Doug Estey



I'm not sure anything could have prepared me for going back in time to the 16th century, but here we are in Venice, and I'm pretty struck.

No cars. Anywhere at all.


It's nothing short of incredible to see a city in our world operate like this.


Admittedly, the swathes of other tourists were a bit much at first. Venice receives over 20 million visitors a year, while only 56,000 people live in the city itself. But as we ventured further from San Marco - a vast piazza with an enormous 11th century basilica as its cornerstone that operates more or less as the city's core - we were able to move around much more freely, stumbling around one of Italy's most iconic landscapes like it was our own personal treasure hunt.


When we discovered Ai Mercanti, we decided it was worth it to get a little fancy for lunch.

Even if we weren't particularly dressed for the occasion.

Coming from Rome, Venice was a nice change of pace. We didn't have any kind of itinerary here, and since we were only spending two nights it made the most sense to simply wander and wait to see what we stumbled across.


Like this little shop owned by Paolo Olbi, a stalwart of the city's true remaining artisans. He spoke many languages, but smiled and shook his head when we answered "inglese" - through my rusty French we learned that he's been stamping patterns into leather covers and binding books by hand for sixty years.


So long, Italy. We're off to Denmark.


Doug Estey

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