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Dear Venice. A Love Letter

by Bianca @ Italian Fix

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If you haven’t seen the news this week, Venice has been hit by severe flooding. 

It’s heartbreaking to see the toll it’s taken on the city, and the way it’s impacting the thousands of small businesses that live and thrive there.

Venetians are no strangers to this. They’re tough biscottis –– we’ve seen them pull through floods in the past, and we have no doubt they’ll pull through again.

We see this cycle happening over and over again: flooding hits Venice, tourists leave, Venice recovers and small businesses are left in the lurch.

Venice is really just one of the most magical places on earth, where you can cruise through the canals and swap cars for gondolas. And for that reason, it depends on sustainable tourism in order to thrive.

This is a call to not ditch Venice in 2020, and a love letter for the little things we love about her.

Even if the idea of visiting a watery city gone extra-watery seems wacky right now, we’re determined to continue supporting Venice, its businesses and residents in our 2020 season.

Whether you’re planning to go already or debating whether a visit to really makes sense, read through our love list first.

We Love: Venetian Foodie Rituals

Venetian food sets itself apart because of its history: we are obsessed with the fact that their food culture is rooted in its history of being a bustling center of commerce for, like, ever. With ships arriving from Asia or headed for faraway places over centuries, Venetians have been incorporating spices and flavors from all over the world into their own traditional food for a long time: think ginger, nutmeg, licorice and even curry!

If you want to eat like a local, these are Venetian traditions we love:

  • Classic Venetian snacks in classic Venetian taverns. Or in Italian, cicchetti in bacari. Cichetti is Venice’s version of tapas –– think volumes of salami, salmon with mustard, meatballs, caprese –– mmm. Our mouths are watering already. And no day in Venice is complete without an aperitivo in a bacari with lots and lots of cicchetti. Try Trattoria alla Vedova.
  • The Spritz. Speaking of aperitivo, The Spritz is the classic Venetian aperitivo, good at almost any time of the day or night. It’s made up of one third white wine (or Prosecco, our personal pick), one third sparkling water, and one third flavoring, which you need to tell the waiter. Your spritz is likely made with Aperol, but you might opt for a Campari spritz instead.
  • Early morning pastries at the pasticceria. Strolling the streets of Venice early in the morning is not only the best way to experience it sans crowds, but you’ll also find many locals getting first dibs on freshly baked pastries while everything is calm and quiet. Even if you’re not a morning person, you won’t be the same after you try a cappuccino and croissant at Pasticceria Ballarin first thing in the AM. On Sunday, make like an Italian and grab a selection of small pastries (they sell them by weight) and bring them home for a post-lunch treat.

venice flooding restaurant

venice flooding sitting on a bridge

We Love: The Stuff That’s So Venice.

There are some things you should skip in Venice, and others that we love to love –– no matter how corny they might seem.

They make Venice Venice. It’s the essence of this place and you gotta indulge in these experiences.

These are some of our non-negotiable, very Venice-y things we hope to enjoy forever:

  • Walking along The Rialto Bridge. Ah, the bridge that inspired thousands of watercolors and sketches. She’s the oldest bridge in the city, and frankly, pretty darn gorgeous. We love coming here super early in the morning (if you’re sensing a theme here, you’re right) after stopping to check out the Rialto Market, where you can actually take a moment in this iconic spot and chat with local vendors. They’re the ones who are hit hardest by flooding, so supporting them is a thumbs up in our books.
  • Cruising through the canals, via gondola. You can’t come to Italy and *not* take part in this oh-so-Italian experience. Gondola rides might sound tourist-trappy, but if you’re ever going to do it, it should be in Venice. We always suggest a private vaporetto or gondola to guide you –– they’ll show you the less touristy corners of the city that you wouldn’t get to see otherwise! On our Greatest Hits tour, which is our Rome to Venice tour, this is how we welcome our guests to this enchanting city on their first night. Kitsch? Yes. Iconic? Also yes.
  • Stopping into palaces for free opera performances. We head to spots like the Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto for Musica a Palazzo, a group that performs opera concerts right within the audience in gorgeously old and ornate rooms, no stage needed. Everyone deserves to feel like a royal at some point, and Venice is a gracious enabler.
  • Feeling out all the festivals. No matter what season it is, we love that Venice is in the mood to throw a festival. She’s been through so much over the years, but it won’t stop her! Whether it’s fireworks, theater performances, impromptu concerts or celebrating the harvest, Venice has always found a way to give thanks for making it through a disaster and celebrating, well, being alive! It’s a true mark of the city’s resilience and commitment to fun.

venice flooding details

venice flooding st. marks

venice flooding rialto bridge

We Love: Supporting Local.

We love it hard. Not only because they offer the under-the-radar experiences we adore in Venice, but because they are masters of their craft and stubbornly insist on making it their life’s work to practice it every single day.

These ones constantly and literally blow us away:

  • Glassblowers on Murano Island. The artisan workshops, the galleries, the showrooms –– all this glass is so groovy and gorgeous to be around. This art form goes back to the eighth century and it’s still going strong.
  • Ancient book stores. We love gritty old bookstores like the Acqua Alta Bookshop –– it’s no regular bookstore, it’s truly another world entirely. Piles of books reach the ceiling, cats are everywhere and there’s a bathtub in the middle of a room.
  • Vintage Venetian fashion markets. Strolling and shopping the fashion markets in Venice is almost the best way to get to know the city. Besides fab finds, it’s the conversations with the stallowners and the Venetians that have been here for years that tell you the stories you just can’t find in a travel guide.

venice flooding ancient bookstores

venice flooding Venetian opera

venice flooding local markets

Venice is flooding now, but don’t be deterred — Venice always bounces back.

Looking for more Venice resources? Check these out:

venice flooding st. marks sunset

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