November Break 2019:
The Rumbles FINALLY go to Italy together
As everyone knows, back in 2014 I left Chris behind to go study abroad in Florence, Italy. Although we have been living in Europe for three years now, we never made a trip for me to go back and to show Chris my favorite country in the world. We figured it’s been long enough that we absolutely needed to spend this break exploring the country that tore us apart many years ago.
First stop: VENICE! A place I didn’t get to during my time abroad that has been lingering on my bucket list!
November 4-5, 2019
We flew out of Düsseldorf Airport right into Venice on Monday morning (after sleeping in the car for a couple hours since our flight was super early). Once we arrived, we made our way over to the water taxi station to take us to Venice. Yes, Venice is completely surrounded by water and the only way in is by boat or train. It was such a weird experience doing this first thing after that early flight, I didn’t even feel like I was in Italy! The sun was shining brightly and as we pulled up to the city, we were in amazement of how beautiful the entrance to the city was. Our first few steps off the boat had our jaws dropped to the floor. We walked right into Piazza San Marco where the infamous San Marco Basilica stands and is right next to a beautiful building known as the Doge’s Palace. Although I have seen Italy before, and lots of places in Europe, there was something special about Venice’s beauty that captured mine and Chris’ hearts very early on.
My second favorite thing about Venice was the fact that it is the first city that has actually gotten Chris Rumble LOST! Chris is the king of maps and luckily for me, he usually has a great sense of direction wherever we go. HOWEVER, Venice is made up of soooo many little alleyways (zero cars too, by the way, the only way of transportation is by walking, biking or gondolas/boats) and many of these alleyways lead to dead ends, leading you to a Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute situation when they listened to their GPS SO well that they end up driving their car into the water.
Well, folks, Chris and I could not for the life of us find our little hotel and we ended up walking way more than we needed to because Google maps do NOT work in a city like this and it sent us in all kinds of crazy directions. We only packed a backpack each for this trip knowing very well that Italy was not made for carry-on rolly bags and thank god we were smart about that. 😬
Eventually, we found our hotel, dropped off our bags and started to walk around the beautiful city. I got Harry Potter vibes big time, walking through little alleyways, stumbling upon cute mom and pop boutique shops, cozy Italian restaurants on every corner and Chris was finally able to experience the happiness and laughter that the Italian language can bring. So many walk-by conversations or people on their phones with the classic Italian hand gestures, speaking LOUD(thenquiet) and everything ending with an O or an A that gets very accentuated! Che BELLo! I heard about this pasta to-go place called Dal Moro where you order pasta and they put it in a Chinese take-out container so we somehow maneuvered our way there and took it to San Marcos to check out the Basilica again and just walk around the city. It was such a beautiful day and we were so lucky to have a day of sunshine in Venice because we were able to really explore by walking around everywhere instead of being held back by rain and umbrellas. It definitely wasn’t like any other Italian city I’ve been to before and it was hard not to fall in love!
Then came the dreaded part: figuring out where to go to eat for dinner. The biggest struggle for each trip because we want to go to a local spot and not get tourist-trapped. In Venice, they have hosts outside every restaurant trying to get you to come inside so don’t even dare look at the menu because they will not let you go. We joked that one of the “bouncers” looked like Mike the Situation and he was out from morning until the night that day (we know that because we kept walking past him and his restaurant) – truly no one works harder than restaurant promoters…I don’t think he took one sitting break!
After walking around the city sharing some boxed wine (literally tastes amazing in Italy) we ended up just getting a charcuterie board, calamari and a bottle of wine to split for dinner that night. It was too overwhelming with the options that we settled on a relaxed first night – we knew our week would be filled with more pasta and pizza so there was no need to rush. This was actually Chris’s first time having a charcuterie board for dinner like this before and he really enjoyed it – we ate every single thing on the board and had a lightly drunk and full of laughter dinner that was a great way to start off our week in Italy.
After dinner we checked out a famous library in Venice called Libreria Acqua Alta (The High Water Library). It had a lot of vintage type books that were piled up in gondolas and bathtubs and it was very unique to Venice. There even was a staircase made of old encyclopedias that when you climbed to the top you got an overview of the canals!
The next day, we woke up to some dreaded rainfall. I thought since we were so lucky that our first day was so beautiful outside that a little rain here wouldn’t be so bad. I was wrong and we learned that a little rainfall in Venice actually becomes a big problem. Venice is a city built on mud and sticks. It’s sinking. Climate change brings floods to the city every year and it is becoming an actual huge scare. We woke up and went straight to San Marcos Basilica to go inside the beautiful church, and the city had put up its rafters for pedestrians to walk on because Piazza San Marco had become a *little* flooded (I say *little* because it is nothing compared to the worst of days). We stood in the middle of the same Piazza the night before, completely dry and free of water, and the next day we were avoiding the huge and deep puddles that had taken it over! I really couldn’t believe the amount of flooding that could happen like that overnight.
It was actually crazy to see a week later after being there, Venice experienced some of its worst floodings it had seen since 1966 with tides up to just over SIX FEET! I was absolutely stunned by hearing this news because Chris and I were just there having such a great time and feeling thankful we went when we did. My heart breaks for the people of Venice that their home is under such great natural disaster and the future isn’t looking very bright. They have some mobile flood gates that were built that would lift up during times of high tide in order to keep the water from the Adriatic Sea out of the Venitian lagoon. However, scientists say this is bad for the environment as it would keep the ecosystem in the water at a standstill and ultimately is costing the country and city billions.
I am so grateful that Chris and I were able to make it to Venice and that we were able to capture its beauty and appreciate its arts, culture, and people. Who knows what the future holds for Venice – it’s scary to think about all that could be lost and something our grandchildren may only be able to read about instead of seeing it for themselves.
We made our way (on foot) to the train station, taking in the humor of how funny it is to see a whole city rely on boats to get around everywhere (including the ambulances!), check out some handmade creepy masks (representing the old-time comedy shows that used to go on here) and wanting to squeeze every local on the street because of how cute they were (I just really love Italians, ok). We ended up finding a pastry/coffee cafe that was crowded with locals where we stood and had delicious croissants (one with jelly, one with honey) and some shots of espresso (not only is the wine in Italy amazing, but the coffee is even better).
As we got further outside the city centers and more towards the train station, we stopped at the grocery store, grabbed a couple packages of charcuterie meats and cheeses (because now Chris is in love) and hopped on the train to the one…the only…FIRENZE! ❤️❤️❤️