Cruise Through Awesome Architecture, Vacation in Venice!
Plan an extraordinary and unique vacation in Venice, Italy! This is one trip that should definitely be on your bucket list. One of the most fascinating things about travel is the ability to see the difference in environment and cultures. In Venice, you’ll witness a unique way of living and truly be enamored by the beauty of this incredible city.
Our first visit, on a day trip from Tuscany, the weather was cloudy with a consistent light drizzle and the city had a somber feel. Needless to say, although I enjoyed it immensely, I wasn’t feeling the full love of Venice the first time around…. Our second visit capped the end of an amazing Mediterranean cruise. It was bright and sunny and there was an air of romance in Venice.
As if on a movie set, tourists boarded the steady stream of gleaming black gondolas. The outdoor restaurants overflowed with smiling patrons sharing wine, tapas and lively discussions of the city. Sightseers scrambled about with their cameras clicking away, taking in all the awesome architecture and beauty this city has to offer! To sum it up, it’s what I imagined and was so worth it to give it a second chance. Stay a few days and watch your love grow!
It’s a small city, about twice the size of Central Park in NY. There are bridges throughout and you can walk the majority of Venice, but to truly see it all, including the scenic canals and outlying islands, you’ll need to enlist the help of some type of watercraft, whether a vaporetto (water bus), personal water taxi or a tour boat.
What’s To See
First on the ‘to do’ list includes a visit to the infamous St. Mark’s Square! Get there early before the crowds. There’s a sandwich shop right out on the waterfront. Truth be told, the food is not great, so if you can hold out for someplace else it’s a good idea. I didn’t find a pizza or gelato place that wasn’t awesome! Beware, some of the restaurants are ridiculously expensive. Take a minute to look at the menu, as well as prices.
St. Mark’s Basilica has some incredible mosaic work, but the lines are really long. To see the interior, try the ‘Walks of Italy’ tour to get an after hours tour away from the crowds. Right in the same area is the Doge’s Palace where you can revel in the vast artwork of the public areas or pass over the Bridge of Sighs on your way to visit the New Prison. You’ll likely see many ‘lovers’ in gondolas kissing under the Bridge of Sighs. Legend has it that kissing under the Bridge of Sighs will grant you eternal love!
Walk the beautiful Rialto Bridge, lined with its tiny shops. Whether inside or out, the bridge itself is a wonder to behold. It’s considered an architectural icon and worth taking the time to stroll through. This bridge is composed of many stairs, so it would be difficult with a wheelchair or stroller.
If you’re into art, you’ll want to visit the Church of San Sebastiano, dedicated to Venetian artists. The majority of the work was done by Paola Veronese in the 1500’s. It’s outstanding.
The islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello are right in the lagoon. If you have the time, explore them. Murano is the largest of the three islands and is home to the Murano Glass Manufacturers. Save room in your suitcase for some authentic Murano glass!
And of Course, The Gondolas…
Ultimately, most visitors to Venice will take a gondola ride during their stay. Gondolas first came about in Venice in the year 1094 so this is an old profession. Venice and Gondolas are almost synonymous. The aptly suited gondoliers put on a show of sorts to vie for your attention. Not all are singers, so if that’s the experience you’re looking for, choose your guide carefully.
Here’s an interesting side note about the gondoliers: There are only about 425 licensed gondoliers at any given time. The licenses are hard to come by… Only about 3-4 new licenses are given per year and the gondolier must pass rigorous training and testing. If a licensed gondolier dies, the license is passed down through the family. This is a much sought after appointment and considered a high paying job for Venetians!
If you prefer to travel by foot, plan an extra hour to get to your destination! You’ll have to cross over many foot bridges linking the tiny islands that Venice is composed of. Good luck finding the names to the streets anywhere… the tourist maps don’t help much either. We were so lost I approached a local for help, he laughed and with a big smile, said. “This. This is Venice!” (Seems if you’re not lost, you’re not in Venice). Thankfully, it’s a great place to meander through the back streets, wondering at the hidden charms of the city. While you may not find what you set out looking for, you’ll find something wonderful none-the-less. Since this if often the case, if you’re in a rush for dinner reservations or a show, a water taxi is a good idea.
The shops are pretty funky, the pizza places fabulous, the gelato ‘to-die-for’! You won’t need anything else to enjoy an amazing vacation in Venice! Don’t worry, you’ll eventually come across your hotel again. Have some fun along the way!
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