On Friday we flew off to Venice! We stayed at a lovely airBNB owned by an adorable woman named Marina who, upon learning I spoke French, began a lengthy and excited conversation with me about my studies in Nice (and my future teaching in Bordeaux)!
My first goal was to buy an authentic Venetian mask. My friends Trey and Caroline visited Venice the weekend of April first and Caroline told me about one of the stores where the man makes the masks in the store! You walk in and there are masks everywhere with his work station right there in the store. I decided to make it my goal to buy a mask from him since I wanted to make sure it was authentic.
So my parents and I set off with our destination in mind but no rush to get there. We meandered the streets and alleys, taking in the canals and old buildings, and of course stopping for some real Italian gelato!
Eventually we found our way to the maskmaker’s studio, which was a site all on its own. Hundreds of masks lining the walls, different sizes, colors, styles. It was incredible! We weren’t sure if he spoke English so once I heard him speaking French to another couple I decided I’d try that and I ended up having a great conversation with him! I bought a blue and silver masquerade mask with some feathers and other embellishments. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to take a picture with it since he wrapped it up for us to make it easier to travel with, but I did take a picture with one of the same style, just with different colors!
After some more wandering we made our way to a small restaurant on one of the smaller streets where we had some delicious pizza and wine before going back to the airBNB for the night!
Saturday, with another friend’s recommendation, we went to see Doge’s Palace! It’s right by St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco). My friend recommended we get the audio tour since it really enhances the experience, and he was definitely right. It tells you all about the history of the building as well as some of the government when the area was still the Republic of Venice. A word of advice: go in the morning, around 9:30 or 10:00. We went around then and while it was busy, it was definitely bearable. By the time we left around noon the line was enormous.
Next we stopped at a small restaurant for lunch and then did what everyone must do when visiting Venice: we rode in a gondola!
One of the interesting things is that there’s no competition between the gondola operators in terms of price. Every one of them charges 80€, so you don’t need to worry about whether one is a better deal than another! The 80€ gets you a half-hour session. According to our gondola’s owner (conductor? captain?) the boats cost around 50,000€ to buy!
We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering the streets some more, going into a few shops (my parents ended up buying a Venetian mask from a different maskmaker!) and spending a good amount of time in the Jewish quarter of Venice. My friend Caroline recommended it to me and since my mom and I are both Jewish, we all thought it would be worth a visit, and it definitely was! We met someone there who told us all about the history of the area (apparently the Jewish “ghetto” in Venice is the oldest ghetto in Europe!).
After leaving we got coffee/tea at a small café and sat for a while before finding dinner and heading back for the night. The next day we took the water taxi back to the airport for our flight back to Nice. We only spent two days in Venice but it was a good amount of time to get a taste of the city. Hopefully I’ll be able to make it back in the future!
After we landed I took my parents to Èze, a medieval village close to Nice. We spent a few hours taking in the views and the authenticity of the city before getting one last dinner together and saying goodbye.
Their flight was this morning (Monday, at the ripe hour of 6:10 AM!). Having the chance to see them reminded me of how much I really missed them these last three months! It’s hard to believe that I’ll be seeing them again in a few weeks since I’ll be back in the states then.
Ciao for now!