After picking up a magazine today and seeing a picture of the famed gondolas of Venice it got me reminiscing about my trip to this fantastic city. I love Venice and all things Italian… the history, the culture, the food, the buildings, the people, and mostly the gelato. (chocolate, of course)

Pigging out on gelato...


On the Rialto bridge!

The advice I had was that I could bring a map but it wouldn’t be much use as the city is far too confusing and maps are often incorrect.  One of the tour guides said she’d prefer that we experience Venice not knowing what we’d find. She was right. Navigating the tiny alleys of Venice is like trying to find your way around a labyrinth blindfolded. Like most travellers, I got lost in this amazing city and honestly, it was a good thing. I managed to stumble upon some of the best boutiques, restaurants and gelaterias this way.

Quiet Venice morning...

The only piece of knowledge the Guide gave before setting us all free was that many of the corner buildings in any intersection contained signs that pointed your way to two places: the Rialto bridge, and St. Mark’s Square. She said we’d meet back in St. Mark’s Square at 5pm so as to catch the water taxi back to Jesolo. Sounded good to me.

I lost myself in the city… wandering down intricate alleys, meandering through a maze of narrow lanes that led to small open areas, coming across endless shops and restaurants.

Awesome little "ristorante"....

Venice is full of rustic buildings, stone alley ways, romantic canals and delightful aromas to entice even the most picky appetites. After a spectacular lunch of consisting what Italy has perfected – pasta – my travel bud, Erin and I went off to savour more of the city.

It’s true that time flies when you are having fun. We had wandered through the maze of the city and had no idea where we were in relation to the meeting place. It was 20 minutes until our meeting time. Erin, who was then joined by a couple of our other travel buddies decided to take a quick washroom break and find their way back to the meeting place. I, however, wasn’t leaving Venice until I had one of those beautiful decorative masks they are known for.  With mask in hand I emerge from the boutique and look for the signs to lead me where I need to go. One problem: there were no signs.  I do a complete 360 degree turn, no signs anywhere. I take the nearest alley, hoping it will lead me to an open area where those buildings would have signs. I was right, sort of. It lead me to an open area, but no signs.

At this point, I was getting panicky. I imagined a scene in a movie when the camera shows a close up of me and then pans out to show an aerial of the city and just how far I actually am from where I need to go. Each open area had at least five alleys that led off of it. And I had no idea if any particular one was just leading me further away.

I do a speedy version of “eenie meenie” and pick alley number 2. It looked the exact same as the one I’d already come up moments ago, but wasn’t. It led me to a new opening. Big surprise, no signs. This had to be some sort of colossal joke. A humorous trick they play on dumb tourists like myself. I imagined a few clever locals taking down the signs as I approached each opening and then hiding, giggling to themselves. Thankfully, I then see two seemingly Venetian women talking against a wall. I approach and in my best Italian accent I spurt out “Mi scusi. Piazza san marco?”   The two ladies smiled and one pointed to alley number 4, the other to alley number 3 and neither alley went in the same direction. Big help this was. I left them in what appeared to be a spat about which of them was correct. I had no time to find out. I took alley number 3, started actually running at this point and came to an opening with a sign that pointed to the exact alley I just came from as the way to St. Mark’s Square.

Yahhhhhhh, I just came that way....

Panicked, I go back, reach the next opening and take alley number 4. Half way down it I come across an old woman who is dressed like the old lady in a story I had as a child of “Hansel and Gretel”. She’s walking with a little boy. I wondered if she’d already eaten the little girl when I reached her. Kidding, of course. I approached her, out of breath and afraid “Mi scusi, piazza san marco?” I blurted out and gestured that I didn’t know which way to go. She answered me in full Italian. Which would have been fine, if oh-I-don’t-know maybe I knew some of the language. I knew zero Italian. I listened intently as she gestured and rhymed out the instructions. I picked out something about what sounded like a “bridge”, a “shoe”, something about a “rolling pin”, a “mouse” and I think the last thing she said was “salami”.  I must’ve looked baffled because she extended her hand, smiled and motioned for me to follow her. What a sweetheart. The only problem now was that she was walking so slow that unless St. Mark’s Square was inches from where we were there was no way I was going to make it. After five minutes, and about 15 feet of alley, she brought me into an opening and pointed to the building to my right. Alas, a sign that showed the way.

Much to my amazement, I was back at St. Mark’s Square in minutes, reunited with Erin who’d found a gelateria and was quietly enjoying it. I’d probably only been a few streets over and managed to go around and around in a circle. That must’ve been entertaining for the countless people who were eating and probably watched me run back and forth in front of their restaurant window more than once.

Venice, you can be a menace, but gosh you are fantastic!

Yes I do....