Monday, May 20, 2013 
Venice, Italy

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  Join us on a summer tour on the Amalfi Coast, in Provence, or in Amsterdam/Belgium

That first sight of the Grand Canal as we exit the Venice train station never ceases to send a shiver of excitement down my spine – there’s no arrival in the world like this one! The water glistens a welcome under the morning sun, almost too bright to look at.
Our guests arrive tomorrow so today will be full of canal honey-dos to take care of. We ride the vaporetto number 1 down the Grand Canal, drop our luggage at the hotel, and set out along the water to do our errands. We’re in search of a gondolier who can include the Palazetto Bru Zane in his route, and we find a helpful boatman on Rio Manin and make an appointment for an evening tour – details in an upcoming blog.
I’m sure you’ve read, as we have, of the diminishing population of Venice… the city’s just too expensive for people to live in, with big corporations or wealthy foreigners buying up the palazzos and apartments, and most who work here live in Mestre or further inland, riding the train or a bus, then a boat, to get to work each day. So it’s always a pleasure to walk by one little campo (small piazza) after another, or glance down a watery lane, and see obvious clues that people DO live here. We’ve been on the water bus with students on their way to school, watched young and old trundle their groceries over the bridges, balanced with the locals on the traghettos (gondola-like craft that cross the Grand Canal in between the few bridges), or stopped at a bar for a quick morning coffee with businessmen walking to work. This often- ethereal floating city is still lived- in and alive.
Always on the look-out for another good eatery to add to our Venice list, we try Osteria Al Ponte, also known as La Patatina, for lunch – and on the list it goes!  A delicious lunch (creamy baccala – cod, with grilled polenta) in a rustic setting in the San Polo district, it’d make a good stop before or after a visit to the nearby Frari church.
Crossing the canal, we’re close to the water in a sturdy traghetto, threading among gondolas and water buses as we traverse Venice’s main street.
Our hotel room’s now ready, and what a pleasure to open the shutters to a view of one of our favorite Venice churches, San Zaccaria, as its bells ring an afternoon welcome. We settle in,then enjoy a wander as dusk falls,

past a gondola traffic jam, across a bridge or two or three, smiling with the pleasure of being here again.