Monday, July 1, 2013

My Return to Venice and My Last Goodbye to Torino

Neither of my parents had visited Venice before on their respective trips to Italy, so they really wanted to add it to our trip. I went with USAC for a weekend in February, but I was more than excited to return to one of my favorite Italian cities in better weather. And the weather was much, much better. It was a little challenging dragging our suitcases from Piazzale Roma (the parking area) to our hotel. There are water taxies you can take around all the islands, but we weren't sure how many times we would want to take one and therefore thought the price wasn't worth it. For a one way trip any length is 7 euros per person, but you can buy passes if you will be taking taxis often. Besides walking other ways of getting around Venice is hiring a private water taxi, which I would imagine is expensive or a gondola ride, which depending on how many people take it could cost 14 to 40 euros per person. I don't remember if I mentioned this on my first post about Venice, but to me riding in the water wasn't on the top of my priorities. Maybe if I was visiting Venice on a romantic vacation, but I throughly enjoyed seeing the city by foot. I did end up taking a water taxi after our very tiring day back to our hotel and it was fun.

It was a little stressful finding a place to eat dinner the first night we arrived. As much as I love Venice there is no denying that the city is a huge tourist trap. Any main street or streets around popular areas like San Marco or Ponte di Rialto will have many restaurant options that look very similar: bright menus lining the street written in English, Italian, French, and German that include photos of the dishes (after a while you notice the same exact photos on multiple restaurants). The food may be decent, but don't expect anything amazing or to be siting next to any locals. We winged it with on of these such places. For some reason I ordered fried sardines with polenta. The boney texture was really interesting.

Our hotel was across a canal from the first Jewish ghetto in Europe. I wanted to visit the area last time I was in Venice, but didn't have the time. The synagogues are very discret and you can only enter a couple by going on a tour of the ghetto. We got some pastries at one of the kosher bakeries and we walked to the Rialto bridge where we enjoyed them. From the bridge we walked to Piazza San Marco, which I still believe is the most beautiful piazza I have seen in Italy. We saw the exhibit in Palazzo Duncale called Manet. Return to Venice. It was amazing. We went inside the basilica, I got to see the Four Tetrachs again, and we decided to go up (in an elevator) St. Mark's Campanile. In the 9th century it was a watch tower and in the 1902 it developed a crack, which quickly grew, collapsing the whole tower. Construction started again in 1912. From the top of the tower you could see all of Venice including the farther islands. I suggest asking your hotel (or any locals you meet) for a good, non-touristy restaurant serving typical Venetian food. We ended up at a pretty moderately prized, very small, and absolutely delicious place tucked away in an alley full of locals. Make reservations!


Returning back to Torino was tough. It was weird that I couldn't walk up to my apartment (which I noticed was now covered in scaffolding) and find my roommates or friends where we used to hang out. It made me realize that the program was really over. Friends were really gone. Luckily, two of my friends from Erasmus, Sarah and Nannie, and my Italian friends were still there. I met Sarah and Nannie at Parco Valentino for a bit of sun (unlike my "first" last day in Torino, the weather was beautiful). I went with my parents to buy gianduja, a speciality chocolate from Torino made with hazelnut paste, had gelato from one of my favorite spots, and said goodbye to Piazza San Carlo. For dinner, I ventured out to Sarah's apartment for a pasta dinner cooked by our Italian friends. It was a very needed last goodbye. Again, I couldn't have been happier for picking Torino and I am so grateful for the whole experience of studying and living there for a semester. 

Alps driving back to Torino
Piazza San Carlo
View from Sarah's apartment

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