17 June 2013

Beautiful Venice

Venice. Home to Veronica Franco, Venice's most famous 16th Century Courtesan. Not the first image it conjures in most peoples minds. To most, its the canals, the Rialto bridge, the Gondoleri, the Grand Canal, San Marco Square. It is all of these things and for every person who has been there, it is a fond memory and for those who haven't, it holds a dream. But, in the evening, when the city is shrouded in darkness and the glimmer of opulent canal-side houses is reflected from the windows, i can almost see Veronica's 16th Century city.

Santa Maria della Salute at night

“Do you know what my daughter's nurse told her today? "In a girl's voice lies temptation - a known fact. Eloquence in a woman means promiscuity. Promiscuity of the mind leads to promiscuity of the body." She doesn't believe it yet, but she will. She'll grow up just like her mother. Marry, raise children and honor her family. Spend her youth in needlepoint and rue the day she was born a girl. And when she dies, she'll wonder why she obeyed all the rules of God and Country for no biblical hell could ever be worse than a state of perpetual inconsequence. ” 

The Rialto Bridge at night

I was in Venice for 3 nights. It wasn't very warm and it even rained but i still enjoyed it immensely. I loved walking the labyrinthian streets, travelling up the Grand Canal on a Vaperetto, stumbling upon a local square with its closed up old wells and outdoor cafes. I loved popping into the Venetian mask and costume shops, admiring the details of the hand made finish to each unique mask, the polished buttons on the mens costumes and the swathes of fabric for the female ones. I miss my local cafe with the amazing coffee and Breseola sandwich that was super cheap. Even paying a small fortune to sit at a canal-side cafe with a view of the Rialto Bridge was worth it, tiny meal portions because we weren't rushed by the waiters...sit, stay, relax and soak up the moment - you are in Venice.

View from the Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal

The highlight for me was the mask making course at a genuine workshop. I could choose the shape of mask i wanted, learn the methods used to paint and finish it, and, best of all, i got to keep it. My very own Venetian mask.

Striking a pose with my mask - its ok you can laugh ;)
The most romantic thing - for me anyway - was standing at the back of a vaporetto as it cruised down the Grand Canal in the evening when all the lights were on and you could catch a glimpse of the inside of some the grand houses and hotels that lined the canal. Aside from the noise of the vaporetto itself, everything else was still and quiet.

San Marco Plaza at twilight

San Marco Plaza from the canal

Factoid -  did you know that the there was a time when Venetian law required that all prostitutes show their breasts? It was believed that this would discourage homosexuality that was rife through the city.

Arsenale and the nearby piazza

On to the practical stuff, Venice travel tips...

Getting around Venice:
I flew Monarch Airways from London Gatwick to Venice Marco Polo.
To reach Venice i opted for a bus from the airport to Plaza Roma where traffic ends. You can buy tickets for the bus from the arrivals baggage hall, near the bus stands or from the bus driver. You can also buy tickets for the Alilaguna which goes directly from the airport to Venice without the need to change at Plaza Roma. It costs a bit more but it can be worth it.
From Plaza Roma i took a vaporetto to the stop nearest to my accommodation.

Venice and a Gondolieri
A word on the vaporetto - you can buy passes that give you unlimited use of the vaperetto so you can go up and down the Grand Canal as many times as you like, even take a trip to Murano or Burano. Be warned, the vaporetto and the floating platforms are in love and often kiss passionately when they meet - so if you hear the grinding of the ferry on the platform, don't be alarmed, its all amore ;)
Vaporetto ticket options and prices can be found

Venice and a trusty Vaporetto
In theory you can walk everywhere in Venice, you don't need to take the vaporetto, but that's a lot of walking and stairs...not the best if you are lugging a suitcase around.

Venetian Gondolas pretty and blue and all in a row
I stayed in a serviced apartment that can sleep up to 5 people, this is a great option if you want a more local feel, are travelling with friends and want a "cheap" option or are a family.

Cruising the canals of Venice
Lets face it, most of the food has to be brought in and Venice is a tourist hotspot so prices are not cheap. But it definitely is possible to find good places to eat that are reasonable - ask your concierge for recommendations and steer clear of places on the Grand Canal except as an indulgent treat.
You can also find small supermarkets on the island if you prefer not to eat out. Buying a takeaway sandwich from a cafe is also a cheap lunch option.

Atmospheric dinner canal-side
If Venice is a place you have on your travel list, you wont be disappointed. If you have already been, leave me a comment and tell me, what was the highlight for you?



  1. I went to Venice in July 2013, it was sweltering hot, the maze-like streets got us very lost but we did find a beautiful restaurant for lunch. My favourite part was going to a glass making workshop and seeing the Venetian glass blowing in action.

    1. Hi Rachael, thanks for stopping by! The maze of streets does take getting used to. Where did you go for the glass blowing? Murano? I wanted to go there but ran out of time.