Is it really too crowded in Venice? I say yes—and no.
Yes, it’s hard to get around when there are dozens of people trying to squeeze through the same six-foot wide walkway to get to St. Mark’s Square.
And yes, the Grand Canal looks like the aquatic version of Interstate 95 at rush hour.
But if you turn off the main route, it only takes a couple of blocks until you emerge in an entirely different world.
Just pick a random passageway and walk away from the Grand Canal action. Quickly, you enter a postcard. It’s quiet, serene. A turquoise rowboat moors against a 500-year old brick wall. Light sparkles off the canal.
For a minute, you have Venice to yourself.
You stroll along the canal, look up at gothic windows with their characteristic pointed arches. Grip a wrought iron handrail as you cross a bridge.
You wind your way through alleys and navigate bridges. You discover a columned church wrapped in marble panels. The varying shades of marble and juxtaposition of vein directions create a soft and elegant texture. It had to have taken years to piece the inlays into place. Just looking at the elegant play of shapes and colors makes you swoon.
You cross an arched stone bridge over the canal. After pausing to watch a gondolier glide by, you choose your next passageway.
Once again, taking the effort to stray from the main path has paid off. You have no idea where you’ll end up. But do you really care?