Kathy and I arrived at the Venezia Santa Lucia railway station a few days before Easter in 1979. Before we left Fribourg, someone advised us to arrive at dusk (“it’s so pretty at that time of day!”). As we walked through the station, I noted a half-dozen or so people lying on the floor. We checked our guidebook and walked from pensione to pensione, only to find every single hotel booked solid. Finally, someone who spoke English told us we were crazy to come to Venice during Holy Week and think we’d get a hotel room. Ah, now the station-sleepers made more sense. And yes, we joined them. I unrolled my sleeping bag (pure luck that I had it with me) and Kathy and I bedded down for the night, our valuables tucked under our heads. The station was patrolled by a couple of the local polizia, which was comforting, I guess.
Venice was a stop on the way to Greece, anyway, so we spent the next day in Saint Mark’s Square, which was constructed in the 9th century. The square was laid out in front of the original St. Mark’s Basilica, which at the time was a small chapel attached to the Doge’s Palace. Besides people and magnificent architecture, the square is also home to a great many pigeons. They’re everywhere. They’ve caused a lot of damage to the delicate mosaics, but all attempts to reduce the population have failed.
Anyway, Kathy and I spent a long day in Venice and boarded a train that evening, one that would travel all the way down the eastern coast of Italy to Brindisi. The train was packed full of people traveling somewhere for Easter, so we had the pleasure of standing all night. I think there were finally seats available by the time we stopped in Foggia, probably around five in the morning. From Brindisi, we waited around all day until the ferry departed at night for Greece (remember “C” is for Corfu?).