Venice by Morning Light

Venice is magical.  Its many moods, and its bustling, winding streets and alleyways are unique in the world.   Michon and I have found that the best way to have the city to ourselves is to rise early, and venture out for a couple of perfect hours.  The sights are all there, the light is beautiful, but the crowds have yet to arrive.  Head out for a morning stroll, and return to your hotel for breakfast.

Along the Grand Canal the sun begins to touch the tops of the grand palazzos at about 7AM.  Be sure to arrive before that happens and the effect is magical.  In Piazza San Marco, you will be greeted by pigeons, street sweepers, and silence.

The morning light plays across the Campanile di San Marco, and the Basilica is bathed in stunning warm colors.  It is hard to believe at this hour, and in this setting, that in a few hours the square will be engulfed in surging crowds, souvenir carts, and long lines of tourists waiting to get into St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doges Palace.

Another great thing about rising early is that you’re treated to a glimpse behind the scenes, at how this city built on water functions.  Before most tourists rise, large narrow delivery boats operated by skilled drivers ply the canals delivering supplies to cafes and markets, while  a small army of workers with carts fan out to pick up yesterday’s trash and load it onto specially made boats.  Meanwhile, workers with brooms and special sweepers get the main streets ready for pedestrian traffic.

For Michon and I there is great joy in getting to know a place, not just along the usual tourist routes, but more intimately, as one who lives here might.


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