I wanted to spend my last day in Venice getting to know a little bit about how the Venetians go about their daily lives. I got up early and set out to find some breakfast.
Two bridges over from hotel, in a tight little alley, I found a small bakery that must have opened hours ago because the windows were already full of still warm loaves, baguettes, and pastries.
The lovely aproned and flour-dusted woman running the front counter knew just enough English to explain that the bakery had been in her family for over 120 years, and that the wall-sized oven dominating the back of the store was the original one used by her great, great, great-grandfather.
Since my Mama didn’t raise no fool, I had her load up a bag with goodies so that I could run back to my hotel to drop off my stash for later.
Setting back out, apple and cinnamon flakey pocket of buttery deliciousness in hand, I wandered the streets and watched the neighborhood come alive.
Little old ladies, dragging empty carts behind them, hurried to their local butcher to snag the plumpest chicken for that night’s supper. Men and women leisurely walked their oft unleashed furry friends along the canals. Stocky and deeply tanned men garbed in light-colored clothing and paint-splattered work boots carried buckets of tools to their designated construction sites. (Venice seemed to be under constant construction). And impeccably dressed gentlemen of a certain age strolled the streets enjoying their decades-old morning rituals.
La dolce vita.
I found a nice sunny table at a corner cafe and sat back to take it all in over a cappuccino.
Fully caffeinated, I turned right where yesterday I had turned left and set out to explore the other side of the city.
Venice is built on 118 different islands that are separated by 150 canals. Over 400 foot bridges connect the streets to one another. The buildings are constructed on top of centuries old piles made out of the highly water-resistant trunks of alder trees. (Tree trunks, dude. CENTURIES OLD tree trunks.) It is the only functioning European city where life and commerce are performed entirely without cars or trucks.
Like ants within the chambers of their hill, these boats make their way daily through the canals so that the neighborhood markets can meet their loyal customers’ needs.
Tourism is one of the main drivers of the Venetian economy. The city gets and average of fifty thousand tourists per day. Which means there is plenty of opportunity for a budding entrepreneur.
It really is incredible how life is lived here. You don’t realize how stressful a life surrounded by automobiles can be until you spend a few days living without a single one in sight.
It was coming up on noon and since I had already been out for almost five hours I decided on an early lunch and snagged a coveted outdoor spot at Trattoria da GiGio.
The lunch at GiGio’s was one of the most memorable meals of my entire trip. And not just because of the pork chop.
I spent the rest of my afternoon winding my way through the maze that is Venice; finding beautiful art and other treasures inside of seemingly bland buildings and churches and stopping here and there to savor the local treats.
I got back to my hotel with another bag full of goodies (meats, cheeses and fruit) and had an impromptu picnic on the back dock of the hotel, where I tried, in vain, to capture the beauty of yet another magnificent Venetian sunset.
I’ve got one other thing to tell you about my final hours in Venice, but it deserves its own little post. So keep an eye out for it this Sunday.
Have a great weekend miei cari!