Sunday, February 26, 2017

Italy 2k17 - VENICE

I already knew that Venice was going to be a legit "dream come true" moment for me. Venice was my first taste of the "there's more out there then my small little town" mentality. At the age of 13, I vividly remember seeing that picture of Rialto Bridge and saying to myself: "I will get there!" So,needless to say, Venice had high expectations and I was a little bit nervous that it wouldn't meet them. SPOILER ALERT: It met every expectation and MORE!

Venice was my first interaction with the Italian culture. It was my first taste of REAL Italian food. It was my first sip of true Chianti wine. It was my first "Buongiorno" and my first "Ciao." Sigh, take me back?

I will never forget the feeling and emotion that came over me when I rounded the corner and got my first glimpse of the Rialto Bridge and the Grand Canal. I grabbed Ken's arm as I gasped and I exclaimed over and over again "ohm'god, ohm'god, ohm'god!" Instantly, tears filled my eyes. I had sunglasses on at the time but when I removed them, I looked at Ken and pointed to my face and said "I'm actually CRYING!" We then just stood there and watched the gondolas drift by and I looked at the beautiful buildings along the water over and over again. I didn't want to leave. I could have just stood there for the next 2 weeks of the trip and been content, I'm sure of it!

After standing there a while, we walked up and over and saw the other side of the bridge. Restaurants lined the walkways on either side of the bridge. Docks lined the water where gondolas were waiting to take folks on a journey through the small canals that make up Venice. It was dusk and the sun was setting making the ambiance even more memorable. What I dreamt didn't even COMPARE to the beauty of seeing all of this in person. A feeling I'll never forget. Bucket list item checked. 

We spent 2.5 days in Venice. It's a small city and 2.5 days was good enough to see everything. This isn't to say you couldn't stay longer. We spent our days walking the narrow streets. There's a lot of beautiful architecture and history to see in Venice. And it is so easy to get lost in Venice. You get turned around quite easily while mindlessly twisting and turning through the small streets and alleyways. Thank GOD for the old fashioned paper map! The city is very charming and romantic. I loved walking through the streets and crossing all the small canals. There are over 4000 small bridges in Venice! I'm pretty sure on our walks, we must have crossed at least half of them (I'm only slightly exaggerating).

Now, let's talk food.

It's going to be really hard for me to fully describe how this food brought me the joy that it did. We didn't have a bad meal in Venice. How could you when the people take such pride in their cuisine?! There is so much love and joy put in to every plate of food that is put in front of you. You can taste how the recipe has been developed and shared from one generation to the next. You can see how some restaurants have taken the techniques and flavours they were taught as a child growing up and put their own modern takes on them. Many of the meals had me speechless and all I could do after taking a bite was to sit back and just say "MMM" over and over again.

Fettucine in a porcini mushroom cream sauce.
Vongole (pasta with clams)
All of the crostini with bruschetta, garlic oil, prosciutto, mortadella...the list keeps going
Cheese on cheese on cheese
Ricotta cheesecake
And the meal of all meals in Venice: squid ink ravioli with white fish and a saffron sauce. I can't even. NOPE. There are no words to describe our last night in Venice. Just the "heart eye emoiji" forever and ever.

I fell in love with Venice at first sight. My Italy trip was off to a good start. The weather was gorgeous. We went expecting it to rain every day considering it was the official "rainy" season. Also, we have friends who had visited Italy at the same time of year in the past and they warned us to be ready for rain and stressed the need for extra socks and good waterproof boots and jackets. Our entire stay in Venice (and Italy for that matter) was rain-free! It was like a perfect Canadian spring day every day that we were there.

I'm going to let the pictures do the rest of the talking about my time in Venice. Hopefully my words and these photos will truly express how easily it is to fall in love with this place. I truly hope I can go back to Venice someday. Soon.

Next stop: Florence! Stay tuned...