The alarm clock was ringing at 08:00, when in the background some sirens were heard. It was Acqua Alta and my worst expectations came true. In addition to the forecast of the weather with more rain and wind than the previous day, the high tide joined. Especially since we would try to visit the basilica for the second time and it was now or never, apart from everything what is planned for this day.
And the big day arrived, and finally it was time to get lost in Venice, one of those cities that we should all know. Well, I already knew her. We had a visit to the Doge's Palace at 11:35, so we had taken the train tickets online to make sure we were on the 8:17 train from Padua to Venice. We bought some breakfast with some Italian sesame cookies to eat on the train and we went up. The cookies coated with sesame and other seeds, is very good.
Venice has two stations of Mestre (on the mainland) and Santa Lucia (on the island). The bridge that unites both is really beautiful, and we approach one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The exit of the station is spectacular. It is to enter the essence of Venice head on. And it has the Grand Canal in front with the typical Venetian palaces in front.
We have to go to our accommodation and we have plenty of time. So we embarked on the adventure of walking to avoid paying the costs to go by vaporetto. On the map it seems easy. It costs a little to go with suitcases, since at every second step we have to take it to overcome the bridges and its stairs. It was worth it, as we went through very beautiful corners of the most unknown Venice.
Also this area is very cheap, so we bought here the souvenirs we wanted from the city, and also started to hit the heat. The channels are very humid and it shows, so we bought a large glass of strawberries. It seems another city in the price aspect, really.
We fell in love with Venice since we left the station. Simply because we walk through the less touristy area we already hallucinate with everything. At about 10 a.m. we arrived at our accommodation. We leave the suitcases at the reception (not from our accommodation, but the one next door). We are going to kick the city.
We have something more than an hour to be in the Doge's Palace in Piazza San Marco, the main one in the city. On the way we passed a beautiful square, the Campo San Bartolomeo. We can see that we entered the tourist area of Venice. It is full, unlike the semi-deserted streets of Cannaregio that we passed on the way to our accommodation.
And we arrived quickly in less than 5 minutes to the Rialto Bridge, the best known and oldest of the four that cross the Grand Canal. Unfortunately it is under construction on one side, although we could enjoy its beautiful architecture on the other.
It is a stone bridge built at the end of the 12th century and collapsed several times until in the 1580s it was made of stone, as it still is today. We go in the direction of San Polo and we took a walk through this area. San Polo is not as pretty as San Marco, but we also liked it. However, the best are the views of the Grand Canal which is the main Venetian artery, as if it were its great avenue and the stately facades of San Marco.
We slowly leave towards Piazza San Marco, and despite not being overwhelming, in this area there are too many tourists. Luckily we went in June and there was no moment of total oppression. And finally we arrived at the well-known Piazza San Marco. For me it is the most beautiful in the world along with Batthyany ter, the Parliament of Budapest.
The Saint Mark's Basilica presides, to which we would enter the following day. I know it is a waste of time, but having the accommodation at 5 minutes we decided to separate the two visits to interiors to not tire us. Next to it is the Palazzo Ducale, which we were going to visit.
We take the tickets in advance online to see the secret itineraries. Upon arrival we put ourselves in the queue of visitors with tickets previously purchased. We deliver the receipt at the box office, and they give us our tickets. This palace is one of the symbols of power of the La Serenissima.
Despite being the residence of the Doge (leader of the Republic) it was a public building, and also hosted the seat of government, the court of justice and the prison. There were distinguished prisoners, such as Casanova, who escaped with the help of several guards.
We started the tour at 11:35 with a very friendly guide and spoke a very academic English. The tour of the secret itineraries takes us to see the jail and several rooms related to justice in Venice and its espionage service. We go up from the humid cells of the basements to the offices of the magistrates and see views of both the Palace itself and the Lagoon.
The explanations tell us a lot about the functioning of the Republic and its form of government, as well as the life of the famous adventurer and diplomat Casanova, known worldwide for his amorous escapades rather than for his diplomatic work.
I was struck by a cell for prisoners condemned to death, who saw only the rope in which days, weeks or even months later they were going to be hanged. And finally we came to the undercover, which houses a small exhibition of weapons of the time.
We finish our tour at the point where the visit to the Palace begins, which we do on our own. It is an authentic ode to luxury and opulence, with numerous works of art of incalculable value and a magnificently worked decoration.
