Pigeon girl

Pigeon girl

Stocked up on pigeon feed

Stocked up on pigeon feed

Another day, another pigeon-feeding opportunity

Another day, another pigeon-feeding opportunity

Much needed gelato-break.  Venice in August is HOT.

Much needed gelato-break. Venice in August is HOT.

A masked princess and her Daddy

A masked princess and her Daddy

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Final pigeon day, this time with arms covered!

Final pigeon day, this time with arms covered!

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Some people travel to Venice for the romance, for the art, for the canals and the gondolas (or the gondaliers!)…and once upon a time there was a 6-year old girl who had her heart set on feeding the pigeons in St. Mark’s Square.

As we checked into our fabulous Airbnb apartment rental located a stone’s throw from St. Mark’s Square in a sixth-floor walk-up with a view of the Doge’s Palace, Zara was vibrating with excitement about feeding the pigeons, even though I had already mentioned that there may be a pigeon-feeding ban. As our host showed us around the apartment, Zara couldn’t contain herself (and was oblivious to the warning looks I was shooting her way) and started chattering enthusiastically what she would feed to the pigeons.

“It’s illegal to feed the pigeons,” our host said.  And with that simple sentence, Zara’s face crumpled.

Fortunately, the Venice police didn’t make enforcement of this ban a high priority — their primary targets were the birdseed sellers, not the enthusiastic tourists who gather to be pecked at and accosted by these flying rats.

Thus, one of our daily rituals became passing through the square so that Zara could feed the pigeons while hundreds of Chinese tourists made her the focus of their photo shoots.

Warning:  Pigeon-feeding requires appropriate attire–wear long sleeves. Zara’s bare arms were covered with pigeon scratches after a particularly long feeding session and I spent the rest of the day worried about whether the scratches had broken the skin and infected her with a pigeon virus. (I’m relieved to report that three weeks on there have been no worrying symptoms.)

When we weren’t feeding pigeons, we were sweating as we jostled our way through crowds and eating overpriced, mediocre Italian fare.  And of course we took a gondola ride (the day after an unfortunate German tourist had been crushed to death in front of his family when his gondola collided with a vaporetto in the crammed canals).

We also spent a couple of hours at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, viewing the heiress’s modern art collection, which is housed in her former home on the Grand Canal, although there were at least a few contemporary pieces that had Jonathan literally crying out in disbelief at the “art”.

The Rose (but you'd be forgiven for calling it mistaking it with graph paper)

The Rose (but you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for graph paper)

On the positive side, the heat provided a convenient excuse for Aperol Spritzes, although Italians never seem to need an excuse to drink (wine before noon is a common sight).

I’m not sure that I would choose to visit Venice again in August. The crowds were like locusts swarming every popular site and the heat was, well, HOT.  On the plus side, it didn’t smell as “ripe” as I’d feared and we didn’t have any flooding.

In all seriousness, I love Venice, just maybe not in August.  I think that this applies to Italy generally.  At least I didn’t have to drive in Venice…

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