Pigeons in the Piazza

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Back when we were young newlyweds, Sarge and I planned a European rendezvous.

At the time, he was serving a yearlong deployment in Afghanistan, and I was working as a newspaper reporter in Hawaii. We met up on his mid-tour leave in Germany, rented a car on an Army post and set off for more countries than we had ever been – all in the span of two weeks.

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One of my favorite spots we visited was Venice, where we stayed in a hotel off the beaten path that had interesting artwork on the walls and a romantic arbor-covered restaurant in the back garden.

When we made spur-of-the-moment plans last week to take a weekend trip to Venice, I pulled out my worn Italy guidebook that I packed from the States and searched for that little hideaway. Of course, it was completely booked. It’s July in Venice. But through the magic of the internet, I found a reasonably priced apartment across the canal on the island of Giudecca, and we piled in our tiny rental car for another European road trip.

We told the boys we’d do all of the quintessential touristy things we could fit in a 24-hour tour, including taking in the art and architecture, a gondola ride, Venetian food and souvenir shops.

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I had forgotten about the birds. I had no idea one of my boys’ lasting memories of Venice might just be playing with the pigeons.

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As soon as we entered St. Mark’s Square, it wasn’t the breathtaking beauty of what Napoleon once called “the drawing room of Europe” that they boys noticed. It was the hundreds of pigeons and what seemed like almost as many Bangladeshi birdseed hawkers.

Half a dozen vendors accosted us, shoving bird food in the boys’ hands and roses in mine, and putting their palms out to Sarge for money. It probably cost Sarge 40 euro for us to walk across Piazza San Marco.

“We’re not spending money,” Sarge explained when I urged him to stop handing out coins. “We’re making memories.”

Those street hawkers loved us. The boys made it out of the pigeon frenzy alive, and I ended up with a dozen red roses.

I also had a chance to relive some nostalgic memories. We took that gondola ride with the kids, just like Sarge and I had done years before.

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And the next morning, we found that hotel with the grapevine arbor. It wasn’t open to the public for breakfast, but we snapped a few photos anyway.

We picked up some souvenirs, a glass bracelet for me and fedoras for the boys. “W” talked me into letting him get a dog, at least one made of Murano glass. Thank goodness he didn’t pick a pigeon. Those things will give me nightmares.

35 thoughts on “Pigeons in the Piazza

  1. I really enjoyed reading this entry … and it flooded me with memories of St Mark’s Square. The pigeons !!!
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    Hope the boys got to hear the stories of Casanova & the Bridge of Sighs 🙂 We miss and love you guys ❤️ Happy 4th !!

  2. Travel is definitely big on my bucket list! I love that you took your kids Venice, even though you had previously been there. Makes me reevaluate travel plans I hope to accomplish with my kids. Thanks for sharing.

  3. What a beautiful description of your family vacation! With a 10 month old, these kind of trips seem so far off in the future, but I know we will eventually get to travel again. Our first stop is Croatia to visit the family I have there!

    1. Happy travels! Babies are easy to transport. It’s all of their stuff that’s a problem! It gets easier 🙂

  4. I don’t like pigeons neither, but I remember liking to feed them in Venice when I was a kid! 😉 so lovely to have the same picture on the gondola some years later!!!

  5. This trip looks like it was absolutely amazing! I would have loved to have seen all the pigeons in the square. So cool!

  6. Oh, your beautiful photos brought back so many great memories of our own trips to Venice. What a special place and, yes, those pigeons kind of freak me out too!

  7. I’ve been to Venice 3 times – I really want to go back again with my kids. I heard the island is slowly sinking, so I hope they get to see it before there’s not much left to see!

    1. Yes, we saw one leaning building, and my son asked if it was the Leaning Tower of Pisa (or of Pizza, as he put it!) 🙂

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