Traveling to Venice and Florence with my Sis 

December 14, 2021

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The dance of the gondolas and Speedboats in Venice

After our time out of Italy and in Athens, Greece, we took a flight and train ride to arrive in Venice, La Serenissima. Venice is unlike anywhere else I have traveled. Although this was not my first visit, as always, I am stunned by her beauty, her resilience, and her sense of impending loss. My sister, Patrice, and her partner, Diana, were also amazed by this fairyland on the water. 

We arrived after dark and were all tired. As I texted back and forth with our apartment host, we boarded a vaporetto, a water bus, packed with locals and travelers. Finally, our host agreed to meet us at our stop in San Polo, an area of Venice where many locals live and one with which I am not as familiar as others. 

We rented Venezia House to Realto in among the narrow streets of San Polo. Our host let us in, showed us a few things and left us to unpack. This apartment was very cute and actually had 2 bedrooms. I was thrilled to have my own space as were Patrice and Diana. 

Even though it was a very cute place, it was very humid.  Over the course of two nights that became a big challenge. Things did not dry. 

Thank the Light that my sister has a great sense of direction. We went out that evening and I doubt I could have found my way back if she wasn’t there. We wandered for a bit, enjoying the people as the night life began. 

The next morning, Patrice was adamant. She wanted EGGS for breakfast.  By now she knew that was unusual. But our first priority of the day was to find eggs. 

We found Ristorante Terrazza Sommariva right on the Grand Canal for the most expensive meal we enjoyed.

Patrice and Diana ordered brioche, coffee and water to go with the American Breakfast of Scrambled eggs and bacon. I enjoyed the eggs and bacon too. However, I swear we each had 3 eggs plus five slices of bacon. It was huge and so was the price. I think we paid over 75 Euros. But my sis was happy.


After breakfast, our next item on the agenda was to visit the Realto Bridge.

We were very near the bridge. As always, for me, it brings to mind all that Venice means to me—incredible beauty and architecture, canals and views, and a bit of wonder. 

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The Realto Bridge

We spent a bit of time watching the water and the boats.

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The gondolas and passenger boats all passed below the bridge.

Next task for them—Shopping at the Hard Rock Café. The shop was located at the end of the bridge. I stayed outside and people watched. It was more crowded than the other tourist spots we had visited.

There were also street vendors where I perused the available gifts. I knew my sister was searching for a specific jacket—there were several vendors with a version of what she sought. 

I wandered back onto the bridge and waited. Again, they exited the Hard Rock Café with an armload of gifts. Luckily one was a backpack that they could use to carry their finds.

Now, we were off to find St. Mark’s Square. It was so close. It should have been an easy find. However, in Venice, one must prepare to get lost. And we did. 

We wondered the back streets using maps and asking people how to arrive at St. Mark’s Square. We enjoyed so much of the back streets that I was able to speak with an 80 year old local gentleman as we walked. He talked about how most of his friends were gone—they moved away because of the cost of living in Venice and because of the number of people, of stranieri, strangers, usually in Venice. He was a kind person who gave us directions—yet, of course—he did not know which calle, pronounced KiyA, for streets, by name. And as with everyone else, the directions were incomplete. 

Venice Street View, following the leader

We met a woman, an American, who had rented a room for three months here in Venice. She would explore the city and other areas of Italy. She walked with us to St. Mark’s Square. We approached the piazza from behind the church.

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There was construction in front of the church of St. Mark. 

We spent time wandering the square, window shopping. Patrice was still hunting for that perfect jacket. I think she found it here, near the church.

The once thing that all three of us wanted to do in Venice was to ride in a gondola. I have been visiting Venice for 50 years and had never been in a private gondola. 

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A large group on a gondola before us.

We stopped to talk with a gondolier who wanted more than we would pay. After haggling with the owner, in Italian, of course, we reduced the price and began our gondola ride.

Across the canal from St. Mark’s Square.

Our gondolier was very knowledgeable. Travel with us.

I was in the front of the gondola. The gondolier needed to duck as we went under bridges.

Looking behind on the quiet causeways.

Hidden scenes from the gondola

Another bridge. It was so quiet along these waterways, so peaceful.

Look at those other little boats. 

It is heartbreaking to see the bottom floors of these homes underwater. 

I loved the differing window design for each floor of this home.

Somewhere along this ride, my sister saw a red and white striped pole—and said it looked like we were passing a barbershop.

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A boat can dock here to eat at an exclusive restaurant inside.

Thank you to Patrice and Diana for taking me with you on your gondola ride. It was a wonder.

Out of respect for them, I did not show them on the gondola. It was their private time.

After the gondola ride, it was time for dinner, especially since it had begun to rain. We found a covered outdoor café where we could enjoy a bowl of pasta and a bit of resting. I do not recall where we did eat but there were many travelers who chose this restaurant.

We only had two nights in Venice. The others did not want to see any art here. They simply wanted to experience the city and take the gondola ride. So we headed back to our apartment to repack all the goodies they purchased and to prepare for leaving the next morning. 

We stopped at a local grocery store to purchase breakfast goodies and snacks for the train ride to Florence. 

When we reached our apartment, we found it so damp that the clothing hanging and never worn were damp. I did like this apartment but think that perhaps it should have a dehumidifier in it. 

The next morning, we headed to the train station and on to my favorite city in Italy, Florence. 

Thanks for traveling with us. More of our family travels next time.

A dopo!

Ciao for now!

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