Traveling, you quickly learn that the stereotypes and impressions you have a particular city are not very accurate. Seeing and experiencing a place for yourself, gives you a chance to create your own opinions and impressions. On our recent Winter vacation to Venice, I learned a few seemingly irrelevant things about Venice, that, when put together, help to shape my happy memories of a beautiful city.
In my travel journal, I made a few observations about Venetians and Venice tourist in January
The Winged Lion is the symbol for St. Mark, so finding that icon throughout the city wasn’t surprising. The reason I noted it in my journal has more to do with the pride Venice carries for its place in the world. The lion appears in their architecture, the religious symbols, their door-knockers, even in their advertising. Venice is a proud city. The shops are clean. The shop owners are hard-working, polite. People smile at you on the streets. Its been said Venice’s best days are behind it, but I disagree. I’m already scheming of a way to go back and spend an extended winter.
The scarves, totally dictated by the time of year, were the most interesting expressions of each person’s personality. It was cold enough to need them in the evening. Men and women, alike, wore them. But they wore them differently. You could pick out the tourist from the locals, or more specifically, the European tourist from the rest, in how they styled their scarves. Walking out of the Basilica on our first day into the fog, I wrapped my scarf in a utilitarian way to warm my neck. Then, quickly realized it was just as much a fashion piece as it was a necessity.
Spritzer, was ubiquitous. We stopped for a drink, finding a table on a small square with a few bars and shops. My husband fetched the drinks, returning with a bright orange beverage poured over ice into a wine glass with a green olive garnish. “When in Rome?” Or in this case, “When in Venice”. Despite being orange, it didn’t have a strong orange taste. It had a bitters taste. You know that orange bitters stuff you put in a cocktail? The bitters were poured over white wine. I didn’t dig it. But, wow, everyone else did.
I noted on another page in my journal that there are few trees in Venice. You can find them in the handful of public parks, or in some of the remaining private gardens. There is very little exposed soil, which explains the lack of tress. May not be as striking an observation for some, but for us, who live in the Western US, it was noticeable. The funny thing about this observation, is it took until the second day to occur to us. There are beautiful flowers potted and hanging throughout the city. Hanging from window boxes or set with care outside a shop door, there is natural beauty on this man-made island. Just not the kind of nature we were use to.
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