In Casino Royale, Daniel Craig, as James Bond, races around Venice. In the film the city looks so gorgeous. (As does Daniel Craig) Lovely old buildings, the weaving canals – a-one-of-a-kind city. What those scenes don’t show are all the tourists. So many tourists. I can’t be too critical. I was one of them. But just 24-hours changed my views of Venice and its elegance.
It doesn’t help matters that the Venetians don’t seem to like ramps. Every canal has a bridge, but we only saw one with a ramp of any kind. Even the modern bridges were all stairs. This city attracts an average of 15 million visitors each year. That means 15 million people pulling their luggage up and down these stairs.
It took four bridges to get to our hotel. Our triple room turned out to be an apartment right on a canal. We worked out the air conditioning, cooled down and then ventured outside.
Venice is a city you should, and can very easily, get lost in. Fun right? Definitely. We put our map away and just walked. For hours. Passed the many, many shops selling glasswear, Venetian costume masks, bags, lace and so much more. There was also no shortage of gelato vendors and cafes advertising free wifi.
The main shopping strip looks no different to any other part of the city. The same beautiful buildings, just with better window displays. There is no method to the streets. You can be following a line of shops and hotels and suddenly there’s no one about and a string of clothes drying above your head.
We sat by the Grand Canal for a while. The whole time I was thinking about images I’d seen of Venice, such as the scenes in Casino Royale, and struggled to reconcile that this was the same city. I can’t really explain what was so different. It just seemed a little gimmicky to me. And yes the gondolas look great, but at 80 euro a trip (100 euro if it’s after 7pm) ít’s a rort.
What I found most interesting was the simple substitution of roads for water. Anything that would happen on the roads in Rome was happening in the canals of Venice. Boats jetted by at a speed not normally seen in such busy waters. They also went where ever they liked. There was a slight left/right divide, but everyone seemed pretty flexible on the subject. It’s a lot of fun to watch.
After picking up some groceries we cooked dinner back at the apartment. It’s still so hot so we only last so long outside before we’re retreating either into some indoor attraction or back to our room to cool down. Highlight of the day? Having my first granita. A deliciously cold flavoured slushy drink. Oh so so needed in this weather.