::I went to Venice a few months ago, when it was surprisingly warm and traipsing around in the same unwashed Zara knit dress (hem shamefully sliced from maxi to jagged midi) was acceptable. It was beautiful and the back streets were romantic, but I struggled to fill 4 full days and on the last I eschewed sight seeing for a game of merlot-fueled Chinese poker in an Irish pub that spanned far, far too long (I think I won).
I went there with two prior impressions of Venice: 1) level 2 of Tomb Raider 2, and 2) Don't Look Now. And maybe some partially-formed views from stalking Natalie Portman or Monica Belllucci on thefashionspot whenever they grace the Venice Film Festival, in which case Venice was blurred into oblivion and really an inconsequential backdrop. I mean, Monica could be dressed in a Puma tracksuit, stocking up on Dolmio at Lidl and I'd still be entranced. Anyway, the reality of Venice was something rather different: I was met with a wave of sandals-with-socks clad American pensioners all fighting their way to the next gelateria or pizzeria or St Marks Square, or all three.
I'm not judging, that's fine if you're 85 years old and 85 kilos and want to see the world when you're finally free from work and kids. There were dozens of little hidden alleys and squares to discover, further afield than the city's tourist centre. But wait, you said you're feeling hungry? This is Venice's biggest let-down: the dismal, shamefully bad food. How many times can you eat some variation on lasagna/spaghetti/god forbid, a lukewarm calzone? Yeah I was on a budget, but I still dared to venture up to the more posh places and check out their menus - but only when Mattias wasn't looking, playing with the filter settings on his camera phone and lamenting the loss of our Canon baby somewhere in Khao Sok. I still think about you, baby. But even the ridiculously-priced menus had the same kind of fodder - chicken, liver, squid dishes, all served with indifference. Gah - my Italian teachers never told me that if you go to Venice to practice your Italian, you'll only be met with proud, over-enunciated English answers. Ma, vorrei parlare ... oh fine. The only people willing to speak in Italian were people who could ONLY speak Italian, like bus drivers and the butch lady who gave me very compassionate directions to the ferry.
Highlights: the amazing architecture biennale that made me wish I too was an architecture school drop-out like Justine Frischmann and Brett Anderson. The weather. The little wine bars with no seats and the flirting teenagers outside them. NOT the food. The food at the airport. Taking M's gelato and rubbing it in his beard until it was all gone on the ferry (melon and lemon, ho ricordato!)