“La Serenissima, Bride of the Sea”
My first time visiting Venice is a vague memory from my childhood. It was the late 80’s. We lived in Germany and road tripped around Europe over the summers. My family would usually camp; mixed with grilling, hiking, swimming and playing. In Italy one summer the local boys taught my sister and me that we could pull the tails off lizards and they would grow back. It was a simple time, when life was wholesome and the internet, though probably existed somewhere, had not yet impacted the general population.
Since then Venice has been a blur or smells, colors, emotions and sights; the Grand Canal, bridges and strange floating houses, beautiful masks decorated in colors and feathers, narrow sidewalks packed with tourists in fanny-packs, gondoliers in striped shirts, and lots of pizza. My mom has a set of tiny Venetian glass figurines like little cats and puppies and this purfect purple gondolier that, to this day, sits in her dining room hutch, or as we called it in German, “schrank.”
The idea of Venice has always been romantic to me and the perfect place to help end a long vacation road-tripping across Italy, Slovenia and Croatia. We had 3 days and did not want to pack in too much, we wanted to have more down time to enjoy the scenery, eat, drink and relax. Venice offers a plethora of things to do for couples and families including day tours to Murano, the colorful islands of Burano and Mazzorbo, or and a lengthy list of museums to tour, food tours, classes and events. We mostly walked around, took photos, people watched and drank a lot of espresso. These are our highlights!
Grand Canal is the largest canal in Venice and splits the city in half. Canals are the main routes for transportation in Venice, you can access the city using water taxis called Vaperratos and then get around either by personal watercraft or gondola. There are over 350 gondolas in the city. When arriving by car, park in the public parking area across the bay and catch a Vaperrato to Venice. Depending on where you are staying you will find the water bus to be easy and getting on and off very fun. A “Traghetto” is a ticket and you will need this to ride.
We stayed at the Hotel San Giorgio a centrally located private hotel tucked away at the end of a courtyard. Close by was plenty of options for food, coffee, and shopping! Be careful about buying something too soon, there are plenty of leather shops and glass/mask providers. “Vera Pelle” means “real leather” and is printed on everything. I personally liked the brand Hebella which is only available in Italy.
We stumbled upon a fantastic exhibit one night and came back the next day to the Contemporary Art at the Palazzo Grassi for an amazing Irving Penn Exhibit!
The Piazza San Marco is probably the most popular square in Venice, tourists and locals are around there all day long. Along the square are shops and restaurants. At night you’ll hear all sting quartets playing or dueling from either side. Along the perimeter is St. Mark’s Basilica encased in tiled Byzantine Mosaics. The Basilica was under construction while we were there but still beautiful!
Leonardo de Vinci, the great inventor, painter, sculptor and Jack of All Trades, spent many years in Venice and the city has a wonderful set of Museums dedicated to him, his life and his work. During the last 1400’s Leonardo was employed as an engineer and created a system of moveable barricades that helped protect Venice from external attacks. Several of his ‘contraptions’ and creations (replicas), design documents and studies of the human body are on display at the Monstra Leonardo Venezia.
We ate at several restaurants but the most memorable was the Acqua Pazza. We dined outside and ordered “the fish.” The waiter brought out the WHOLE fish to present to us prior to cooking. As my back was to the waiter, I nearly fell out of my chair i was so shocked and surprised when it was in front of us. We had a good laugh over that and enjoyed the evening people watching and enjoying our wine. (I’m pretty sure there was a Greg Kinnear-esque person next to us with his family. Not sure if that was really him but you never know!)
Though our trip was short it was a perfect refresher to my existing memories of the beautiful seaside floating city. You don’t need a Map in Venice! Just wander and explore. #Adventureonyall