None of us slept very well, but at least it’s morning. Our little guest house stirs with people in the dining area and we join them for breakfast of cappucino, cocoapuffs with boxed milk and sliced salami on hard rolls. Ca’riccio
is a 7-room guest house that’s very adequate, if simple. In high season (It’s Easter week) we feel fortunate to have a decent place that’s affordable. (I think this was about $200/night for 4 people)
Venice isn’t laden with activities and destinations you need to hit on a rapid-fire itinerary. Like Bruges or Salzburg, it’s a European town that’s about atmosphere and charm. And the lines between authentic and reproduction are blurred. It’s both a tourist trap and a living museum. I have to wonder if Disney models it, or it models Disney
. But it’s fun nonetheless.
We begin our walk with no particular destination in mind; winding south toward the bay and the Piazza San Marco. Emma and Lily are giggly with excitement. They form a 2-girl conga line and dance through the alleys and streets. Emma is a little disappointed that we walk everywhere, she thought there were no streets whatsoever – only canals and boats. But the windy passageways, foot bridges and canals are still exciting to roam for a kid.
The stores are just opening, it’s about 9:30am. We’re in an area that feels like a luxury mall with typical European high-fashion stores. We find an odd one called Fiorella gallery where Trish tries on an ankle length silver velvet coat with hand-painted skulls. It’s so her, but heart-breakingly, it’s just not affordable ($1100 lol.) It stays on the rack.
We reach the main square and the thick line for the basilica San Marco are at least 150 yards long. The bell tower next door is about the same. Apparently the tour groups get an early start on the main attractions in Venice. The Creekmores rarely stand in a line that long. It’s one of our rules. Instead we head toward the bay and hop on a busy water bus back north along the grand canal.
We hop off a Academie, where there are a few museums. The Peggy Gugenheim is closed on Mondays and we do the instead. The girls are surprisingly happy to wander the portraits and religious art, especially the creepy pictures of men holding skulls and beheaded enemies. Amidst a throng of tourists, the girls find a man walking two pugs and stop traffic as they play adorably with the little dogs.
Venice is the home and birthplace of Vivaldi. There are performances of Le Quattro Stagioni playing daily somewhere in Venice. We happen on an exhibition of ancient string instruments that fascinates Emma, who began playing th violin this year in school. Lutes, Lira, harps cellos and violins of all sizes and engineering were on display.
Back at San Marco square, we wait in a much diminished line to go up the tallest tower in Venice, to see the view of the city. It’s worth it, although the sky is darkening and Lily begins to tire out. Venice is constructed on a series of over a hundred islands in a lagoon formed at the top of the adriatic sea and the mouth of the Po river. It’s tiny, with only 60,000 residents in the center city (and about an equal number of toursts daily.) It’s amazing that such a small, challenged, city was the center of world trade and power for so many centuries.
Lily is officially in a full meltdown, providing our cue to get the hell out. We move in high-speed back to the hotel, stopping only to scarf down a few pizzas at one nearby trattorias. Sleep comes quickly and hard for us all. I finally get Lily and Emma up around 6pm, and we all feel refreshed for the first time this trip. The hotel has fixed the internet connection too, so Trish and I can connect with the blog and post.
Toward evening we head to Osteria Vivaldi; a dark corner restaurant with great carpaccio. We have been very fortunate with food so far; keep the recommendations coming! The light drizzle turns to a downpour on the long walk back. The grand canal sloshes up on the streets. Even in the cold, we stop for gelatto at the local crepe stand.
Trish falls asleep quickly. The girls and I get to bed later. After I turn out the lights, I hear Lily whisper to Emma that she is afraid, and asks if she could sleep with her. Emma warmly invites Lily to lie down next to her on her tiny bed, and waits until Lily is safely asleep to take the free bed. It’s a selfless display of unconditional sisterly love. Nothing in Venice can top a moment like that.