Italy vs. Las Vegas: Prices, floods and a mess

St. Mark’s square—flooded.
Photo: --{@rwen/Flickr

Ciao ciao, my American friends. I’m back from a nine-day trip to Italy, and there’s much to report regarding how Rome and Venice differ from Caesars Palace and Venetian. (Ever notice how many the Strip’s biggest casinos are Italian-themed?)

Biggest difference between Rome’s fashion district and the Caesars Forum Shops: the prices. But can you guess where they’re higher? Give you a hint: It ain’t Rome.

Bonus lesson from the extremely crowded Tuscany: In Italian, “casino” doesn’t mean casino. I kept overhearing the tour guides and church guides and castle guides talking to each other about what a “casino” everything was. When I finally asked, I learned that “casino” means mess.

Biggest difference between the St. Mark’s Square in Venice and the replica in Venetian: the water. St. Mark’s in Venice floods 400 times a year. Meaning some days, it floods two or three times. The water doesn’t pour in from the shores; it comes up through the holes in the center of the square, meant to drain the rainwater. The tide goes up every six hours—four times a day.

The water creeps into St. Mark’s Basilica, too. (That’s the Square’s church that holds the body of St. Mark.) When it floods, you have to enter and exit the church on raised wooden boards.

But on the whole, Venetian got St. Mark's right. Amazingly right. The buildings, the architecture, the restaurants, the “outdoor” musicians, the gelato stands. If you took a native Venetian and stuck him in the Venetian's indoor St. Mark's replica, I'm guessing he’d freak out.

On the last night of the trip I went to one of Venice’s two casinos and played blackjack. The dealer made me play two hands until another player sat down, at which point I was permitted to play one. Please, somebody, explain the reasoning on that one to me.

Other observed differences:

-The dealer takes her second card only after the players have acted.

-When players double down, they’re allowed to set the extra chips directly on top of their initial bets.

-Every table, no matter the limit, dealt from an automatic shuffler. But it’s hard to complain too much about it … considering I walked away a 110-Euro winner.

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