By: Emma Leiper of Little Bella Online.
For many people, the words ‘honeymoon’ and ‘Venice’ go hand in hand. It is after all, the City of Love, and what could be more romantic than a gondola ride for two gliding through the Venetian waterways, or nuzzling into your beau whilst sipping on a sumptuous glass of prosecco in the charming Florian cafe, enjoying the ambience of St. Mark’s Square and the seductive sounds of the orchestra.
Given Venice’s romantic associations, it is somewhat ironic that the city hasn’t exactly had a history of blossoming true love. The annals of Venice cite domestic disputes of the conjugal kind all over the place – husbands decapitating their cheating wives; fathers killing their daughters for marrying the wrong guy; ghosts cutting off the ring fingers of their very much alive lovers... And let’s not forget Casanova, who spent more time treating his romantically-acquired diseases than pursuing his love interests. I know the course of true love never runs smoothly, but really, how rough can it get?
Honeymooning in Venice is therefore not exactly a good omen. Those who do decide to venture to the alleged City of Love to celebrate their new found marital status are opening themselves up to a minefield of romantic disasters just waiting to happen, with death traps and nervous breakdowns around every canal way. An inadvertent footstep during an amorous moonlit stroll home after a few glasses of wine can result in an unexpected tumble into the murky waters. Unlikely, you may say, but I have in fact seen this happen. The unfortunate recipient of the Grand Canal bath emerged from its depths splashing and spluttering, his horrified lady-friend looking on in shock.
Endeavouring onto the waters for a romantic paddle is also fraught with danger. A litany of fast-moving boats, cruises, and waterbuses will whizz past you at all angles, literally rocking your boat and threatening to send you to a watery grave. During my own honeymoon in Venice I persuaded my husband that a kayak trip around the city would be fun, envisaging us sharing a wonderful experience together, working as man and wife to explore the environs of this magical city. I did not, however, envisage the near-death experience that was being nearly hit by a speeding boat whose driver wasn’t looking where he was going. The husband, as one can expect, was unimpressed.
This leads nicely on to my next point. When not contending with the daily hazards of Venetian life, you will discover that Venice is the cause of many an argument. High up on the list of the main impetuses is getting lost. Rather than gazing longingly into your loved ones eyes, you’ll be staring longingly at your map at the destination you want to be at and despairing at how you’re going to reach it in the labyrinth that is Venice’s streets. That cosy moonlit stroll quickly descends into exasperation at not knowing which direction leads back to your hotel, annoyance at your other half for taking you down a street that leads to a dead-end, and irritation that no one can help you because they’re as befuddled as you are as to which way to go.
Then when you do know where you’re going, you’ve got to compete with the hordes of fellow tourists moving through the tiny streets, turning a twenty minute journey to that lovely romantic restaurant you read about in your guide book into an hour long street wrestle. That’s of course assuming you know the way to the restaurant in the first place.
If you’re travelling on one of the city’s many water buses, you may find solace in the form of a warm embrace. Just don’t expect that embrace to be your significant other’s. The vast quantities of people crammed into the city’s vaporetti will bestow upon you a startling level of intimacy as you are sandwiched in-between throngs of stressed out, perspiring tourists grappling with their maps and falling over their suitcases. The locals of Venice will shake their head at the imbecile tourists taking over their city, tut loudly, and shove you out of the way as they leave the bus, causing a cascade of tourists to stand on your toes and lean in so close that you can smell what they had for lunch. The only other option is to hang precariously over the side of the boat to get some air.
I won’t even begin to discuss the perplexities and trauma involved in sourcing the correct water bus, the eye-popping expense of sitting in St. Mark’s Square having a glass of vino, or the daily rudeness of Venetian shopkeepers who will gladly take your money but throw your change at you scornfully.
The purpose of a honeymoon is to start off your marriage as you mean it to go on – loving, happy, safe, and secure. In Venice, you will experience anxiety, stress, spousal disputes, hostility, possible broken toes, potentially a midnight swim in a canal, possibly even loss of life. It’s not exactly the stuff that honeymoon dreams are made of.
If you do dare to honeymoon in one of the world’s allegedly most romantic cities, be warned: it may be a honeymoon to remember for all the wrong reasons. If you want the very best start to your marriage, you might want to go to Florence instead.
Disclaimer: The author’s opinions are her own and are based entirely on her own thoughts and experiences of looking for love and latterly honeymooning in Venice. The author is pleased to confirm that her marriage is still healthy and intact, despite her Venetian honeymoon adventures. The husband, however, reserves the right to say that boating in Venice is not, and never will be, a romantic activity, regardless of whether you nearly get mowed down by another boat or not.