November 02, 2015

At Last, the Venice of My Dreams

When I was planning my first trip to Venice a few years ago I dreamed of sitting on Piazza San Marco at twilight, sipping on a fruity peach Bellini while I listened to a café orchestra. But my dreams were squelched by an unfortunate spell of rainy weather. Where were the sunny skies I’d envisioned for my Italian holiday?

Rainy Day in Venice (2010)

High Water, Acqua Alta, in Piazza San Marco (2010)

The second time I went to Venice the weather was much more agreeable. And the finale of our tour with Insight Vacations began with a late afternoon cruise through the city’s canals by gondola, an opportunity to view this unique city from a different perspective.

A Wedding in Venice

The Bridge of Sighs...

... and a Crowd of Admirers

Venetian Gondoliers

Cruising the Canals of Venice by Gondola

Some bridges are low...

... and others are very low.

After a delicious farewell dinner at Bentigodi in Cannaregio, we boarded water taxis for a cruise along the Grand Canal. Standing beside the driver as our boat sped through the open waters of the Venetian Lagoon, I felt like I was part of an exhilarating chase scene in the movie, The Italian Job. (A set designer must have arranged that sunset.)

The Venetian Lagoon

Sunset Over the Venetian Lagoon

As we entered the Grand Canal our boat slowed to the posted speed limit. Then we drifted along through a dreamlike passage of medieval churches and renaissance palazzos, under the broad stone arch of the Rialto Bridge, and on to Piazza San Marco. (For more Grand Canal photos see this earlier post.)

Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal

Cruising Down the Grand Canal

The atmosphere on Piazza San Marco was enchanting.  The floodlit campanile soared into a sky of cobalt blue while the basilica was shrouded in ghostly scaffolding. We took our seats at Caffé Lavena, once a favourite gathering place for composers like Richard Wagner and Franz Liszt. The orchestra played Strauss waltzes and the audience sang along to their favourite songs from The Sound of Music. And instead of that Bellini I’d planned on having I ordered an Aperol Spritz, my new favourite Italian aperitif.

Piazza San Marco at Twilight

The Campanile, or Bell Tower, of San Marco

Caffé Lavena

Caffé Quadri on Piazza San Marco

The Caffé Lavena Orchestra

My Aperol Spritz

What made this day really special for me was sharing the experience with my daughter. And finally I could cross a magical evening in Venice off my Bucket List.

Next:  Insight Vacations Treasures of Italy

Related Posts:
George Clooney's Grand Canal Wedding Cruise
"A" is for Aperol
Venice, La Serenissima

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