It's been a while since I've posted, and I have quite a few home updates in the queue, but I interrupt our regular programming to tell you a little bit about our trip to Italy! We got back on Sunday from the trip of a lifetime. Let's take a step back and talk about how we got to go on this adventure. Italy has been my dream trip for years, and we have often discussed when we could plan a trip there. In April, as we took a look at our vacation budget, I said, in jest, "Wouldn't it be fun if we could just go to Italy?" We both thought that wasn't in the cards for us, but we talked about maybe a five year anniversary trip in 2017.
Two days later, Jeremy got an offer to do a job in Italy the weekend before our three year anniversary. God has been teaching me a lot about trusting him with my dreams, big and small, and this felt like a confirmation that he can surprise us with joys when we least expect it. God is good whether we got to go to Italy or not, but this was such an amazing testament to his goodness. With Jeremy's flight covered, we could afford the trip this year, and I set about planning the heck out of it.
After Jeremy finished his job outside Milan (a country music show at the Cowboys Guest Ranch...in Italy. Think bad American food, a wild west style petting zoo and saloon, and Italians line dancing in boots and cowboy hats. It was a bizarre 36 hours, but we were grateful for the opportunity and we met some great people), we left on our own adventures...starting in Venice.
"Perhaps I am afraid of losing Venice all at once, if I speak of it, or perhaps, speaking of other cities, I have already lost it, little by little." - Italo Calvano, Invisible Cities
There is no where else in the world like Venice. It's a city of romance built upon petrified wooden stakes driven into the lagoon centuries ago. Layers of history add character to the patina of the plaster covered brick buildings. Every canal has a story, and the charm of the city grows with every winding turn, every quaint bridge, and every ivy covered palace. The decadence of the early Venetians informed every architectural choice, and despite the obvious signs of age that time and flooding have worn on every corner of the city, the old grandeur is unmistakeable. The city is a floating engineering marvel and a time capsule.
Some of the charm is masked by the flood of tourists in the center of the city. I understand why thousands of people want to see Venice every day, but when we first arrived in the center of town along the walk from the Rialto bridge to St. Mark's Square, we were distracted from the romance of Venice by endless souvenir stands, hoards of confused and pushy tourists, and street salesmen around every corner trying desperately to sell us selfie sticks. After a couple hours of getting our bearings, and once the cruise ships pulled away from the docks at the end of the day, we roamed the streets away from the rush of the center of town, and we fell in love with the quiet romance that the Venetians created.
If I close my eyes I can still smell the salt water and hear the lap of the canal against the palaces and the sound of accordion music coming from gondolas just off the main drag. As our first real introduction to Italy, we reveled in the culture that was brimming around us. We tried Gelato for the first time, wandered aimlessly in the parts of the island that were nearly tourist-free, explored St. Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace, ate seafood fresh from the lagoon, savored seasonal fruit from the market outside our hotel, and attended a Baroque concert at the most famous theater in Venice, Gran Teatro la Fenice.
Other than a couple of tourist hot spots on the main square which we finished in a single morning, we did not have much of an agenda. We explored the narrow, winding streets and took comfort in knowing that we couldn't truly get lost without swimming off the island.
My favorite memories of Venice happened after the sun set and the lights in the buildings started illuminating the rivers. Venice was such a romantic start to our journey.