The second-last leg of my European journey found us travelling from sunny Barcelona, landing in not-so-sunny Venezia, Italy.
Flying over Venice was an experience in itself, as we were treated with a birds-eye view of the many canals running through the islands. It felt completely surreal and unlike anywhere I had seen before.
Once we landed at the airport, we had to find our way to San Marco. As the airport is located on the mainland, we needed to catch a ferry (vasporetto) across to the San Marco district. The ferry ride took approximately 90 minutes but time seemed to pass by quite quickly as we were just enjoying the adventure of travelling and soaking up as much of the moment as possible.
Once we got to San Marco, we located our bed and breakfast which was about a 10 minute walk from where we were dropped off. Once we checked and settled in (and dried off, as a bit of our stuff had gotten wet from the rain), we headed out, bought a couple of umbrellas (as it was still heavily raining) and set out to explore the area of San Marco.
In an hour or two, it started to get dark and there were hardly any people out – I swear, it looked like a ghost town! We explored the Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square) and peered inside the St. Mark’s Basilica, admiring the mosaic detail all throughout. Our stomachs were grumbling after a long journey, so we found a trattoria and devoured some pizza and pasta for our first meal on Italian soil.
We spent our first full day in Venice simply exploring the sestieres (municipalities) by foot covering San Marco, San Polo, Castello and Santa Croce. We visited the San Rocco church, which had free admission and admired the artworks depicting a story of St. Roch.
As Venice is quite small in size, we ended up covering a fair bit of ground in a single day, and to be totally honest, I would have been completely happy to leave the next day. We weren’t even sure what we’d do the following day as we had covered so much, so we decided to book a tour of the Doge’s Palace.
We started off our last day in Venice by grabbing a bite to eat (a panini and a coffee, no less) before heading on our tour of the Doge’s Palace. Now, I’m not one that usually likes to go on tours (I’d prefer to stick to the unbeaten path), but being part of the tour was great for a couple of reasons:
- We were able to skip the lines and head straight in (which is a huge deal if you had seen how long the lines had gotten); and
- We were able to learn so much in such little time from our guide; information that we would have never even know about certain artworks and the significance of certain areas/rooms of the palace
We also upgraded our tour to include a walk-through of the prison in the Doge’s Palace (yes, the Doge lived near criminals!) and this was actually the prison that the infamous Casanova had broken out of and apparently, escaped on a gondola. Whether or not these events actually happened, we’ll never know – all we have to go by is Casanova’s own writings in Story of My Flight!
After our tour, we decided to take our last afternoon pretty easy (as we had rushed and tried to see everything the previous day, we felt way less pressure) by kicking back, enjoy the clear weather (so thankful it cleared up!), some good food and of course, good gelato.
Where we stayed: Locanda Antica Venezia in San Marco, the location of this bed and breakfast was very convenient – a 5 minute walk to San Marco Piazza
Must-Eats: Gelato from Suso Gelato – the pistachio flavour with pistachio cream on top and nutella with nutella cream on top was to die for! I can safely say that it was the best gelato I had ever eaten – yes, even better than Messina.
Must-Sees: San Marco Piazza is great as you can see three of the major sights in one day – the Bell Tower, the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica. I only went inside one of these sights – the Doge’s Palace, just because we had already seen many churches at the stage of our trip and thought the palace would be something different (and it was!).
What I loved: I loved Venice at night. It was much too packed and busy for my liking during the day, but at night, all these people would disappear and I would wonder – where do they all go!? Walk the city at night, it’s absolutely beautiful.
What I didn’t quite love: The souvenir shops – every second store seemed to sell either Murano glass or Venetian masks. These stores were closed at night time, which probably attributes to why I prefer Venice at night.
Have you been to Venice? What were the highlights of your trip?