Venice: Travel The City of Water and Light
Venice is the one that is always full of tourists. It is the one of the canals with its gondoliers telling stories. It is the one of the couples of lovers and the one of the lovers of the art. It is the one of the expensive hotels and the rich ice cream, the of the bridges and of the blue color. Who has not dreamed of visiting Venice?
I, like so many others, had also wanted to walk through its streets and, finally, I spent two days there. Venice is undoubtedly the most photographed city in the world. It is a unique place to which one should go at least once in a lifetime.
Venice is like eating a whole box of liquor chocolates in one go. Perhaps because there are too many marvelous marriages tied together in the Venetian lagoon. While others are instantly infected with Stendhal syndrome or, what is the same, an unspeakable aesthetic enjoyment that even produces vertigo. Anyway, this city represents something like a song to perishable life. She is a beauty with wrinkles that clings to her glorious past. And it does not matter how many times you get to her who always leaves you wanting for more.
While visiting the city of Venice, a lot more than twenty years ago, there was no Internet, no cell phone, and no digital cameras. We arrived with what the travel guides informed us and word of mouth. When I get off the train and see it first time, that memory and image was recorded in me. I closed my eyes and I thought, that this was a city to come in pairs, as a couple.
I felt totally romantic and not alone like me. I was then again in Venice about ten years ago, and I was so impressed that I had to come back and enjoy it in its entirety. It's the third time I've been on the Venetian floor and every time I do it, I'm more in love with this beautiful Italian city.
So after returning from a trip to Venice in search of an inexplicable love, I would like to put at your disposal in this blog practical tips to travel to Venice that will help to plan a route as complete as possible through the city of the canals.
No doubt the first thing you should do is carry a paper map (even if you have an app on your mobile) and then mark in this the location of your accommodation and the main points of interest. Why do I say this? Mainly because of the inconvenience that can result crossing the Grand Canal, if you are on the other side.
The idea was to go from Lido degli Estensi to Venice, return to the apartment and return the next day. We put our hands on the Internet. We booked a hotel and that's it.
24 Hours in Venice
We arrived in Venice on the High Speed Train coming from Florence. We got off at the Venice Mestre Station, and took the bus that left us at the door of the hotel. Our room was very spacious, decorated in a classic but tasteful way. Once settled on the room, we take a shower and we went for a walk around Venice. We choose, for our visit, a hot day. Many people talking in all the languages of this crazy world welcomes us.
We walked through narrow streets. We crossed small, medium and large bridges. We took a giant ice cream and we arrived at the St Mark's Square following the trail of all the millions of tourists that day that crowded the city. The whole square was a hotbed of tourists, many in large groups coming from cruise ships. We have rarely seen so many per square meter.
In the background rises the Saint Mark's Basilica, which at first sight seems small in comparison with the grandeur of the square and the Campanile, its tall bell tower. But it is equally spectacular, with a curious mix of Western and Byzantine architecture.
The day was splendid and the pigeons did not stop playing. We went to see one of the few bridges that crosses the Grand Canal. From there we had one of the first views of the Grand Canal, which we thought was fabulous. It was surrounded by beautiful palaces and was filled with all kinds of boats like vaporetti and gondolas.
One of the most fun experiences of my tour was to visit the Rialto Market, located right next to the famous bridge, and which I arrived by vaporetto. I took ice cream again, took hundreds of photos, and enjoyed the views and a good meal by the Rialto bridge, while the gondoliers came and went and the occasional seagull perched on the wooden poles, to rest.
We see the lively movement between buyers and sellers, while enjoying a romantic live music. In addition, I activated my window shopping mode with all the, typically Italian gastronomic products on display. I have not seen a fish with such good looks for a long time! We decided to take a break to eat in one of the traditional simple restaurants with homemade Italian food.
