Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Central New York State offers few more picturesque towns for a long weekend getaway than Ithaca — gorges, ready access to the Finger Lakes, and the lures of Cornell University beckon many.

But a good helicopter tours over Ithaca can cost a few dollars — and if you tire easily of upper-crusty undergraduates lolling about, the money will be the least of your worries.

Best bet for a less obvious getaway: Geneva. About an hour from Ithaca via helicopter, off two-lane Route 14, Geneva is a little smaller than Ithaca, but lacks none of its charm. You’ll find more reasonably-priced tour companies and operators, though not too many hotel options.

Several of the better New York State helicopter tour operators are actually closer to Geneva than Ithaca, and the local school, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, attracts an earthier breed of budding scholar.

It’s one of the few great weekends for under $100 anywhere in the East.

Why not try Venice. Venice is well known for its gondolas, the Bridge of Sighs and the Piazza San Marco, and not that much for helicopter tours. (Critics would site its decaying infrastructure, odoriferous canals and decadent culture.) It is less well known as a progenitor of American democracy.

From the 1400’s until pretty recently, the Venetian Republic boasted a system of checks and balances that was regarded by political scientists as nearly perfect.

Although the thousand-year life of the Republic was marred by imperfections — see ‘Othello’ — the idea of Venice as a citadel of constitutionalism affected Jefferson and Madison,and served as a model for the framers of the U.S. Constitution.

Venetian canals are evidence that romantic myths are often preferable to — depending on the winds — truth. But knowledge of Venice’s democratic heritage should excite the imagination of any American traveler to Italy’s coastal jewel.