Tuesday was basically my Italian version of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
You all know that I’m not the kind of person who skips class – I’ve only ever skipped one class and that was to study for a FIN221 exam that night (which was worse than actually being in class). But one of my two classes got canceled and it was my only chance to go to Carnival before it ends next week, so I could justify this trip even though it was only the second day of classes.
Our train to Venice left Stazione di Milano Centrale at 6:35am, and since Arco is not very centrally located, that meant waking up at 4am. Which was painful. But we slept on the train ride, and you can’t really complain when you wake up and you’re in Venice.
Venezia (aka Venice) is made up of over 100 islands, connected by more than 400 bridges. There’s no cars, the only means of transportation are water taxis, gondolas, and your own two feet. We started our day in Venice with a free walking tour. Our tour guide was great – she took us to a lot of the quieter, non-touristy parts of Venice which allowed us to learn a lot more about the city and it’s fascinating history.
The rest of the day we used to do some of the more touristy things in Venice. We walked to Piazza San Marco, where there’s the Basilica Cathedral Patriarchal di San Marco (St Mark’s Basilica), the Campanile di San Marco (bell tower), and Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace). It’s definitely beautiful – Napoleon did after all call it “the drawing room of Europe” – but it is also super crowded and touristy.
This is also where we saw the most people decked out for Carnival. For those of you who don’t already know, Carnival is a winter celebration that dates back to the Renaissance. This year it takes place from January 31-February 17 (until Lent). Since we were only here during the day, we didn’t get to experience the craziness that goes on at night. We did however get to see quite a few people dressed for the occasion, with not just the masks you’re thinking of, but with incredibly elaborate costumes. These people basically get dressed up in Carnival gear and walk around so people can take pictures of them. It’s pretty cool, but not going to lie it also kind of creeps me out.
The piazza is situated right on the water, and these docks were by far my favorite part. The view across the water towards the other island was breathtaking. It felt like I was in a movie. Actually, just being in Venice feels like you’re in a movie because it’s not real life.
And of course when you’re in Venice you have to ride a gondola. You just have to do it. Our gondolier took us from the Rialto bridge (pictured above) down the Grand Canal and in to some of the smaller canals nearby. It was an extremely cool and fun experience!
Venice is probably the most photogenic city out there – seriously everything is beautiful. Every single building. Every single canal. Literally everything. If you want to see more of the pics that I couldn’t fit in this blog post (even though I fit in a lot – sorry this is a long one!), feel free to check out my Facebook page.
Happy to say that I have absolutely zero regrets about missing class today. Zero. This is why studying abroad is so great.