One couldn’t say that they have seen most of Italy without having been to Venice. Though Italy is one of my favorite places to visit, Venice is one of those cities that I had yet to set foot in. Luckily, it was the same for J as well. As we contemplated where we would go during one of our big trips in 2018, we thought about several places including Switzerland, South of France, Spain and Italy. With our love of food, it wasn’t surprising that we ended up coming back the country known for its pasta, mozza, florentine steak and big Tuscan reds. Our first stop of that trip was here, the romantic city of Venice.
As always, after a long flight, you’re not feeling the cleanest or fresh but we welcomed the sun and the mid 20 degree weather. Our hotel was in the heart of old town Venice so it was going to be a bit tricky taking the water bus and changing routes in order to get there. It didn’t take too much convincing for us to opt instead for a much more convenient and scenic route - water taxi. They took us straight from the station directly to our hotel and we got to see Venice by canal right away. It gave us a glimpse of what we could expect over the 3 days. J was also very impressed with our driver - I was just happy to be on our way to the hotel!
We were instantly stunned at the beauty of this place. Much like other cities and villages in Italy, each have their own character and Venice was unlike any place that I have ever been. The canals that you so often hear about when one sees a reference to Venice were there in all its glory. The way the canals wrap around a corner, bordered on each side by beautifully aged residential buildings, varying in color from its years of existence, your senses couldn’t help but be drawn in. San Marco’s Basilica and the Piazza of course was amazing, albeit crowded, but the highlight was definitely walking around aimlessly, exploring all the canals and wandering through the neighborhoods.
Did you know that Venice has a lot of beautiful canals? No? Well obviously you knew about them if you want to go to Venice but are they really that pretty? Yes. Yes they are. This is only a small sample of photos but we couldn’t help but stop at each one, looking at the different angles and colors of the homes that curve around the bend. It is no wonder why such beautiful artwork exists of Venice when you have sights like this.
San Marco’s Basilica, piazza and bell tower
The Basilica and Piazza are at the heart of Venice. It is likely the landmark that all tourists gravitate towards and you really feel it when you get there. The Basilica is grand and the walls are so beautifully decorated and detailed. Often I am amazed at the amount of workmanship and the time that it must have took to build a structure that has stood the test of time. The Basilica is no different. This is a building that has been around for close to a thousand years! A stone’s through away from the Basilica is the Bell Tower. As with many bell towers in Europe, you do have the opportunity to climb up and get an overhead view. Beware, the walkway is very narrow so no big bags are allowed. The view was worth it! Though we didn’t want to stick around too long because of the crowds, but we did find ourselves walking through daily.
The lineup for this place is a bit crazy so I would suggest getting in first thing. You can buy tickets online ahead of time as well. Some beautiful work to admire and get away from the hot heat (depending on the time of year that you come). We are not crowd people so we did come to the palace first thing in the morning to take some photos. Luckily for me, J is a very willing subject. The artwork inside the palace is beautiful and worthwhile to walk through. We spent the better part of 3 hours here and it was well worth it. It is recommended to book your tickets ahead of time though - and arrive early, it gets very crowded.
Where we stayed in Venice
We stayed at the boutique hotel, Liassidi Wellness Suites for our 3 days. Tucked away in the Castello neighborhood of Venice, our hotel was not in the busiest parts of the city and we prefer that. Still, it was only a 10 minute walk to the Basilica San Marco. Super convenient location without it being too crowded or noisy so from a location perspective, we were very pleased. The room was also beautiful and modern (I loved the herringbone flooring) and very clean kept. Lots of natural light with ample window space and the bonus? Our window opened up to the canal below. The hotel also provided us with breakfast each morning and it was delicious. We would easily recommend this hotel to anyone planning a visit to Venice.
What we ate in Venice
Corte Sconta / So we don’t know if being delirious from lack of sleep had anything to do with it but this was in our minds, one of the best meals we had during our entire trip, from Venice, to Tuscany, to Florence. We sat outside in their private courtyard. Looking up, there was a combination of branches and leaves, intertwining with the dim, warm glow of sparingly used lights. J had the squid ink seafood pasta while I had the freshly made gnocchi with pistacchio. Both were equally delicious but I have to say that J’s dish was one of the best seafood pastas that I have ever had. To think… we almost decided to ditch our reservation to go back and sleep! Teaches us a lesson - always food over sleep.
Al Covo / The second evening, we ate at Al Covo. I remember this space being very tastefully decorated and it was also very warm and comfortable. This is likely the reason why I almost fell asleep due to jet lag and did not take any pictures. Not as good as Corte Scanta on our view but it was a delicious meal nonetheless.
Venice is as beautiful as the post cards convey. Much like so much of Europe and Italy in particular, the city is well preserved and it retains its charm not only from its physical beauty but the feeling you get when you walk around town. The canals are beautiful but that’s not why you should visit. If that is the only reason you come to Venice then you are really missing the point. The history, the architecture, the winding roads that easily confuse but also leave you feeling as if you are right at home, that’s what we came to know Venice as during our short stay. We went in hoping that this was more than just a touristy city and we left knowing it wasn’t. Needless to say, we would love to come back. As the first city we visited on our 2018 Italy trip, we were off to a great start.