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Written Friday, July 12th: So we came to Venice today but we nearly didn't after getting on the wrong train at Florence station, only changing to the correct one a few minutes before it left. Thankfully we did not go to Milan, and arrived just a few hours later at Venezia Santa Lucia.

Getting the vaporetto to the Giardini stop was easy enough, too. Pity about the horrible little child sitting opposite us, who kept squealing, shouting, biting his mother on the arm. What are the local laws about throwing small kids into the lido, I wondered?

That was the only cloud during the entire day. Despite what several people have told us, we found on our first stroll around the city that: a) Venice is nowhere near as crowded as Florence, not even on Piazza San Marco at night; b) it does not smell bad; c) we didn't get horribly lost during several hours of wandering small streets, walking under low arcades and over small bridges.

We also popped in to see the Welsh exhibit for the biennale. It was unmemorable, identikit installation art, which I suspect makes it no worse than most of what we will see on Saturday. The city itself is the work of art: grand, ancient, decaying, shabby, delicate, magnificent, absurd, breathtaking, transfixing, somnambulant.


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