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One year ago I was in beautiful Venice. Corona had already taken hold in some of the Northern towns of Italy with local lockdowns however the city of Venice was still ‘open for business’ and we decided to continue with our trip. The plane was approximately half full on the way with many having changed or cancelled their plans. At that point there was no requirements to wear masks however a few people chose to. On arrival we had our temperatures checked by people in spacesuits and it was the first time things felt real as back in the UK there was little concern about the virus with only a handful of confirmed cases. If we knew then what we do now we obviously wouldn’t have gone ahead with the trip however hindsight is a wonderful thing.
We took the opportunity to explore the city without the usual volume of tourists. Having visited twice before, I was well aware of how crammed the narrow alleyways and bridges can be and it was eery to see them completely empty and silent. You could be walking for a while without coming across another person which is unheard of in any city however for Venice it was particularly poignant. While it was (and still is) tragic for local businesses and the tourist industry, we decided to focus on the positive of being able to properly explore and see the true beauty of the place without the usual swarms of people. We had interesting conversations with staff in restaurants which wouldn’t have happened had we not been the only customers in the place. Sales assistants in shops couldn’t have been more attentive, again something that wouldn’t have been possible had there been hundreds of other shoppers. The hotel staff couldn’t have been more helpful, giving us tips and advice of things to do and places to visit as well as being exceptionally friendly and making us feel at home.
We managed to squeeze so much in to the 4 day trip as we didn’t have to wait in any lines or queues to get into places or on to the water taxis. We could hop on and off as we pleased, walk straight into museums or art galleries (some were closed) and wander round at our leisure. We ate pizza, pasta and gelato in abundance, fuelling us up after walking what felt like 100,000 steps per day. We got lost in the narrow streets which in my opinion is the best part about Venice. The hidden gems you encounter are far greater than the well known artefacts.
Overall I feel extremely privileged to have explored the city during a unique and quiet time which I’m sure won’t be possible in the future.