A couple of days ago I came back from Venice (if you have me on Instagram, my incessant photo uploads would have been unavoidable) – I went for a long weekend, which was exactly what I needed… a change of scenery from the crazy busy life of London.
I was really nervous about going to Italy actually, because I’d dreamed about going for so many years. I thought that I’d probably over-romanticized it – in movies it looks incredible, I’m a huge lover of pizza and pasta (who isn’t?!), Italian men feature in my day dreams occasionally, and whenever I see photos, it blows me away. But everything I thought about it was true, it was – dare I say it – magical.
If I’m being honest, I’d waited to go to Venice because I thought it was a place you should only go when you’re part of a couple – everyone says it’s so romantic. And it is. But why should I wait? It is romantic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go as a solo traveller – it’s romantic for many other reasons ASIDE from being a cute place to go with your other half.
It’s romantic because you can just spend the day wandering around charming laneways and side streets, getting lost, stumbling upon cute shops/galleries/museums and stopping for wine/food/both at any point. I did this a lot – I said goodbye to my maps and just walked around aimlessly, in awe of all of the amazing buildings around me. At one point, I came across a little square, where a guy was playing the cello in front of a church… I could have listened to him for hours. On the other hand, I also wandered into an area with a seagull that literally attacked and killed a pigeon – THEN ATE IT. So it wasn’t beautiful around every corner.
I spent one of my days cruising around on water taxis, visiting a couple of islands called ‘Murano’ and ‘Burano’. The former known for glass blowing, and the latter known for lace making. Again, both ridiculously pretty places, but the bright and colourful houses of ‘Burano’ won it for me – it was like the cooler brother of Balamory (way cooler, and probably something I shouldn’t compare it to). Travel writers will be cursing me.
One of the things I was most looking forward to from my trip was the food… you’re a liar if you say that’s not one of the main reasons you visit Italy. It’s safe to say my stomach expanded almost immediately, and I probably put on a stone in about 24 hours. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but I’ve got to say I had the best pizza I’ve ever had, from a takeaway shop on the island I was staying on (Giudecca). I also drank a fair amount of wine – tried Aperol Spritz, wasn’t a fan.
What’s funny about Venice is that the buildings are so dilapidated and old, but people absolutely love them – I think that it’s probably the case even more so now that everything is becoming so modern and flashy. I love the history, and I don’t necessarily mean historical facts – I love historical architecture. The buildings are charming, they hold authenticity, they belonged to what I like to believe were amazing eras. I’m drawn to places that hold a lot of history, and look like they do. That’s why I love Durham and Lincoln, and why my favourite place in the UK is York.
But anyway, I’m going off on a tangent. What else did I do? Well, I didn’t go on a gondola… I know, did I even go to Venice?! I ticked St Mark’s Basilica off the list, and it was well worth it – although I did not stand in the massive queue, I bought a skip-the-line entry online (naturally, there was a line for the skip-the-line), but it only took about 10 minutes. It was magnificent. I don’t really use that word but that’s the only word that describes it properly… it’s just breathtaking. Although remember to wear something that covers your shoulders and legs, otherwise you have to buy ugly orangey-brown sheets to cover yourself up with.
The dream would be to just up and leave to Italy, freelance over there and learn Italian. Basically, Venice absolutely stole my heart, and I’d go back there in an instant.