The Truth About Venice (Everyone Lies) – Little Girl, Big World

I arrived in Venice with bright eyes and a bushy tail. I had four days off from school after a stressful midterm week (my roommates and parents could tell I had a stressful midterm month). I was looking for a city where I could settle down for a few days to relax, eat and decompress.

When I first flew into Venice early on October 28, I was convinced that the most stressful part of my trip would be the water taxis. The main transport to the City of Canals is undoubtedly beautiful, but a bit strained for a girl who has never learned to swim.

Venice is one of those places that is on almost everyone’s “one day” travel destination. If money and free time were not factors, the beautiful architecture and landscape of Venice would be seen by all. The gondolas cruising around the city via the canal, eating pasta with a view of the water, endless gelato while resting, finding nice clothes and being able to say “thank you, I bought it in Italy” when they are complimented, and of course find nice Italian men. There are countless movies, romantic or otherwise, that paint Venice in the perfect picture.

The reality though, is that Venice is drowning, and the abundant amount of tourists is an added dead weight pushing it further.

The amount of tourists is fascinating in itself. One of the most popular tourist destinations (and a central location in the city), San Marco Square resembles a football pitch that fans flocked to after their team’s victory. You can barely walk through the monstrous plaza without bumping into someone who only pays attention to their selfie, bombarding 50 photos and increasing your body heat by 20 degrees. The top five things that seem to characterize Venice are more of a Disney attraction than the culture of a real city.

Gondoliers often wore AirPods for distraction and did their best to stay away from locals. As the gondola riders floated down the canal, they were subjected to hundreds of different people standing on the shore, taking pictures of them and staring at them. Often the canal was so crowded with tourists in gondolas that the gondoliers were all shouting instructions to each other in Italian.

Eating pasta on the water is a great and relaxing idea, although after four days of only being able to find pasta and pizza, it gets a bit repetitive. Ice cream stands were often holes in the wall (literally) in the middle of a crowded street. The streets are very narrow and rarely, if ever, was there anyone to sit down. This forced people to stand on the already crowded street, disrupting the flow. Although I have to admit that I have a fondness for both of these things, as I don’t eat dairy. That’s why I spent four days eating infrequently, because in Italy there is no “dairy-free”.

I went to Venice with another objective besides relaxing. One day, on my way back to Madrid, I had an event for the fashion magazine. It required formal dress and I was thrilled that it meant I could pick up something unique in a Venetian thrift store. However, it became very apparent that there were no stores that could be considered ‘for locals’. Most of the stores that you would consider a perfect place for a coffee shop or a bakery were more of a tourist store. All sell similar items, negotiating with tourists to get a head start on the competition. I realized very quickly that there would be no unique clothing stores nearby. The only vintage store I came across had a minimum price of $80.

When I got home to Madrid, I watched a video about how Venetians are fighting for more rights against tourists and big cruise ships. A lady spoke saying: “Many local shops, your butchers, your bakers, your dressmakers, all the local services have been transformed one by one into souvenir shops, restaurants, fast food outlets. Nothing seems to suit us anymore. »

So that leaves us with nice Italian men and the fantasy of falling in love abroad, something TV shows make seem all too easy. However, when “nothing is supported [the locals] more » why should these handsome men stay?

On the first day, I met a local Italian. A boy around my age who helped me find my hostel and later served as my server. I stayed on a small island south of the big tourist island of Venice so it was a bit quieter. I asked him if he had any local suggestions for places to go, and he said “local places in Venice?” There are not any. But I can tell you the best sights.

When I asked him what he liked to do with his friends on weekends to gain perspective, he replied: “I’ve lived here all my life. I don’t like it, it’s nothing special. The United States is where I want to go, so I can party. Unlike Madrid, all of Venice seems to fall asleep around 7 p.m.

We talked every day, but it wasn’t until my last day that I really asked him the deep questions. “Are you super annoyed by tourists? Because I’m a tourist and I can hardly stand it. He said he wasn’t going to the main island for that exact reason. He also told me that the island is currently out of season so if I thought it was busy now don’t come back in the summer.

He closed the conversation by saying, “I would like to live somewhere less touristy, but if Venice didn’t have tourists spending money, Venice would be poor. They at least stimulate the economy.

Should you really give up the city of your ancestors, one of the most beautiful places in the world, just for a boosted economy?

I considered rewriting the entire first part of this article because I found it too negative. Guess I really needed to get the deception out of my system. I have never been to a city as overrun with tourists as Venice. It was my first experience in a country that seemed to have been designed specifically to be a tourist playground. It was incredibly disheartening to realize that some of these locals have roots in Venice dating back hundreds of thousands of years, but are now being hunted by tourists with Canon cameras and “I Heart” shirts. Italy”. It’s uncomfortable to think that, however unlikely, this could ever happen in my hometown.

My house and the one where my grandparents lived, demolished and replaced by a gift shop. The elementary school that nurtured my love of learning, now a fast food restaurant. The soccer field that taught me about life, passion and hard work, now just a place for selfies.

Although there is an underlying feeling of loss of home and focus when you think about it too much, there is no doubt that Venice is as beautiful as the movies depict. Especially when getting up early, when you can see the city before everyone else. As I told one girl I got in touch with through a “Europe Girls Solo Travel” group, “It’s amazingly beautiful, so don’t cross it off your list, but don’t plan on going there. spend too much time.”

If I had to do the trip again, I would have opted for a “Taste of Italy” itinerary instead. Venice to Milan to Florence to Rome. Although I had already booked the hostel, I was able to make a model of it with the islands surrounding Venice.

One morning I woke up particularly early and took a water taxi to the northern islands, Burano and Murano. Still tourist destinations, but less crowded simply because of the 1.5 hour boat ride to get there. Since I arrived so early, I was able to thoroughly explore the colorful fishing town of Burano before the larger tour boats arrived.

The locals, who usually made their living from making glass and selling it, were happy to talk about the history of the jewelry they sold. The matching earrings and necklace I bought at a small store were made by the store owner’s cousin, made into jewelry by his wife, and sold by him.

As I walked through the streets of Burano, it was evident that it contained a larger sense of “home”. Whether it’s neighbors shouting “hello” to each other while sweeping their porches, dogs knowing exactly which boat to board, or just proof of life through clotheslines.

Sure, there were still selfies, but something about selfies in Burano felt more likeable and less like “crossing this photo opportunity off the list.”

Murano is the “behind the scenes” of Burano. It contains the factory that makes the metal, and many more miniatures and more varied objects. It is almost identical, on a smaller scale, to Venice. The areas around the water were busy with tourists, restaurants, and shops, while the small streets resembling interconnecting corridors that led into the interior of the island were much quieter.

At the airport, a hotel guide had told the two boys that he was collecting the luggage because he didn’t believe Murano was worth the visit and wasn’t even sure Burano was either. “There is nothing to do or see on either island, they are pretty but all you are supposed to do is sit back and enjoy the beauty.”

It is precisely for this, nothingness, that I fell in love with Burano and Murano. There was nothing else I could do but sit on a bench and enjoy the beauty.

Yours sincerely,

Calihan

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