« Almost Robbed, Again!!! | Main | Photos of Herzog & de Meuron's Prada Tokyo »

December 8, 2004

Italy Trip Wrap Up

It's been exactly one week since we got back from Italy. I've tried to let the experiences and memories settle a bit before writing this wrap up (okay, I was just tired and didn't feel like it).

So, how was the trip? Sadly, not great. Believe me, it gives me no pleasure to be contrarian (as everyone else I know who has gone to Italy absolutely loves it), but I simply didn't enjoy it as much as I had hoped.

Was it the two robberies? No. It didn't help, but it wasn't. (Really, it's not. I had my then-brand-new camcorder stolen in Amsterdam and that didn't ruin my trip there.)

I think a lot had to do with my sky-high expectations. For example, I had good food, but that ultimately proved disappointing because I wanted amazing food. I'm sure there are amazing food in Italy, we just weren't lucky enough to come across any of it. Okay, we did have one amazing dish in Le Calandre (which proved disappointing overall), but that was it for the entire trip.

Anyway, most of why I didn't love the trip were detailed in my mid-trip report, so I won't repeat them here.

Instead, I'll tell you about my favorite art and favorite moment in Italy.

My favorite art:

Out of all the art history book stuff we saw (the Sistine Chapel, the Last Supper, the Birth of Venus to name but a few), what moved me was Michelangelo's David. Why? It just did. Great art does that to you. (Though for some reason, paintings don't do anything for me. At least the medieval and Renaissance ones don't. Maybe I'm too ignorant to appreciate them, who knows?)

My favorite moment:

It was almost 11 at night as we arrived in Venice by car. After parking in the garage at the edge of the city we crossed a small bridge and entered Venice proper.

It was quiet and deserted. The only sounds we heard were of the water crashing against the sides of the canals. It's hard to describe that moment, "mysterious" is a word that comes to mind. It's unlike any city I've ever seen. No people. No cars. No bikes. Just narrow canals after narrow canals and small bridges after small bridges. It was surreal. The darkness added to the allure of the unknown. Wandering around the empty city, crossing the endless maze-like tangle of alleys and canals, looking for a room to stay, even though we were tired from a long day and were carrying heavy luggage, I almost didn't want it to end. Even now, I can hear the sounds of our footsteps and the waters reverberating in the still of that night.

I've heard from more than one friend who's been to Italy that Venice doesn't need more than a day or so. How wrong they were! What I was never told was how amazing the city itself is. It might not have as much to "see" as Florence or Rome, but the city itself is its greatest attraction. I love cities more than the art or artifacts they might hold so it's perfect for me. I could happily wander for days in the quiet residential parts of the city, photographing every corner.

I know I complained about how touristy Italy is and how the sheer mass of tourists bothered the hell out of me; and, yes, Venice is every bit as touristy as anywhere else in Italy, more so, even. But find a quiet corner, especially at night, and all its mysterious charms will reveal themselves.

Filed Under: Travel