After spending a week hiking in the mountains, 12 of us spent 2 nights in Venice! And after spending a week hiking in the mountains, 12 of us spent 2 nights in Venice! I was giddily anticipating this, because I had read that the tourist load was at 30% of “normal”, and of course we ALL read about how clean everything was after 18 months without tourists.
The only other time I’ve been to Venice was in 1990, during a multi-month vagabonding through Europe. I was taking trains from Brindisi, Italy to Vienna, Austria, and was laid-over in Venice for two hours. I remember standing on the famous Rialto Bridge, in a crush of bodies, thinking, “OK. I never have to come here again.” St Mark’s square was FILTHY, and the canals stank.
Although our stay was short, it was so very sweet! Because of covid, it was important to make reservations at restaurants; the places you wanted to eat at (where the locals eat) didn’t accept walk-ins. (FYI—every restaurant requires you to show proof of vaccination.) The two restaurants recommended to me (thank you, Becky Black!) were authentic, slow-food places. And this surprised me—Venetians eat A LOT of octopus and prawns! I ate anchovies for my first time—a dish of vermicelli pasta with an anchovy-based cream sauce; absolutely delicious, if a little salty.
And we did some touristy things, too—we visited the Doge’s Palace with a private tour guide, some of us took a gondola ride underneath the Rialto Bridge, and some of us watched a private glassblowing demonstration—then we shopped for all kinds of the famous Venetian glass—glasses, jewelry, ornaments, pendant light shades, etc. I think that was a highlight for me in Venice—browsing the many galleries, awed by the incredible glass artistry! (The sculptures below are 100% blown glass–NOT painted!)
So yes, the canals didn’t stink, and the water was much cleaner; and even though Venice was still more crowded than I prefer, it wasn’t nearly as crowded as it could’ve been—if you left the main squares, and just lost yourself in the many alleyways, you actually found yourself alone and in quiet places.
OH—and we saw a Banksy along the Grand Canal!