Venice is one of those magical, almost surreal cities that everyone should visit at least once if they can. The other worldly, magical feel of the city will stay with you for the rest of your life. Made up of 118 islands separated by canals and linked by 409 bridges, there’s lots to explore -just avoid the high season in July and August when prices go up and there are tons of other tourists!
Originally written in Swedish, Vendela in Venice starts with a description of all of the things in Stockholm that are linked to Venice including copies of the four horses in Venice, and the Piraeus Lion at the Historical museum which is a copy of the lion at the Venetian Arsenal. The lion is covered in Scandinavian runic graffiti from 1000 years ago, though the inscriptions were not recognized as runes until the late 1800s.
Vendela’s dad decides it is time for them to take a trip to Venice and they start planning. They read books about Venice, learn a little bit about the history of the city and finally it is time to go. They fly into Marco Polo airport on the mainland and decide to take the boat to Venice, which I agree is the best way to enter the city, especially at night when it is all lit up as it is in the story.
The next day, they’re off to see the sights and Vendela’s dad offers her a choice of walking or taking the vaporetto (water bus). Vendella, of course, opts for the vaporetto which is a great way to see the city and is an adventure in and of itself. Her dad explains how the Lion of St. Mark became the symbol of Venice and during the rest of the story, Vendella goes looking for as many lions as she can find (they are everywhere and finding them is a good game for children). They of course stop and look at the four horses, both the replicas mounted over the front of St. Mark’s Cathedral and the real ones just inside the church. Then it’s time for a quick break at Florian‘s, a cafe which has been around since 1720.
During her trip, Vendela and her father visit hit many of the highlights of Venice, traveling to Murano to watch the glass blowing, viewing the paintings in the Gallerie Academia, visiting the fish market and a gondola workshop as well as a tour of Scuolo di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni to see the paintings of St. George and the dragon by Carpaccio.
Though told as a story Vendela in Venice, written by Christina Björk and illustrated by Inga-Karin Eriksson, is really a children’s guidebook in the guise of a story. It is full of information on things to see and do and the history of Venice from the time it was founded to the present day, including a discussion of the periodic flooding that Venice experiences. Though a little dry, it’s a great introduction to the art and culture of Venice. We read it a chapter at a time and my boys really enjoyed looking at the pictures and planning what they wanted to see when we one day go to Venice (including hunting for lions!).