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Do not plan Venice. Don’t tell me what you want to do and what you want to see. Put away that map that you won’t be able to read and stop trying to find your way on your cell phone map – the streets here are so convoluted even Google cannot tame them. Nothing can tame this city. Not your guidebooks, not your planning. This city doesn’t want you to plan, it wants you to wander – it wants you to lose your way. If you plan it, you will fail. The lines of the museums are long, and the prices are high. That restaurant the internet chose for you will never be found. The perfect itinerary will be full of flood waters and scaffolding.

Give yourself up to this siren song, and you will be rewarded. Flow through the city like the canals running through it, moving with the current of the arches and the alleys and the bridges and the belltowers instead of marking destinations. Choose your next left or right by which is more beautiful. This is God’s watercolor – and no artist or photographer can truly replicate it – you can only truly understand this masterpiece if you can feel the smooth marble of centuries of hands on the Rialto bridge under your own fingertips. Do not try and swim, simply be. Venice will take care of you. There are no dead-ends here, only opportunities to discover more of this incredible floating dream of a city. If you let go of your control, this city will smile – it’ll lead you to lunch places with the most decadent plates and to tiny bridges illuminated in the setting sunlight. It will carry you gently through this dreamlike world, and show you moments that can never be found in any guide book.

Do not attempt to conquer Venice – only the sea will overtake this beauty someday, eventually pulling this ruin under the surface, drowning it for the last time – the stone never coming back up for air. Allow it to conquer you. Let it overwhelm your senses and recreate your dreams, I promise you, it’ll be better than what is on your itinerary.