As if my aunt and uncle's first week didn't include a packed schedule of marvelous sites, we decided to do a quick hop up to Venice. We were able to find a flight leaving Naples in the morning and a return flight the following evening, meaning we could visit Venice for two full days - not enough to see all the extras, but enough to see the city and visit St. Mark's Basilica. I've already written about how much I love Venice. And yet, I seem to be one of only a few. Generally, in the days leading up to our trip, when I would tell people of our intentions, a flash of distaste would cross their features before good manners forced a bland, pleasant smile to take over. I've started asking people what they didn't like about Venice because I just don't understand it. I find the city to be pure magic. Walking the back streets, away from the maddening hordes (none of those on my February trip, but plenty this time around), it's possible to really see the appeal, to hear the gentle lapping of the water as it flows into the first floors of some of the palazzos, to hear the echo of a far-off, singing gondolier, plying his extra-paying riders with entertainment, to get lost in the maze of alleys that wind around the crumbling buildings and canals everywhere. I could walk around Venice for days just soaking in the atmosphere.
The city has over 400 bridges, but it's possible to walk the entire city in a day or two if you don't linger. We elected to skip all the actual sites, other than St. Mark's Square and Basilica, in favor of wandering - my favorite Venetian activity. For all four of us (Nathan got to go on this trip, too!), the best of the best for our trip was the end - needing to be at the airport about 6pm, we decided to take a private water taxi. It meant we could leave almost an hour later, and, since we'd foregone the requisite gondola ride, we wanted to get out on the water. The water taxi was phenomenal. Leaving from St. Mark's Square, our driver cut directly across the island, navigating down narrow, empty canals, which allowed us to see parts of the city we would never have gotten to see. Then it was through to the Lagoon on the other side and pedal to the metal across the water - great fun and the perfect way to end our stay.