Venice Moments, at Just the Right Time

Friday, April 8, 2022 | Venice, Italy

A Venetian flag flutters over one of the canals that remain the city's primary arteries.

Given how widely I've been fortunate to travel, it takes a lot to shock me. But the view as we emerged from the Venice train station, squinting in the afternoon sun, really stopped me in my tracks: beyond a small plaza lay the sparkling emerald water of the Grand Canal, crisscrossed by gondolas, water taxis, and pleasure craft—just as I'd always imagined it, yes, but very much alive.

Or maybe I had just forgotten how it feels to travel. By the time Nina, Stella, and I visited Venice back in September, it had been nearly two years since our last proper vacation. After a few days in South Tyrol (the rugged slice of northern Italy that is largely Germanic in language and culture) we spent four nights in Venice. It was a chance to finally discover a place we had both longed to visit but—put off by horror stories of overcrowding—had never dared to.

Amid perfect late summer weather, we spent our days meandering through the city, gelato in hand and Stella in the backpack. We took a sunset gondola ride, snapped a thousand photos, and toured the Basilica di San Marco and Doge's Palace. (The latter is a fascinating relic of Venice's opulence during its heyday as the capital of a sprawling maritime empire and an enlightened hub of commerce and the arts.) We discovered a favorite restaurant, Al Vecio Portal, with astounding seafoods and pastas served in a secluded garden—where little Stella charmed the waiters and fellow patrons several evenings in a row.