Italy - Venice

Our Italian adventure began in Venice.  For anyone thinking about visiting Italy but wonders if Venice is too touristy or too crowded to be worthy of a visit, please go anyway.  Admittedly, my first time in Venice wasn't the best experience.  I visited Italy as a part of a multi-country tour so that was tiring in itself.  Having just a day to explore Venice, I only remembered the long lines, hot sun, and rude vendors.  It was a way to see Venice, but I didn't get to experience it.  This time around, I skipped the tour group and saw Venice very differently.  I spent two night at a local Venetian flat, ate the local cuisine and discovered I like anchovies quite a bit, and was constantly on the prowl for Gelato and cannoli. The lines were there but, having control over my own schedule, I didn't feel rushed or compelled to see everything at once.   I did decide to skip the Gondola ride - the romantic appeal was tempting but my last experience of getting scolded for stepping on the seat still left a bad taste (I wasn't keen on spending over $100 for the ride either).  Instead, we bought olives, proscuitto, salumi, and parmesan to enjoy by the canal - food adds romance to everything!   My favorite thing about traveling is feeling like I've been wisp away to a completely foreign place and Venice did just that - it is like nowhere I've been to before and, at times, I felt like I was in the middle of a Hollywood movie set because everything looked so unreal.  The cobblestone streets, the canals, the ornate architecture, the gelato, the pasta and seafood - all of my favorite things came to life in this unique city.