And Polo said: “Every time I describe a city I am saying something about Venice.”
-Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
Being in Venice felt a little strange to me. When I studied abroad in London, I was housed in an area known as Little Venice. Years later, I visited Zhouzhuang in China, which is sometimes known as the Venice of the East. This summer I finally made it to the original.
I have to admit that Venice is as beautiful as many people before me have said it is. As usual, however, I encountered more than a little scaffolding and reconstruction work. The canals were cleaner than I had heard years ago–I was told Italy has been cleaning up the canals, which certainly makes it more appealing for tourists.
No matter how you view the canals of Venice, they’re beautiful. Alright, there are some that aren’t as pleasant to see–graffiti and ill-maintained homes abound in some areas. Still, it is a beautiful city in which the tourists outnumber the residents and the prices are astronomical for those of us on a budget.
I was warned against riding in the gondolas before arriving in Venice–even the Italians think their cheesy and expensive. I didn’t find them cheesy; they’re works of art in the form of a boat. They are ridiculously expensive though. From what I saw, a gondola ride costs 80 euros for a half hour, but you can have multiple people on that gondola. Of course, after the slow and sometimes crowded boat ride through the canals, the gondoliers will also ask for a tip. Even if I was traveling with someone (or three) to split the cost, I probably would’ve said no to the gondolas and just saved my money for a decent meal.
Have you been in the gondolas of Venice? Was it worth the price? Where else have you been that was ridiculously overpriced?