Venice is a mystical, magical dream land. And one thing that makes it so unique, other than being a city built on water, is the lack of car traffic and noise. No roads, no cars, no horns, no screeching tires. Just the clipity-clop of heels and toes against the old cobblestones.
Venice is a city best explored on foot. Meander the mazes of calle. Get lost in the alleys. Yes, many a calle is mistakenly navigated, only to wind up at an impasse. A dead end. A canal. No bridge to cross, no corner to turn. Only the possibility of retracing your steps, searching for another option, and…getting stuck yet again.
And since Venice is made up of 117 little islands, those ubiquitous little footbridges are a means of connecting the dots and allowing you to get around on foot, crossing the more than 150 canals, without relying on public canal transportation.
Venice has more than 400 bridges. Some, which are famous, like the Accademia and the Rialto bridges on the Grand Canal.
And while beautiful and well traveled, I prefer finding the small, unusual, unknown, tiny foot bridges that don’t appear on any map. Some have iron railings, others do not. Many offer views of Venetian laundry hanging against worn ocher-hued palazzos.
On others, you can stand, gaze down and watch two lovebirds glide underneath in their gondola, looking as smitten as if on a real tunnel of love.
It is the very process of trying to get somewhere by way of map, and giving up, no longer caring about the map or the final destination, but only the journey, that lets you discover and fall in love with Venice. The real Venice. You suddenly abandon your travel to-do list, in favor of the unknown.
It becomes fun to explore, to see where the calle and bridges will carry you. Although, I must admit fun was not the four-letter F-word I was uttering on my first trip to Venice as I traversed many footbridges on my way from Piazza San Marco to my B&B on the Campo San Maurizio, with heavy luggage in tow.
No, that was a very different F-word entirely. Funny, those map makers always fail to point out how many bridges and the endless number of steps there are. It felt like a thousand that day. Especially after an entire day of travel. That experience alone motivated me to become a carry-on traveler!
It didn’t change my mind about Venice, though. I don’t think anything ever could.
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