the city, we wove down more winding paths and came across a few surprises on our way to the former Jewish Ghetto. During this dark time, this area was emptied by German troops in 1943 and the inhabitants were shipped off to concentration camps.
It was a long and somber walk, and as everyone got more exhausted, we finally exited Venice. I think a better approach would be to stay in the city, given my experience as a day tripper with 4 kids.