On the first day of our overnight CEA excursion to Venice, it was the drowning city. The rain poured and poured. I was prepared because the day before the storm, I finally gave in and bought rain boots. I didn’t bring my rain boots from home because they are so heavy and I didn’t think I would need them often, but when I heard that Venice could flood up to your knees I didn’t want to take any chances!
Luckily it didn’t flood too bad, just some deep puddles to avoid. But it was freezing and windy and generally unpleasant to be outside. We still tried to have our tours with our great tour guides from CEA, but even they thought the weather was ridiculous. We did manage to go into the Basilica di San Marco and up to the clock tower in Piazza San Marco. What an experience!
Even the operators of the elevator in the tower thought we were crazy. On top of the weather, the moment we went up there happened to be exactly on the hour so the huge bells were ringing maybe two feet above our heads. It was the windiest, coldest, loudest moment… I’ll never forget it. I was just laughing because it was so ridiculous!
We cut our tours way short and they let us go get a hot chocolate to warm up. My roommate and I went to a café to get some cocoa and tiramisu (which supposedly originated in Venice) and they were both fantastic! Italians really know how to do hot chocolate. It’s basically just melted chocolate, which seems logical, but wait until you try it. It can be too rich and heavy sometimes after a lot of it, but still completely delicious. The tiramisu was also homemade at the café that day (always make sure it was made that day!) and unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. The creams were so light, just enough coffee flavor, and rich chocolate around the edges of the plate made it just perfect.
In regard to food in Venice there is also a downside – it’s incredibly expensive! Pretty much all restaurants and cafés take advantage of the huge tourist industry in Venice and charge outrageous amounts for everything. Not only are the prices expensive, they will have hefty coperto charges (around €2.50 when in Florence it’s usually €1) plus a service charge of 12%-15% that I’ve never seen anywhere else. Keep this in mind if you’re going to Venice for a weekend trip!
CEA also took us to a glass-blowing demonstration but my roommate and I missed it because we were five minutes late for our meeting time, which also means that the demonstration was less than five minutes. Be on time, my friends! But we saw the finished products of the workshop’s store. Everything was gorgeous, and way more expensive than I could ever dream of affording.
We did our best to find an inexpensive restaurant for dinner. So the food was just average, nothing special. The next day was great though! All the clouds were gone and it was bright sunshine all day. We took a vaporetto ride (a water bus because there are no streets, just canals) and I took about a hundred photos just during that ride. The Grand Canal was amazing. It’s such an incredible city unlike any other. We finally got the nice tour we wanted of the city, seeing the Jewish ghetto part of town and a few churches. I’m so glad the sun came through on the second day; it really made it an unforgettable trip to an unforgettable city.
Samantha Wood is the Fall 2013 CEA MOJO in Florence, Italy. She is currently a junior at Salve Regina University.
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