Sunday, January 16, 2011

How to Take the Romance Out of Venice

Q: How do you take the romance out of Venice?

A: Bring your young children.

I love my children. My husband and I have traveled all over Europe with them over the past few years. With a child on my back (i.e., Ergo Baby Carrier), we've climbed Moorish ruins in Portugal, hiked in the German Alps, wandered around Dublin, Lisbon, Sicily, Seville, Gibraltar and so on. Most places are fairly kid-friendly. Venice, however, may have been the least kid-friendly out of all our journeys.

Family Taking a Gondola Ride

There are a few reasons that Venice didn't meet our kid-friendly expectations.

  1. It was cold and dreary. Venice is to be traveled on foot during warmer, sunnier days (I take most of the responsibility for choosing this destination during the winter months). Days full of color. Balmy evenings full of ancient history that adds to the romantic ambiance. Our day was mostly gray - dulling our surroundings. When I would learn of something historic, in my mind's eye I would see sickness and harsh living conditions, despite knowing that Venice was once rich, thriving and even more beautiful than it is today. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't place myself there during that time or "feel" it.
  2. When in Venice, you want to pick up some Moreno glass and a Carnival mask. Not an easy task with grabby children. Sifting through the shops, trying to find a mask or piece of glass (Jewelry in my case - as I wouldn't dare buy a 500 Euro piece of glass art moving as we do - and with young children running through the house), is not an easy task. There were lots of junkie shops. I didn't want a spray painted mask. I wanted something hand-painted and original. I probably got something in between, as it was getting dark when I finally stumbled on some nice shops, the girls were hungry, tired and very much done.
  3. Aside from restaurants, a few historic sites, souvenir shops and the obligatory gondola ride, there isn't much to do. I would have loved to wander around with Matt alone and gotten "lost." But, alas, you can't do that with children - especially ones cold and who desire to eat every two hours.

Looking for an inexpensive mask - possibly for five-year-olds? This stand had it!

Mask Painter

Lone Evening Produce Market

It's possible I would have enjoyed Venice more had I been able to have a couple glasses of wine during lunch and if it had been warmer. A Meniere's flare-up nipped alcohol drinking right in the bud, however. As far as warmer weather, if I happen to be close to Venice during warmer weather in the future, I may (i.e., I had an extra day to spare and no where else to go - so unlikely) venture back - without young children, mind you.


Angie said...

We went in the warmer months, and with only one child, but it was definitely not romantic. Shopkeepers and museum people (not guards exactly) did not appreciate our two year old at ALL. She loved the gondola ride at sunset, but not romantic. And, honestly, neither of us wants to go back with or without children.

Becca said...

Danger! I really wanna go to Venice. We will still probably go, but now I'm thinking we outta bring some duct tape.... In case they break something NOT for tying their hands behind their back :) creative blog title btw!

The Turkish Life said...

I'm all for warmer weather just about anywhere, but I highly recommend *not* going to Venice in the high summer. It's incredibly hot and sticky and places like St. Mark's Square are so packed with tourists, you can hardly walk through them. I felt like I was about to have a meltdown -- I can hardly imagine how badly a kid would probably take it!

Natalie said...

@Jen: I don't know that I'd go anywhere in Italy, except, maybe (big maybe), wine regions/tours, during high season, or any part of summer for that matter. Anyway, I'm really ready for some off-the-beaten-path traveling. Small towns, not in any magazine or tourist book...

Brenda said...

We went with Bennett when he was 4 and it was fine, but I think that there are better places to visit in Italy. Florence was a favorite of mine as well as the wine region...I went to Italy for two weeks with my Italian friend who showed me the REAL Italy.