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Okay, time is running out in Italy. With only one day left, here are my big dilemmas about what to do in Venice:
Dilemma #1: Should we take a cheesy gondola ride in Venice?
This is our honeymoon. We should be doing romantic things like gondola rides. But wait, aren’t Mark and I are too hip and urban for tourist traps like that? But then, if you have to tell yourselves you are hip and urban, you probably aren’t. And if you truly were hip and urban wouldn’t it be the hippest most urban thing ever to transcend the unhip and ride a gondola?
The question is, will people recognize the irony and notice our deep innately cool factor as we float down the Venice canals? The bigger question is, does it matter? When you’re trying to decide what to do in Venice you need to think of things like that.
Dilemma #2: Should we try to get a dinner reservation at Harry’s Bar?
I’d be all over Harry’s Bar if it wasn’t for the eye flick. Mark and I went to Harry’s Bar on the Grand Canal just off St Mark’s Square – the place that Hemingway made famous and where Bellinis were created (champagne and peach. yum.)
To be truthful, Harry’s Bar is not much to look at, at least not the part we saw, and certainly not compared to the glorious Longhi Bar at the Hotel Gritti Palace, our honeymoon hotel of choice.
Knowing (because of my international sophistication and aforementioned hip and urban-ness) that there is the upstairs part at Harry’s Bar, where ahem, Angelina and Brad are known to hang out, I asked the very intelligent question, “Isn’t there an upstairs?” and the bartender flicked, yes flicked, his eyes at me, that briefest of up and down looks, and, after the tiniest pause, said, “Yes madame, but it’s not open until 7.”
The flick! The flick! Even Mark noticed the flick that in Venice says, you are not worthy. We are a mighty city with a history of wealth and power and you are not of us.
Meanwhile Mark murmurs, “Maybe we should come back when we’ve changed,” even though he’d be far happier sitting in a little trattoria somewhere. And maybe I shouldn’t have worn my hiking boots into Harry’s Bar because this is supposed to be a honeymoon full of luxury travel and I should be looking divine at all times, but it was raining that day and we had to sludge along the streets somehow.
(In the end we did have a drink at Harry’s Bar, in the lesser-status bottom part. Mark had a sherry and I had a hot milk, which just goes to show, once again, how truly cosmopolitan I am, because I drank it with irony.)
Dilemma #3: Should we buy a Murano glass chandelier in Venice?
If you’re wondering what to do in Venice, think about shopping. Oh, how I want a Murano glass chandelier! I’ve coveted these strange amazing objects ever since I saw the ornate chandeliers in the bar of the Danieli Hotel on the Grand Canal a few years ago and thought, Are those for real? Can that crazy confection of colours and flowers hoodwink us into thinking it’s elegant?
Murano glass chandeliers look like something the artist Jeff Koons would have done in the 80s (but chandeliers like these go back centuries. There is a stunning original from the 1700s at Ca’Rezonnico, a palace on the Grand Canal that’s been turned into the Museum of 18th century Venice, so if you’re ever wondering what to do in Venice on a cultural level, you should definitely go there.)
And then … and then, after a few seconds of looking at those Danieli chandeliers I fell in love. It was instant, as if the melted glass flowed right into my veins.
It’s been 7 years since I first saw those chandeliers and I’ve lusted after one ever since. Wouldn’t it be a symbol of Mark’s and my new life together if we bought one? A precious object that is fragile but, if treated with care, will last forever? And what an incredible souvenir of our honeymoon. Handmade glass from the island of Murano.
Or am I falling into another tourist snare like Alice down the rabbit hole. Murano glass isn’t cheap – we’ve seen the price for chandeliers range from about $800 to gulp, more than $14,000 (of course that was the one I really liked.) And does it matter that we don’t actually have a dining room to put it in? I mean, yet.
While I’m thinking all this, Mark is thinking, Is this what I have to look forward to for the rest of my life? Touring Europe through its spas and glass shops?
And my response is, “Not just Europe, honey, the world.”
You also might enjoy (or not):
Romantic Venice on my own (from a previous trip)
Read more: about the Top Cities to Visit in Italy
For more of the best places in Europe to see: visit Top Destinations in Europe
Aw, thanks, Ewan!
A witty and informative article, loved it!
Gorgeous photos, I love Venice but we went in July it was so crowded it almost spoilt it. I think out of season is definitely the best time to go!
Thanks, Carol and Lesley, yes, we did buy a chandelier. With black and gold flowers. I can’t wait to see it. Hopefully it will arrive in one piece!
Beautiful photos! I love the traditional chandeliers that look like twisted candy but I can also imagine that vivid blue sculpture as a lamp. Didja get one??
First off love you clear and sharp photos of Venice. I very much like your thought; “And what an incredible souvenir of our honeymoon” – The Murano glass chandelier pictured is perfect. Go for it. So happy for you both.
So did you get the chandelier? and if so, just where would it be installed?
Screw the gondola and the glassware and storm back to Harry’s @7 and don’t forget to flick the waiter:-)