This summer I embarked on my first solo trip. Having always been away with friends or family, I was both excited and apprehensive of the idea of travelling on my own. With plans to visit Eastern Europe to keep the cost of my trip down, I was instead persuaded to visit Venice by my worried mother.
Venice, Italy’s most iconic and romantic city. Images of gondolas and the bustling square of San Marco spring to mind. The thought of visiting the beautiful city of Venice was never high up on my priority list. With the purchase of a D.K guidebook I was able to research how to spend my 3 days. From first appearances it seemed to me that Venice was a city of churches and art galleries. Trying to keep an open mind on what to expect on my first solo trip, I was pleasantly surprised with first impressions.
Arriving at midday to 30 degrees and beautiful clear skies, the blue aqua canals which greeted me as I made my way from Piazzale Rome to my hotel were a welcoming and refreshing sight. My first day followed on a similar path. Many hours I spent getting lost, enchanted with the charming scenery playing out in front of me. Blue lagoons, speeding boats, and striking Venetian buildings sailed past as I explored the surrounding area of San Polo. It was towards the end of my first day that I began to feel lonely. Sitting down in a cute courtyard near the Academia Galleries I thought to myself, why am I here alone. This feeling of self-questioning, I believe was a result of the rude waitress serving me and the sense, as a lone diner, I was taking up their space and time. A feeling which as a paying customer you should not sense. I pushed this feeling to the back of my mind as I had also done earlier that day in a coffee shop near Piazzale Roma, and took my time refusing to rush my glass of Prosecco.
Waking up relatively early on my second day, wanting to make the most of my limited time; leaving the hotel at half nine I made my way over to San Marco hoping to avoid the crowds and tour groups I had spotted blocking the streets the day before. Arriving in the bustling centre I was marvelled at the huge number of people milling about at such a time in the morning. After a spot of people watching, I decided to join the already long queue to visit the Basilicia San Marco. It was my visit to San Marco that the feeling of being alone crept back up, wishing I was able to turn to someone and admire the surrounding sights. Queueing to enter the Campanile I was surrounded by couples and families, laughing and joking with each other helping to pass the time. It was my experience is Piazza San Marco that summed up Venice for me. Venice is a city for couples, the gondolas, the masks, and alfresco restaurants are all perfect for loved up tourists. For the solo traveller Venice is bearable, but the feeling of loneliness is apparent when the evening rolls around.
For me travelling solo in Venice was a disappointment. Venice is an obvious couple’s location, a fact which I had known before but was hoping to be incorrect. Being alone in this gorgeous city would not have been as bad if you had felt welcomed by the locals. Feeling like you are unwanted and not even worth their time is a feeling that no one should experience. As a paying customer but also as a tourist visiting their town, this lack of manners does not leave a positive impression, and the rudeness which I experienced is one of the first things I mention when asked about my recent trip. Having visited Italy before, I was shocked with the attitude I received in my three days, and which subconsciously has left a nasty dent on my final impression. I do believe however that if I was not travelling solo and with friends this unfriendly attitude which I received would in fact been ignorable and make less of a mark by being able to have someone to turn to and laugh it off with.