I was very struck by the ceilings and their rich paintings. It is a real joy to see this palace, and imagine the enormous wealth that Venice achieved by being the port of connection between East and West. We arrived at the Bridge of Sighs, which is closed although it has windows overlooking the canal.
We cross the Rio di Palazzo joining the Doge's Palace with the old prison of the Inquisition. It is so called since it was the last thing that those condemned to death saw before going to the gallows. We left at 1:30 and the heat was starting to be overwhelming. We look out over the facade of San Marco to the Lagoon. In addition, at that time a large cruise ship arrived. The facade of San Marco that overlooks the lagoon is very beautiful.
The day weighs us down, mainly because of the heat. So we decided to go to the hotel to eat our sandwiches. Luckily we chose to take it in the center. In passing we see the Bridge of Sighs from another angle. We went through the reception to take the suitcases. At first we had looked at an Airbnb room in Mestre, but it did not quite convince us.
It was expensive to be in an area that I read was not completely safe. I looked at accommodations on the island, but were at the ends of the city. I searched and found this accommodation, which included the room and breakfast in an unbeatable location with incredible facilities. We did not think much about it, for one night we were going to be in Venice and for so little money difference.
It is in an old palace of the eighteenth century and we were very surprised by the room. Decorated from the era it is super comprehensive and complete, with a super comfortable bed and views of a small canal. Venice in its purest form. The bathroom is large and supercomplete. And of course everything is impeccable. In addition the breakfast is buffet and very complete.
The location is perfect. It is at the beginning of Canareggio, but only 5 minutes walking from Rialto and San Marco. We went up to the room and after hallucinating seeing the room we eat the sandwiches and rest half an hour. The half hour was extended by 10 minutes. We were tired and we appreciated the nap. But, we're in Venice and there's no time to waste.
We go running to Campo Santo Stefano, where the Venice free walking tour begins. The girl was very nice, and although she was a bit nervous for being her first time, the visit was great. We tried to find someone on this tour to share gondola, but there was no way. Between 4 or 5 it is not especially expensive, but we were left without that experience.
The Campo Santo Stefano, with San Marco in the west is very wide and beautiful. In a neighboring island the guide explains how Venice got water, and that despite being on it could not be easily supplied. The lagoon is salty, as well as the canals. Well, they had wells with holes around to filter the rainwater (abundant in Northern Italy), from which they drank.
Also, from here, we see how the islands are sandy and not straight. The Tower of Santo Stefano seems crooked from here, while from that island it is straight. It is not like that of Pisa and are effects of a city built on a lagoon.
Thanks to this tour we discover the most unknown streets and squares of San Marco. We pass by Piazza San Marco where we have 15 minutes to rest in the shade and buy some water. We continue walking around San Marco until we cross to the neighboring Cannaregio.
And it took us to one of the most amazing places in the whole city, the Acqua Alta Library, curiously on the island of our accommodation. It is a store that is usually flooded, so the owners decided to install gondolas to house the books, making them float safe from the water when it enters the interior of the premises.
In the backyard, which overlooks the canal, they have a staircase with books spoiled by water in past floods. It is practically unknown, and there were not many tourists. The Free Tour is coming to an end, but before our guide shows us the smallest island in the whole city. And we finish the visit in Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo, a large square that has the church of the same name and the hospital of the city, located in an old palace.
After giving our tip we went to the hotel to shower and change to go out to dinner. We were in Venice, so we were going to treat ourselves and dine at the restaurant. We went for a walk seeing places to dine, but our goal was to see the Piazza San Marco at dusk. It is beautiful at any time, but especially in the late afternoon.
We fled from the immediate vicinity of the square as the restaurants were expensive. Near the hotel we dined very well at a more than reasonable price to be at the center of Venice. I ordered a lamb tahini stew, pizza, spaghetti, all washed down with white wine. We were very pleased by a young waiter who came to charge us and who stayed talking with us, and that according to him it is a bad city because it only has two nightclubs.
After dinner we went to San Marco for a walk. Not that it is ugly at night, but the lighting is quite dim and leaves much to be desired. I got used to it in Budapest where everything is very bright and beautiful and I see that it is one of the few cities that treat night tourism in this way. Even so, the trip was very pleasant, a perfect culmination to an unforgettable day in this city that captivated us completely. And after this we went to the hotel.