I visited Florence with my father when I was younger for a football match and was eager to return to experience some more Italian culture.
Kevin had never visited Italy before, so we decided on a trip to beautiful Venice.
After touching down in Marco Polo airport, we took the vaporetto (a water boat) to San Marco. This took just over an hour as the boat made several stops along the way. It was a great introduction to the city and being able to see different islands in the Venetian Lagoon made us appreciate just how remarkable this city was.
We decided to stay in a B&B called Palazzo Minelli, it was a rustic and authentic Venetian looking building with plenty of character just a very short walk from St. Mark’s Square. The host of the B&B met us at our vaporetto stop to take us to our accommodation. We were extremely thankful for this because Venice is literally a maze of streets. It’s nice to get lost in Venice… but not while you are lugging around cases on a roasting hot June day.
After we had settled into our accommodation we decided to head out for a wander and try and find our bearings…haha! Not much chance of that happening, even after our 5 days we were still getting lost. We sampled our first Italian food, ordering the most cliche items, pizza and gelato. But hey, they didn’t disappoint. Then we ended the evening walking around St. Mark’s Square listening to the live music.
Our first full day.. and time to start our adventure properly. We began the morning enjoying some Venetian coffee in a small square, before heading off to do a walking tour. We opted for the Free Walking Tour of Venice, this gave us a great overview of the San Marco area of Venice. This included lots of facts about the city as well as tips for finding our way around, and local food & drinks. The tour also took us past a workshop making gondolas, we learnt the cost of manufacturing and that being a gondolier is a tightly controlled trade in Venice and you can only obtain a license if it is passed down the generations.
Later we visited the Doge’s Palace where we were amazed at the grand interior of the palace and also learnt the interesting history of Venice’s past rulers. We were also able to get a different perspective of the Bridge of Sighs .. by walking right through it. This was the bridge that Venetian prisoners would walk through before entering prison. It enabled them to have one last look at the city and it would be at this point they let out a sigh.
The next day was spent exploring other Islands in the Lagoon, other than San Marco. We did this by purchasing a day ticket for the Vaperetto, which enabled us to hop on and off when we pleased.
The first stop was the island of Murano, which is famous all around the world for its glass making, a tradition that has been taking place here for centuries. We spent time here wandering around admiring the beautiful glass work and visiting some of the factories on the island.
Next we decided to visit Isola di San Michele. This is an entire island in the lagoon, that consists of a cemetery and a church. Not that many tourists visit this island but we thought it would give us a deeper understanding of Venice and what it means for the locals. It was a very peaceful and unique place to visit, we were glad we went to pay our respects.
We visited the island of Burano next, it’s specialty is in lace making. However, we were disappointed to discover that most of the lace found on the island is now imported from Asia. Burano is a very bright and vibrant island, the houses and buildings are all different colours making it a fun place to spend a few hours.
After lunch we headed to our final stop, Torcello. This is a very charming and much quieter island. It the oldest area of Venice and also is home to the oldest building in Venice the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.
We were so glad that we took the day to visit the lesser known, and less busy, Venetian Islands, that were completely different to San Marco and to each other. It gave us a greater feel of where some of the locals stay and work.
We had a very early start the next day because we were hopping on the train to Verona. Kevin decided to book the train for around 7AM even though the journey only takes an hour and a half! What was he thinking?? Anyway the early start paid off as we managed to get a photo on the Rialto Bridge with no one else in it. Usually this bridge is utterly swamped with tourists, so it made it all worth it.
We have a separate page for Verona because we did pack quite a lot in.
We didn’t actually have anything planned our our last day in Venice but we managed to squeeze in all the other sights that we wanted to see. We started the day off in true Venetian style, doing the most touristy thing possible, (which we usually tend to avoid) going on a gondola.. You can’t go to Venice and not have a ride on one, right?
Afterwards we visited the Venetian Ghetto. The area in which Jews were compelled to live under the Venetian Republic. It is a very interesting and important area of the city and one I definitely recommend visiting. We also visited Caravaggio which is close by, it has a calmer and more authentic feel than the bustling streets in San Marco.
After this we headed to San Marco Campanile, a bell tower, to get a view over the city. The queue was surprisingly short when we arrived, although it would have been worth a long wait because the view is stunning. Following this we crossed the square to Saint Mark’s Basilica, again there was barely a queue and we were inside in no time. The architecture both in and outside is a work of art. The interior is extremely opulent and not to be missed.
We then managed to visit one last place of interest, Teatro La Fenice. Completed in 1792, it is one of “the most famous and renowned landmarks in the history of Italian theatre”. We took the audio guide tour around the theatre and it was fascinating to learn about the history and how it was rebuilt following a fire which destroyed the whole building in 1992.
Our sightseeing was now finished, we headed out for one last meal before we headed home early the next morning. Ciao Venezia.