Completing unfinished business in Venice

As images go, could this *be* any more Venice?

We’re now fully into the swing of things in our annual summer road trip. This is the third year in a row we’ve bundled the kids and as much gear as we can fit into the car and headed to Europe. The 2018 edition takes in France, Italy, Austria and Switzerland – we’re currently by Lake Garda.

Actually, we’ve booked a caravan in the same campsite we stayed in with old uni friends and their three kids last year. We’re back because (a) we liked it and (b) we have unfinished business here.

It was here last year that Heather stubbed a toe against a chair. This resulted in a broken bone, a day in A&E and curtailed plans for the rest of the holiday. One of the things that was sacrificed was a day trip to Venice. We finally rectified that omission today.

Heather and I had been to Venice before, pre-kids, on a cold, misty late October day. We were both slightly underwhelmed.

This time, with three kids in tow, we thought we’d do it in the height of summer. So, of course, we arrived in the city in the middle of a biblical rainstorm.

Venice in any weather during the summer is a heaving mass of tourists and tourist infrastructure. Gondolas. Tat shops. And long queues for the city’s main attractions. In many ways Venice is a victim of its own success. It is one of the most popular and romantic tourist destinations in the world. And yet its compact centre with its narrow streets can be singularly unpleasant simply because there are so many tourists.

Did we fall in love with Venice second time around? Not quite. It’s a little too crowded and overtly commercial for that. But it is a beautiful city that is at its finest when you venture off the beaten track away from the crowds. Exploring the maze of narrow back streets, there are hidden delights around every corner, from fine squares and churches to small restaurants too obscure for the mass hordes.

And even in the ‘big’ spots, there are rewarding and iconic photo opportunities to be captured, from the iconic set-pieces of Piazza San Marco, the Rialto Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs to more serendipitous shots such as this one.

A year after missing out, it was worth coming back for, and not just to complete unfinished business.


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