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Destinations: Venice, The Floating City

Boats line a canal in Venice, Italy. Venice is made up of tiny islands and connected by bridges and walkways. There are 150 canals in Venice which makes traveling across the water a popular choice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Owen)

Boats line a canal in Venice, Italy. Venice is made up of tiny islands and connected by bridges and walkways. There are 150 canals in Venice which makes traveling across the water a popular choice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Owen)

Water taxis and boats make their way across the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy, Oct. 14, 2018. The Grand Canal forms one of the major water-traffic corridors in the city. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Valerie Halbert)

Water taxis and boats make their way across the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy, Oct. 14, 2018. The Grand Canal forms one of the major water-traffic corridors in the city. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Valerie Halbert)

The San Simeone Piccolo church and its aqua dome sit across the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy, and act as a sort of starting point for most visitors. The church was built from 1718-1738 by Giovanni Antonio Scalfraotto and displays Neoclassical architecture but in certain areas is modeled after the Pantheon and Byzantine architecture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Valerie Halbert)

The San Simeone Piccolo church and its aqua dome sit across the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy, and act as a sort of starting point for most visitors. The church was built from 1718-1738 by Giovanni Antonio Scalfraotto and displays Neoclassical architecture but in certain areas is modeled after the Pantheon and Byzantine architecture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Valerie Halbert)

Crowds of people walk through the St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy. The square has been the city center for centuries and houses St. Mark’s Basilica, St. Mark’s Campanile, and Doge’s Palace. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carey Smith)

Crowds of people walk through the St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy. The square has been the city center for centuries and houses St. Mark’s Basilica, St. Mark’s Campanile, and Doge’s Palace. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carey Smith)

Boats line a canal in Venice, Italy. Venice is made up of tiny islands and connected by bridges and walkways. There are 150 canals in Venice which makes traveling across the water a popular choice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carey Smith)

Boats line a canal in Venice, Italy. Venice is made up of tiny islands and connected by bridges and walkways. There are 150 canals in Venice which makes traveling across the water a popular choice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carey Smith)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy --

Venice is most likely your first stop after you move to Aviano. And why not? It’s a short train ride away, the food options are plentiful, architectural monuments line the canals, history envelops you, what’s not to like?

Oh yeah…the crowds can be a little rough, but personally I think that’s a small price to pay.

As I step out of the Santa Lucia train station I walk straight into the bustling streets of the Grand Canal. The San Simeone Piccolo church and its aqua dome sit across the canal and act as a sort of starting point for most visitors.

The church was built from 1718-1738 by Giovanni Antonio Scalfraotto and displays Neoclassical architecture but in certain areas is modeled after the Pantheon and Byzantine architecture.

Here I have two choices, either cross the Ponte degli Scalzi bridge towards St. Mark’s Square and walk the small streets full of vendors, shops, museums and cafes, or catch a water taxi or gondola and travel along the waterways.

I personally enjoy walking through the streets to enjoy the full Venetian atmosphere. Depending on the time of year, many of the vendors and shops begin showcasing the beautifully crafted Venetian masks for the famous Carnivale di Venezia.

The Carnivale is an annual festival which takes place from January and February where people flock to Venice dressed in classical Venetian attire and don their ornate masks. Throughout the festival the city transforms into a magical place with hundreds of events, celebrations, reenactments, and shows on the water.

I have been very lucky to visit Venice during all four seasons and I have enjoyed the changes the city goes through each time, but I will say visiting during Carnivale has been my favorite experience so far.

Usually as I walk through the streets and alleyways, I don’t have a main destination in mind, I just follow the arrows painted on the buildings towards the Rialto Bridge and make stops along the way.

Small alleyways off the beaten path can hold many interesting finds so I highly recommend getting “lost” and taking detours as you make your way towards some of the more prominent sites.

One of those more prominent sites is the Rialto Bridge. The Rialto Bridge is the oldest and most famous bridge that crosses the Grand Canal in the heart of Venice. It was built between 1588 and 1591 and was the only point of pedestrian crossings until the 1850s.

Walking across the bridge as it is today is pretty spectacular. Several shops line either side of bridge and the views across the busy canal remind me of a very different time.

After crossing the bridge, I head towards the Piazza San Marco, or St. Mark’s Square. As I walk into the square, I can drastically feel the contrast of the large open piazza from the winding alleyways I just came from.

The square has been the city center for centuries and houses St. Mark’s Basilica, St. Mark’s Campanile, and Doge’s Palace. Cafes and wine bars in the square are great options for snacks, drinks, a boost of energy from some espresso, and some great people watching.

Luckily, the square overlooks the water and it’s the perfect place to catch a water taxi back to the train station.

Although I’ve visited Venice many times, I still manage to see something new every time. I hope to continue making more trips, having different experiences, meeting new people, and eating great food.