In starter we have a very good stuffed eggplant. We also order spaghetti. For dessert we shared a good panna cotta. The truth is that we left very satisfied with that restaurant. We enjoyed the Italian lunch next to one of the canals, where the passing coquettish gondoliers sang O Sole Mio happily to their tourists!
What can be said about Venice that has not already been said. One is nothing original if you think that Venice every week, gets up very early with the first light of dawn.
Everything that is shown to us in magazines and films has nothing to do with being able to admire, at first hand. There are the canals, the buildings, the restaurants, the meals, and the bustle. There are the giggles of those who go on a gondola, crossing small bridges. People stop to look at them as if they were something extraordinary. And it must be, because who goes in a gondola? It is the visitor, of course. I cannot imagine too many Venetians going to do their shopping in the gondola.
The day flew by among channels, although we were not gulls. In the afternoon, as the weather man had predicted, it started to rain, with thunder included. The queues disappeared and the streets were filled with umbrellas. All opened their umbrellas, except for us that we did not have, nor wanted to buy. So there was the road next to us getting wet, because no matter how much we ran, the clouds ran much faster, and we were half an hour away from the car.
I ran to the hotel to change. The boat ride again from the hotel to the Piazza San Marco coincided with the sunset. It was a movie moment! Venice at night also has great charm and, above all, is romantic. And at night everything is transformed again. The channels reflect the lights of the terraces and buildings. Any corner acquires a romantic tone worthy of a movie.
Obviously, the day has to end on a terrace at the foot of the Grand Canal under the light of the lanterns. After dinner, I return to St. Mark's Square. If this square is already spectacular during the day, at night it becomes the largest ballroom in Europe.
Many orchestras gather around the square. At the end of a musical piece performed by the orchestras (sometimes they are quartets), the next local begins to play its first melodies and so on until infinity. The music flies throughout the square giving it a festive and cheerful atmosphere. A really beautiful experience. I Sit down, and listen to the musicians in front of the classic cafes.
In addition, being able to attend a fantastic concert inside a Venetian palace organized in Musica A Palazzo, was the icing on the cake for the night to be perfect!
The hotel was on the outskirts of the city and with that curtain of water, and being night, it was difficult to see where we were going. So thanks to the GPS, which behaved like a jab, we arrived at the hotel and there we finished our visit to Venice for that day.
48 Hours in Venice
We started the day with a good breakfast that was served by the owner of the B&B in our room. We had hot drinks, sweet pastries and a ham and cheese sandwich. With a full stomach we set out to discover Venice.
Finally we reach Piazza San Marco, the epicenter of the city, surrounded by some of the most important monuments. On the east side of the Piazzetta stands another of Venice's famous buildings, the Palazzo Ducale. To enter we stand in a queue for 15-20 minutes. As soon as we entered, we found ourselves in the interior patio of the palace.
The Porta della Carta stood out for its spectacular, and monumental Gothic doorway that served as the main entrance. The interior is full of richly decorated rooms, full of works of art by Tintoretto, Bellini, and El Bosco. From the Doge's Palace, a passage leads to the Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri). It is so named because on the bridge there are gaps through which the prisoners could see the city's canals for the last time before losing their freedom.
We leave St Mark's Square for the Mercerias, a set of streets that form one of the main commercial axes of the city. There were many shops and stores there, although most of them were tourist oriented. But we were more interested in walking through the perpendicular streets, which hid small channels full of charm. Precisely on the edge of a beautiful canal we take advantage of a short break eating a good pizza.
After lunch we went for a gondola ride and it was a joy to see the city from the water - with sun and with some heat, but neither mattered a lot. It was my last day in Venice. We disembark at the San Marcuola station, near the end of the line, in the Cannaregio district. This neighborhood became, in the end, one of our favorites of Venice, as it has beautiful streets and canals and is not overcrowded by tourism.
There we can see everyday scenes of Venetians doing their daily shopping or their chores that are impossible to see in other parts of the city. We started the walk through a wide avenue full of life and shops. Although there were some souvenir shops, the atmosphere in general was quite authentic. I got lost several times because the maps with so many alleys sometimes do not match the streets.
