My friend Manu, from Munich, who I met in New Zealand, came to join me on a trip to Venice.
I’d heard that Venice is…not so nice—it’s dirty, the water smells, the people are rude (or mean? Or shady? Something other than ‘pleasant’)., so it wasn’t on my list of places to see in Italy. Then I learned my friend’s wedding was in a city less than an hour away from Venice (30 minutes by train from Treviso), and I figured “When in Treviso…”*
*I tried to explain the saying “When in Rome” to Manu, and either I did a poor job explaining it or there’s a cultural difference because it didn’t seem to translate well. He responded with, “In my country, we have the opposite saying. It’s ‘What the farmer does not know he does not eat.”’ **
**it’s not exactly the opposite, but we were talking about food when I said, “When in Rome.” Specifically, this happened:
Manu and I were eating a pre-fixe dinner—four courses, starting at 10 p.m.—and it was a small Italian restaurant in Quinto, which is on the outskirts of Treviso. We had no idea what our main dish was other than “beef” something. Manu made a joke that he hoped it came out blue (“Don’t even put that thought into the universe!”), but he was kidding; he thinks the best steak is cooked between medium-rare and medium. Now to me, little miss “I’d like it well-done but burnt is okay, too,” the idea of medium-rare to medium isn’t “cooked” at all. Just imagining it makes me taste the iron.
Moments later, our waiter brought out the main course (pictured above), and Manu’s reaction was, “Um. It’s bleeding.”
Under normal circumstances I would have started involuntarily dry heaving, but here, I said, “Well, when in Rome…” and proceeded to eat (some of) it.
[Actually, what I said was, “When in Rome….or hey, Treviso! Because we’re in Italy, which is almost Rome, so we really are in Rome—Italy!” and was met with a blank stare.]
Short story: I don’t think Manu would respond with the farmer’s saying in all contexts.
Manu and I took the train from Treviso to Venice, but before we left the station, I started fretting that I didn’t bring my laptop. Think of all the blogging I could be doing on the train! I thought. (I’d just had my first day in Italy and wanted to write about it while it was still fresh in my memory.) So Manu and I scoured the three stores in the Treviso train station until I found a large, bright green notebook that I thought was perfect!
The result: I fell asleep on the train both times and only wrote one page of material that I didn’t even use in my blog, and then I had to carry a notebook around with me all day like I was headed to first grade. Well planned, Jenny.
The Truth About Venice
My impression of Venice is that it’s a beautiful city, not dirty and certainly not smelly, a little overpriced, with LOTS of tourists crowded into tiny ally ways, but definitely worth a visit.
It wasn’t my favorite because I expected a little more charm, like some of the smaller towns I visited, but I’m also partial to small towns because I don’t like crowded areas. And keep in mind I only spent six hours in Venice, so it’s a limited assessment. I’m sure people who spend more time there find the off-the-beaten-path spots and never want to leave. Either way, it’s a beautiful place, and I imagine lit at night it would be even more so.
Our Day (mostly in pictures)
For those who don’t want to spend €100 on a gondola ride, or spend any money on transportation whatsoever, here are some of the places you’ll see on foot. We walked to Saint Marco’s Square and back, in a zig-zagged pattern. I was certain Manu was lost until we were suddenly there.
Piazza San Marco:
One thing I didn’t realize was Venice is home to amazing costume masks, like masquerade masks. Very Edgar Allan Poe in “The Cask of Amontillado.” I was too busy thinking If I bought this, where could I wear it? that didn’t take pictures, so here’s someone else’s.
There were some AMAZING ones—black and ornate—and I wanted to buy one and live in an era when I could actually wear it. But they were expensive and it seemed like an impulse buy, so I refrained.
To be honest, I would’ve hated being that person in the costume. If I’d had coins, I would have given it all to her and told her to buy a fan (also a popular tourist item). It was so hot that day that I was drenched in my own sweat, and I was only wearing a tank top and shorts; I can’t imagine what layers of tool and heavy fabric would’ve been like. They probably come out of the dressing room looking like this:
My favorite part of the day was when we sat down under a shady awning for some drinks and shared the table with a Dutch couple (there was only one table left we decided to join together and make friends.) They were on their honeymoon, traveling around Europe for an entire month, which I think puts the idea of a 4-day all-inclusive to shame. We swapped traveling stories and traveling tips and managed to find a spot that didn’t charge an outrageous amount for a drink.***
***Unless that drink is Coca Cola. Manu spent as much on his soda as I did on a glass of wine.
Manu and I tracked prices on our way to St. Marco’s Square, the most expensive restaurant being across from the Cathedral. Thankfully he didn’t get a Coca Cola there because they charged (get this) €9.80 for a soda and €14.50 for a cup of gelato. Okay. I love gelato as much as the next person**** but $20 USD on a cup of gelato cannot be justified. Is their gelato was made with angel tears? Does it double as a fountain of youth? Maybe if it were the best in the world, I would try it. But even in this scenario I’m envisioning a “cup” being the size of a half gallon.
****considering “the next person” dreams of being in a bathtub of gelato and eating their way out of it.
(In case you were wondering, my gelato of the day was Hazelnut and Amarena, and it only cost €2. It was good, but not life-changing.)
On our way back to the station, we stopped for a snack. I tried to be healthy for the first time in Italy and ordered a salad, and I have to say, it was amazing. I ate it dressing-less because the ingredients were so fresh. And look at the baby onions!
We came back to Treviso early because the bus stopped running to the B&B at 8:30, and we got lost trying to find our way to the bus station. We found at the exact moment the bus arrived. Divine assistance!
Then, as mentioned earlier, we at a 4-course meal at 10 p.m., and I felt like I would never eat again.
But this is ITALY. Of course I’d eat again, and eat a lot.
After all, when in Rome…