Sunday, January 17, 2010

Guest Blogger: Jessica Spiegel

While I'm signing paperwork to buy a piccolo appartamento way down in the ankle region of the boot, Jessica Spiegel, of the fabulous site Italy Explained, is joining us here in the Pinon Tree, and doing a fine job convincing me that I need to revisit Venice. 

Venice was the first city I set foot in on my first trip ever to Italy, and it's still one of my favorite cities on earth. I think I'm stealing this line from another Venice fan, my friend Christine Cantera, but I have an enormous crush on Venice.

To me, Venice is like the high school bad boy - y'know, the impossibly gorgeous one - who tempts you with promises you know he can't (or won't) keep, who breaks your heart every time he pays attention to another girl, and who you'll still give another chance (and another, and another) even though you know you probably should just walk away and find another boyfriend.


If I'm being perfectly honest, I'd actually prefer to have a huge crush on a different Italian city. When people ask me, "What's your favorite place in Italy?" I'd really rather not sound so cliched when I reply, "Venice," but there it is. Sure, there are lots of places in Italy I love dearly, and several which I think I'd actually live in before I'd take up residence in Venice, but I have yet to visit an Italian city that makes me swoon or forget myself so completely as Venice does.

I've written about Venice often on my website, usually starting from the premise of helping people get past the things about the city that make some travelers return with stories of how much they hated it. For years, I've almost taken it personally whenever someone told me they'd had a bad time in Venice, and I would try to do anything I could to get them to reconsider, try again, change their mind. But I've become a bit less forgiving lately.

In other words, Venice travel advice-seekers, if you're not prepared to put in a little effort, then you might wanna think twice before you ask me for help.

I know what it takes to love Venice, and I also know prefectly well that Venice doesn't always make it easy. Remember that bad boy in high school? He wasn't easy to love, either, but you did it anyway. You made concessions, you overlooked faults, you ignored the warnings from family and friends. Of course, he finally did break your heart one too many times, and you eventually did find another boyfriend - one your mother could love, too - but you'd be lying if you said a piece of your heart didn't still kind of pine for the bad boy.

(Am I revealing too much? What were we talking about? Oh yes. Venice. Ahem.)

Venice takes effort. Venice requires that you look beyond the crowds of people shuffling like so many sheep between the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark's Square (and the cheap, crappy trinkets sold by nearly every shop along that route). Venice demands that you take a back road or two (or twelve) in order to find good food. Venice asks you to part with more of your travel budget than you'd really like to, especially for a city so small.

In a nutshell, Venice is work. But it's worth it.

Will you visit Venice, check it off your list, and then make the decision to turn your back on the bad boy in favor of nicer boyfriends in the future? Maybe. But if you do Venice right the first time, I defy you not to pine for it years later.

And when you find yourself sighing in that way only a beloved ex can make you sigh, come find me. Then we'll talk.

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You'll find all kinds of helpful travel tips and practical information on Jessica's site, Italy Explained.


Bryan said...

"Venice demands that you take a back road or two (or twelve) in order to find good food."

That is one of the great things we love about any city in Italy that is clogged with tourists - Venice, Roma, Firenza, Napoli. Getting back behind the crush of the tourists and seeing 'the heart' of the city. That is when she becomes a place to love.

We visited Venice once on a foggy Spring day and it seemed like we had her all to ourselves. We must visit again.

Lisa at The World is Calling said...

I expected to like Venice but I fell in love with it. The first visit was a whirlwind with good historical tours to get a sense of her; the second was a ten-day stay with my 12year-old daughter in the neighborhood district when I fell hook, line and sinker; the third was a three-day stay in an apartment on the Grand Canal, with kids, hubby and parents in tow--the icing on the cake. Put in the work as Jessica suggests--she'll give you a good return on your investment.

Circuitschine said...

There are waters around Guilin in China,but really a different feeling with Venice.