Venice ITALY

Venice was a city we ended up in almost by accident. We found ourselves nearby on a whim and didn’t think we should pass up a chance to visit the famous city. It’s a place that is so well known, so thoroughly photographed, painted and filmed, it’s hard to go into it without expectations. Expectations of its beauty and uniqueness, but also of a tourist trap and the ugly side of travel. And yes, the streets are jam packed with tourists to the point where it’s hard to move or even see, Piazza San Marco has so many people in it that its hard not to feel overwhelmed, most of the shops sell tacky souvenirs or made in china leathergoods, and it’s very easy to get lost. But, step down a side street, find a quiet restaurant or a step to set on and in these quiet moments you stop seeing the crowds or the tourism and start seeing the place. I saw a boy of about 10 arrive home from school and let himself into his house. It suddenly became clear that in between the tourist shops and the gondoliers in their striped shirts are people living their real lives, going to work, going to school, getting around solely by boat or on foot, and really living in these exceptionally old buildings in this incredibly unique place.

A local in a modern boat goes under the Rialto Bridge, which is packed with tourists taking in the Grand Canal, Venice, ItalyIn a city that requires a lot of walking, a couple take a break on some steps leading into a canal, Venice, Italy

A local in a modern boat goes under the Rialto Bridge, which is packed with tourists taking in the Grand Canal; In a city that requires a lot of walking, a couple take a break on some steps leading into a canal.

Two gondoliers negotiate their gondolas in a tight, narrow canal, Venice, ItalyA local cruises down the Grand Canal in a modern boat, past a tiny two-story house, Venice, Italy

Two gondoliers negotiate their gondolas in a tight, narrow canal; A local cruises down the Grand Canal in a modern boat, past a tiny two-story house.

Bridges over a quiet, narrow residential canal with modern boats parked outside, Venice, Italy

Bridges over a quiet, narrow residential canal with modern boats parked outside.

People stroll through Piazza San Marcos past the ornate Byzantine St Mark's Basilica and the pink and white Dodge's Palace, Venice, ItalyWith the city slowly sinking, the ground floor in many buildings has become uninhabitable, Venice, Italy

People stroll through Piazza San Marcos (or St Mark’s Square), past the ornate Byzantine St Mark’s Basilica and the pink and white Dodge’s Palace; With the city of Venice slowly sinking, the ground floor in many buildings has become uninhabitable.

Looking through the stone balustrade of the Rialto Bridge to a variety of boats on the busy Grand Canal, Venice, Italy

Looking through the stone balustrade of the Rialto Bridge to a variety of boats on the busy Grand Canal.

Looking down a narrow canal where a line of boats are parked, steps disappearing into the dark waters, Venice, ItalyAn empty gondola waits for customers on the Grand Canal, Venice, Italy

Looking down a narrow canal where a line of boats are parked, steps disappearing into the dark waters; An empty gondola waits for customers on the Grand Canal.

Tourists in the Piazza San Marco take photos of the magnificently ornate and extremely historic buildings, Venice, ItalySome streets are so tightly packed with people it's hard to move, others are quite except for the chatter of people dining outside restaurants, Venice, Italy

Tourists in the Piazza San Marco take photos of the magnificently ornate and extremely historic buildings; Some streets in Venice are so tightly packed with people it’s hard to move, others are quite except for the chatter of people dining outside restaurants.

The very old wooden construction methods of the buildings visible in a narrow street filled with restaurants and al fresco dining, Venice, Italy

The very old wooden construction methods of the buildings visible in a narrow street filled with restaurants and al fresco dining.

The entrance to a narrow restaurant in an old building, Venice, ItalyPeople take time out from the crowds and the busyness to sit and read on steps leading into a canal, Venice, Italy

The entrance to a narrow restaurant in an old building; People take time out from the crowds and the busyness to sit and read on steps leading into a canal.

People stroll past a line of souvenir stalls outside the pink and white Dodge's Palace in Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy A necessity in this city, a couple sit and consult a map while a gondola floats by, Venice, Italy

People stroll past a line of souvenir stalls outside the pink and white Dodge’s Palace in Piazza San Marco; A necessity in Venice, a couple sit and consult a map while a gondola floats by.

Two girls sit and consult a tourist brochure at the base of the Campanile in the busy Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy

Two girls sit and consult a tourist brochure at the base of the Campanile in the busy Piazza San Marco.

People sit quietly, away from the crowds, under one of the ornate arches on the Dodge's Palace, Venice, ItalyA gondolier in the typical striped shirt punts his gondola down the Grand Canal, Venice, Italy

People sit quietly, away from the crowds, under one of the ornate arches on the Dodge’s Palace; A gondolier in the typical striped shirt punts his gondola down the Grand Canal.

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