Monday, June 21, 2010

Venice: Italy's Disneyland

I think I can summarize my impressions of Venice in a few bullets.
-The city is a cleverly crafted scam. Example: the free map of the city gets you hopelessly lost, the "good" map will cost you €2.50. The house wine at the pizzeria is bland and tasteless. The Bascilica of San Marco is free to get in, but it costs money to go on the balcony.
-The city is extortion. Public toilets cost €1.50 in exact change.
-The city is Disneyland. There are stores EVERYWHERE trying to sell you kitschy "cultural" items like Carnival masks. One of the outlying islands, Murano, consists entirely of glass factories and glass shops. Basically, if you don't care about glass, don't bother.
-Gondolas are exclusively for old Japanese people with bad perms.
-It's a miracle that the pigeons in St. Marco's Square aren't too obese to fly. These same aforementioned old Japanese people enjoy wasting perfectly good Italian rolls on them and getting pecked, clawed and shat on for their trouble.
-Unless you have very deep pockets, expect to survive on street food.
-Anchovies are crap. I'd forgotten how much I hate them. Seriously, why don't they just throw seawater on the pizza and get it over with.
-No reason for the worst rain I've seen in ages to fall almost the whole time I'm in Venice.

All in all though, I'm glad I want. The city is beautiful, surreal, disorienting in the most artful way. Walking through the narrow streets with not the sound of a gasoline engine to be heard is an experience worth all the extortion and touristy lameness. No words can describe the grandeur of St. Marco's square. You have to see it, but for Christ's sake, bring money and a good umbrella.

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