Today I should have been arriving in France, followed by travels in Rome and then Venice. Of course, the corona virus has prevented me from making this trip. This will be only the second time since 1996 that I will not get to visit Venice. Though this makes me very sad, I am also grateful to have my health, to know that my family and friends are safe, and that we will see each other some time in the future.
In the meantime, I traveled to Venice virtually via a tour with Luisella Romeo. A revered tour guide and native Venetian, a few months ago Luisella pivoted her business, SeeVenice, to offer virtual tours via Zoom. My partner RJ and I chose to travel the Venetian lagoon with Luisella last month.
We mixed up some spritz, leaving a pair of them for our back-fence neighbors Karen and David, who also signed up for the tour. Though it was 10:00 am in California, it was 6:00 pm where Luisella was, so we figured it was happy hour and time for our aperitivo.
Luisella is immensely knowledgable. I always learn so much from her, and, being Venetian, she also offers a deep love of her city and its environs. She first told us about the history of the lagoon and its waterways, then dove (pun intended!) into descriptions of fishing in the lagoon. Her photos of the birds are a marvel. Joining her tour is so much more than being a tourist–I feel like I am a privileged friend joining her for a day in her beloved home town.
Sorry, but I won’t tell you more details about what we learned on our tour because I want you to experience it for yourself! Hiring Luisella for her knowledge and services is the least I can do to try to support a guide whose city has been shut by this pandemic.
Luisella currently offers five virtual tours: “Venice and its Basics;” “The Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica: Power, Justice and Religion;” “Venice and its Art: A Wonder of Colours at the Accademia Galleries;” “Jewish Venice: The Places and the People;” and of course “The Venetian Lagoon” tour that we did.
And here’s some serendipity: When Luisella opened our gathering with introduction from the six couples who had signed up, we learned that there were folks from Santa Cruz, not far from our home in San Jose, California. By the end of the tour, I had a suspicion that we knew people in common, which turned out to be true. Zooming from San Jose with our guide in Venice, we met folks from Santa Cruz, just 30 miles away. You never know how travel will bring people together.