Venice: The Story Book City
Venice is a dream! People have talked about Venice and raved about its beauty and, while I’ve seen several photos, even those that were edited to show supreme beauty, I was never really drawn to go. My travelling companions sold me on it so I decided to go and meet up with them after Florence. (That didn’t end up happening because of crazy events that happened to them causing them to be stuck in Treviso but that’s not my story to tell).
After grudgingly boarding the train and finding my seat in the executive carriage, still unsure how I got there, from Florence to Venice, I was excited for my next adventure. Traveling by train in Italy is so satisfying. If you are a fan of greenery you will see plenty as you barrel through the lush countryside of Italy. When I arrived at Venezia Santa Lucia Railway Station and get off you are immediately on the island and will understand straightway what everyone was talking about. I wanted to explore right away but because my room was on the mainland, I needed to ditch my luggage and rest before taking it all in.
Venice, known as the “the floating city”, “city of canals”, 'city of water', and several other names is probably one of the most beautiful places on earth. As I am writing this I am realizing describing why Venice is so amazing is incredibly difficult because everything about it is amazing, but I will try my best. When you are walking through the streets, especially on the on less busy southern side of the island, it’s like you are walking through streets of a fairy tale. Each street has a charm about it that is truly romantic and mysterious at the same time. There are tons of shops and restaurants that line the streets as well. As you walk through the city and see the many gondolas and taxi boats cruising through the canal, you will have true culture shock because this is how people get around there! Let that sink in a bit. The architecture is also breath taking! Saint Mark’s Basilica is one of the most stunning cathedrals I have ever seen in my life; it looks more like a castle.
Where to Eat?
Once again, I did not really take advantage of all the food options on the island while I was there. Venice is surrounded by water so naturally it is a big seafood town and as I am not a seafood eater, I was not at home there. However, I have been told that the food there is amazing if that is what you are into. I happened to get some pizza at a spot on the mainland at Piazza Candiani that was pretty tasty and I grabbed a sandwich at one of the many cafés that line the twisting alleyways in Venice.
Where to Stay?
I stayed in Mestre, the mainland part of Venice, in a cute Air BnB. I am hesitant to suggest staying there because of incidents that happened while I was there. While it was comfortable enough and the host was accommodating, there were things that I wouldn’t want you to deal with so if you are curious and want the link, shoot me an email, and I will share. Staying in Mestre is cheaper and will give you a different perspective that isn’t so touristy. There are really good options for food and shopping at Piazza Candiani which is easily accessible by bus or tram.
I was lucky enough to meet very nice Air BnB host that has a place right on the water that I would have definitely stayed at had I known about it before hand. Guiliamo runs two different listings and they are so pretty and after getting a tour of Italy and sharing a spritz and aperitive by the grand canal, I can assure you he will be a great host. You can find his listings here and here!
What to do!
Just walk! I honestly think that is the best way to experience Venice. Depending on the time of the year you go, Venice can be very humid so you need to prepare for that if you are walking around. You should also invest in the ferry passes depending on your time there as they are a good way of getting around without having to walk so much. Keep in mind, the cost of transportation via boat is pretty high, a one day pass is 20 Euro and 60 Euro for a seven day pass. I would suggest definitely getting to Rialto earlier on because it will get busy throughout the day because of the shopping and amazing Instagram spots. You can find the very popular art installation called “Support” in that area. If you don’t know the name you will know it as the giant hands that appear to be supporting a building from falling into the canal. Also, like any other Italian city, you must get some gelato for one of the many gelaterias in Venice.
If time is something you are worried about, I personally did not need more than 2-3 days in Venice. It's really amazing and I would love to go back and just sit and people watch along the canals with a spritz, but you can get a really nice feel for the city in a short period of time. Make sure you camera is ready, as every street is a photo op!