Out of all the Italian cities, Venice was definitely my favorite.
Perhaps it was because it was so different than anything I had ever seen before, streets of water, the colorful but old architecture made it timeless. It was touristy of course, but somehow I didn’t mind. Because all it took was turning off your GPS, getting lost, and finding yourself on the back streets where you lost the din and bustle of the tourists and walked where the locals lived.
We had heard so many mixed reviews of Venice before we left for our trip, so it was a possibility that it had been undersold to me and my expectations were so low that also made the experience that much richer.
We spent two days in Venice which of course wasn’t enough, but we packed so much in definitely felt like we got a great taste of the city. Our first day we jumped off the train and soaked in our first view of the city. It was almost funny to see a modern train station smack in the middle of such ancient grandeur.
We worked through a few hiccups with our phone service to get our GPS settled while working our way through chattering people and narrow streets to the heart of the city and Saint Marcos Square. Even by early AM we didn’t beat the crowds, but the size was remarkable with the view of the Basilica and Doge’s Palace.
The lines for the Basilica were so long, we decided to forgo it and just take in everything outside and maybe move our tour for the next day when we could arrive earlier. I absolutely loved all the gondola docks around town, it looked like something out of a storybook.
Our next big stop was the Rialto Bridge, which wasn’t near St. Marcos so it required quite a bit of walking, a few wrong turns into water street dead ends, and lots of peeking in the most adorable shops along the way.
My favorite view in Venice.
After lunch, we just got lost, took so many pictures and almost wore our shoes out. We also did an impromptu little photoshoot in a quiet courtyard.
Even though it was tempting to take pictures of just architecture, I also wanted to snap photos of daily life in Italy. The locals shopping at the markets for their fresh produce, shop owners watering their flowers to sell, they are quite possibly my favorite photos, a picture of how life is lived so differently and beautifully.
And of course, allll the gelato.
The streets calmed down as the sun began to lower in the sky, and the town bell chimed. It was enchanting.
We picked our dinner spot right on the canal, and enjoyed incredible calzones and had our first experience of lemoncello which was heavenly. We learned how Italians waiters will not bring you your bill until you ask for it so as to let you enjoy a leisurely dinner experience without feeling rushed. We sat shivering while the sun set with glorious colors not realizing this was the norm. By the time we had finished the last of our lemoncello we were throughly cold and went off in search of a jacket for Luke from the tourist shops.
Venice at night is one of those once in a lifetime experiences you have that you never want to end. If it hadn’t been for the chilly night air and my sore feet, we would’ve stayed so much later to enjoy it even more. One of my regrets is that our AirB&B wasn’t IN Venice, so we missed a lot of the experience because of the train ride back to our room.
The next day, our high expectations of getting to Venice early didn’t happen. The exhaustion from the day before was real, so we just slept in and made it back to the city when we were well rested and refreshed for another day of exploring. The most awesome candy shop we had ever stepped foot in was our first stop.
Our day two was more of a shopping day, popping into the locals shops. Each one was uniquely different and the artisans within had a style and taste all their own. Even if there were several shops that sold the same merchandise, there was hardly competition because each shop was unique in it’s own way.
Before lunch it was back to Saint Marco’s to look around more, the Basilica line was long again so we decided it wasn’t worth the wait. Walking around the square listening to the live music and getting a few treats was our pick of choice. The Florian was a 1700’s Cafe that Charles Dickens visited at one point, and had so much historical charm.
Libreria Acqua Alta was a cozy bookshop tucked far into the quiet streets of Venice, but is well known for the large gondola in it’s center carrying all types of Italian titles.
Our last event of the day was finally biting the bullet of paying 80 euro for a gondola ride. It was worth every bit of it. Getting off the streets (getting to sit down for a change) and taking in the quiet water-filled canal was an experience I’ll never forget.
We tired out much quicker on our second day, so after paying our gondolier we literally wobbled on tired and blistered feet back to the train station and waved goodbye to Venezia. It made such an impression on me, and I’ll never forget the experience. If you ever have the opportunity to go, please go book your ticket.
Stay tuned, we’ll visit Verona next.
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