Then we left behind the bustle to get into the Jewish Ghetto. There are bakeries with cakes and breads, Jewish premises, stores with souvenirs and some synagogue. Otherwise it is a normal neighborhood. By the way, the Venetian girls are beautiful. What's strange is that many wore glasses (it must be to see so much beauty). We continue walking towards the north of the Ghetto, where one of the most suggestive areas of Cannaregio extends.
There are a series of beautiful canals flanked by charming houses, and streets to walk and enjoy both. The atmosphere was very quiet, with some shops here and there, with people navigating the canals with their boats. There was no sign of souvenir shops or gondolas there. Walking through those streets we thought that Venice should be like this before the arrival of mass tourism.
We reach the Fondamente Nove station, where the vaporetti leave for the different islands north of Venice. Our main objective was that of Burano. The boat was not very full, so we could sit on the aft terrace. It made a stop on the island of Murano, where a crowd of people climbed. We thought we would go around Murano on the way back, which in the end was a great success, as we did not have to suffer so many agglomerations.
After about 45 minutes of travel in total, we arrived at the island of Burano. We start walking aimlessly and marvel at the colorful houses that make this island so famous. Its origin is not clear. It is said that the locals had to paint their brightly colored houses to be able to distinguish them among the fog that is so frequent in this area.
We followed a good time walking through its quiet streets and the painted houses marveled us at every step. The most touristy areas of Burano are the streets that run through its three channels. There we found hordes of tourists and souvenir shops at every corner, many selling lace, the local artisan specialty.
Even so, the colorful houses and the canals formed a picture postcard. The truth is that Burano is very photogenic. Every little house or every bend in the canal lent itself to a new photo. We had seen pictures of the place, but its beauty fulfilled our expectations.
At the end we spent an hour and a half walking around the island (although it must be said that it is small). Before going to another vaporetto we bought a Sandwich and a frittura mista (fry of various types of fish and seafood) to eat on the trip.
It took us about half an hour to get to Murano. It is known worldwide for its glass crafts. We preferred to walk around the island. The streets and canals of Murano itself are very similar to those of Venice but less charming. There is even a Grand Canal that runs through the island, but is light years away from its older sister. In many places on the island abandoned glass factories abound, following the mass influx of Chinese glass (which in fact is sold in many shops in Murano).
The visit to Murano left us indifferent. We thought a little more of the same compared to Venice. We took a boat to get off at the Celestia stop and visit the Castello neighborhood. We reached the southern part of Castello and board a new vaporetto to Dorsoduro. Then we arrive at the Accademia, where there is the bridge to cross to the other side of the Grand Canal.
Instead of using the bridge, we looked for an alternative system to cross that we really wanted to experience in the traghetto. People consider it a low-cost alternative to expensive gondola rides. The problem is that the journey lasts a couple of minutes. The pity is that it is a service that only operates until 6pm, so when we arrived it was too late.
We had no choice but to cross the Accademia bridge to return to our accommodation, where we rest for a while. After showering and resting for a while at the B&B we went out to dinner. As we were very tired after being all day walking, we decided to look for a place nearby. In the end we ended up in the a place that attracted us for its simple unpretentious restaurant atmosphere.
From starter, we ordered antipasto of sausage and cheeses, which was good although the only representative of the cheese was a sad mozzarella. Then we ordered a lasagna and some Spaghetti alle vongole, also quite good. For dessert we ordered a tiramisu. It was almost the best of dinner. Our drink was a spritz (a drink with alcohol that the Italians love at the time of the aperitif) and half a glass of red wine.
We had one day to leave the place and head for Tuscany.
To know if I will return some day to Venice, although I still think that the ideal would be to return, be there a few days and see everything that could not be seen previously in the city, either because there was little time, or because there were too many people.