May 1, 2011: Our first and only day in the Sinking City during our first European backpacking adventure.
I remember it clear as day. We arrived in Mestre bright and early after our overnight train from Paris pulled into the station. We wandered around and found our little bed and breakfast before freshening up and jumping across the pond into the actual city. We walked through the streets and canals, burnt our noses during a wonderfully sunny May day, and dined at an exquisite sea-side pasta restaurant. We spent 11 days in Europe in 2011, and our single day in Venice was the day we were most fond of.
This meant it had to be on our itinerary in 2016. One day was clearly not enough to enjoy the Venetian canals. Two days this time, for sure, would continue our love affair with Venice.
In hindsight, we should have skipped over Venice this time around.
The city has been run afoul with tourists, ultra high-end fashion shops, arrogant and stubborn restaurant owners, and endless, useless trinket shops. Jaclyn and I spent six hours walking to, around, and from Piazza San Marco, and we knew we had no passion to return. It’s a giant maze full of hot, sweaty tourists and super-snobby shops only the greatest of us can afford.
To get away from some of the bustle, we walked into the Venetian Ghetto in search of food, (some) peace, and a more natural sense of Venice.
But to really get away from the Venetian crowds, we hopped on the hour-long ferry ride to Burano. We saw photos of the colourful island prior to the trip and knew we needed to shoot our own.
What we discovered was the intricacy and delicacy of Burano’s lace market. Jaclyn came home with a small — and highly expensive — lace doily, and that doily helps to symbolize the once powerful Venetian trading market and highly skilled craftsmen of the region.
Burano’s streets had a feeling of the Venice we visited in 2011. Tourists weren’t as plentiful and the shops felt more genuine. Actual citizens lived within those Buranese homes. Actual citizens flee those homes when storms arise. In the heart of Burano lies a real piece of Venice that Venice itself can no longer boast about.
Skipping over Venice would have been a mistake. The city’s never ending beauty always lies somewhere beneath the hustle of the tourists above. Small moments of silence can still be had, especially if you make a wrong turn. In those moments, the Venice of today feels somewhat like the Venice of yesterday.
But it’s no longer what it was. Venice will slowly be replaced by another, more genuine destination. Wherever that destination, Venice needs to stand as a used, worn out monument in desperate need of revitalization.