This is not a miracle, for this is not America…
I’m swearing to myself that I’m not going to leave Venice without some of those retarded Venetian Sunglasses Kanye wears. So far I haven’t seen any.
Up to this point, we couldn’t shake the feeling like we were in just another suburb of New York.
Stepping out of the train station, it feels like we’re in another world entirely. Rome may have been around for far longer but when the emigrants reminisce over the old country, this must be what they were thinking of. As soon as we stepped off the train in Venice, there was no longer any question of where on earth we were.
Rome is the capital of a third-world country in comparison to the majesty of Venice. Rome was miserably hot, had lackluster food, was disgustingly filthy, was home to 85% of Europe’s homeless population and it was an expensive experience to boot. If you’ve always dreamed of experiencing all of that but couldn’t afford tickets to Rome, just fly to Atlanta instead. We’ve got you covered.
Aside from the expense, Venice is none of those things.
There are no roads, not a single car to be seen– just water channels for the passage of boats and a maze of alleyways for traversal by foot. Boats of all sizes float down the channels like spaceships. It’s the future envisioned by The Fifth Element come to life, only it’s hundreds of years old.
Venice just gets more and more surreal– walking around, one has to consider the stories told by these twisted passages.
We’re passing countless doors to residences and shops that have been around for generations. From shore to shore Venice feels ancient. Stop and point in any direction. For whatever building or divide you see, there are probably hundreds of stories that could be told about its inhabitants over the course of centuries– loves found, fortunes lost, schemes hatched, bodies dumped.
Or imagine growing up here as a child, not able to go outside and play without your overbearing Italian mother nagging you to stay away from the water?
Maybe that last part is a stretch. We saw some 12-year-old girls hanging out on the edge of a channel and smoking cigarettes.
The food here looks and smells amazing. Food in Rome ranged from “this isn’t even fully microwaved” to “decent” at best. In Venice we find ourselves wanting to eat literally everything we come across.
Venice is synonymous with its canals. There are more canals in Venice than you can shake a stick at. But not every street is adjacent to one, which can make booking a hotel with a view of anything challenging. To be fair, you could probably pick a hotel at random and it’ll be on a canal of some kind, but it’s something to consider.
For the first time this trip (outside of palaces and churches) we’re seeing architecture with some semblance of style. This finally feels like a place we don’t see every day.
Europe has no shortage of underemployed youth with too much time on their hands. This is evident when you look at the amount of graffiti covering every scalable surface.
It’s interesting to see how the undertones change depending on where you go. Rome’s graffiti was all about national identity (“SPQR” can be found everywhere) whereas Venice’s tends to be more artsy or political.
One experience I don’t know how to explain so well is the disjointed feeling of isolation one can get in Venice. You may walk down alleys for 10 minutes straight without seeing another person around. It’s creepy. But then you turn a corner and enter a main passage and it’s as crowded as Disney World.
You can always hear the crowds around you, even when you can’t see them. It’s no wonder Venice served as a backdrop for one of the Assassin’s Creed games. You could shank someone and disappear in a moment’s notice.
The Dal Moro Saga
We’ve been dying to eat meat that isn’t ham or prosciutto for almost a week now. Rome wanted €20 for a hamburger. We’re seeing sidewalk cafes selling them for €6 in Venice. The pizza in Rome wasn’t much better than frozen pizzas in America either, which was disappointing. We’re in Italy– where’s the pizza of legend that every chain in America claims ties to? Apparently only Venetians know how to do it right.
We spent more time than we probably should have trying to track down Dal Moro’s, the highest-rated pasta joint on TripAdvisor. And it’s fast food, no less.
It was not easy to find, but if you have GPS you’d probably be fine. We just had a shitty map. Venetian alleys do not all have names and defy all attempts at cartography so it’s a wonder we found it at all.
Located in the shadow of Saint Mark’s, they don’t have seating in or around the storefront so you’re supposed to take your food elsewhere to eat it and bring the trash back. Like in Japan there’s probably some unspoken protocol you’re supposed to follow but we hadn’t divined what it was, just that it’s not legal to eat on the bridges– which happened to be the only place around one could reasonably sit and eat.
We did it anyway but I spent the whole time fearing we were going to end up like Amanda Knox.
In the end it was totally worth it. The pasta with four-cheese sauce and chicken sausage was definitely worth going to prison for.
It was hands-down the best pasta we’d ever had in our lives. And it was cheap!