Without doubt, the least favorite time of our holiday. Not because we weren’t humbled by Basilica di San Marco or wowed by the “Secret Itineraries” tour and history of Doges Palace, but because we had to wade through the “Follow the Sunflower” groups of stodgy old people, and skirt around the stupid college students walking barefoot in the “Aqua Alta” (high tide) taking selfies and families waiting to pose with sky rats pigeons in order to appreciate what we had come to see.

These two photos alone equate to approximately 4.000 visitors, of which 3.900 want to tour Piazza San Marco at the same time. Feel our misery.

Venice, legend has it, does not offer benches and sitting spaces in order to encourage visitors to step in to a restaurant and to not picnic on the streets. There’s no time for that when you’ve got to meet the “Hello Kitty” balloon or the “Winged Lion Flag #34,” though, so the raised walkways (for Aqua Alta) become repurposed.

Aqua Alta is a serious matter in Venice, and though we had packed Wellies, we thought to sneak a peek at the tide levels before heading to Piazza San Marco dressed as if expecting to board Noah’s Ark. On the day we visited, the high tide levels reached approximately 8cm (3inches). This family, though, was taking no chance.

Of course Basilica di San Marco would be under scaffolding for our visit. Our family travel photo album is filled with scaffolded Neuschwanstein, Brandenburg Gate, and Sagrada Familia. What’s another scaffolded famous European landmark for our photo set?

It must have been “Ready Spaghetti” time for the tour groups, for the queue to enter the basilica was not more than 15 minutes. “NO PHOTOS” signs abounded, but I was weak and gave in to the peer pressure of those around me snapping away with iPads and full Nikon flash. Forgive me.

Doges Palace, once the supreme authority of the Republic of Venice, now a museum that is best viewed with the small and informative Secret Itineraries tour. This was a highlight of our time in Piazzo San Marco.

Tony and Anna Grace took the lift to the top of the piazza’s bell tower while I basked in the warm sun and people watched. Pretty views.

And last, two of our favorite photos, taken long before the tourists left their hotels and after most of the day-trippers retreated to their cruise ships. This is how we choose to remember Piazza San Marco.