The City of Bridges
Ahhh, Italia. Italy is the land of delicious pasta and unlimited wine. The land of sexy accents and sexier men. The land of beauty, with colorful villages and endless vineyards. I have always wanted to visit and now I want to live here for at least a few years. Italy has been at the top of my list since I started making lists.
This was my first time in Italy! I met my parents in Venice in late September of 2016. I flew into Venice, spent 2 days in Mestre (the city just outside Venice), then 3 days in the Dolomites, and we ended the trip back on the island of Venice before I flew back home to Texas.
In the Dolomites, we hiked up and around the mountains and took in the breath-taking views. Seeing the massive, rocky Dolomite mountain range with surrounding forests was a great change in scenery from the concrete buildings and sidewalks of Venice. I really really enjoyed these Italian mountains and there will be a separate post for the Dolomites as this one will focus on the city of Venice.
While in Venice, the City of Bridges, we did all of the touristy things. We walked through the alley ways, saw San Marco Square, went inside the Doge’s Palace, took a vaporetto to the small island of Burano (another separate post), and enjoyed a peaceful gondola ride. We ate our weight in pasta and cheese and drank our combined weights in wine. It was an incredible trip!! and I ended up enjoying Venice a lot more than I thought I would!
Venice is a city with winding cobblestone alleys, an excess of gondolas and water taxis, and some of the most delicious Italian cuisine around.
The city of Venice is incredibly unique. Venice is an island, but an island unlike any I have ever visited before. There are no cars in Venice, and the best ways to get around are on your own two feet or by boat. There are really no beaches either, so it was not like the caribbean islands that I know and love. Instead, this island is filled with cobblestone alleys, ancient intricate architecture, and hundreds of shops and restaurants. I really loved Venice!
Getting to Venice: There are a few options to get from mainland Mestre to the island of Venice. You can drive and park your car in the garage on the island; you can take a 10 minute train or a 30 minute bus; or you can take a boat ride to the island. We rode the train each time because it is the cheapest and quickest option with the most seats. If you choose to use the train station, make sure you validate your tickets! You can receive a massive fine if caught with an invalidated ticket. On the return back to the airport we took the bus, because it drops you off right in front of the airport arrival terminals. This is the easiest way to get back to the airport when you have luggage with you.
Getting around the City of Bridges
Gondolas- What trip to Venice would be complete without a romantic gondola ride in the Grand Canal?? Pro tip: go on a weekday around 5 PM (after the cruise ships have left); when the water is calm, the area is peaceful, and the canals are not crowded. Also, do not start your gondola ride near San Marco Square. If you start here, your romantic gondola ride will likely be flanked by at least 5 other gondolas… making it not so romantic. Instead go wander down a cobblestone alley for a little ways, cross over a beautiful bridge and find a random Gondola spot off the side of a bridge and choose that guy, it will be worth it!
Vaporettos- This is the easiest and least expensive way to get around the different islands of Venice. I suggest getting an all day pass if you plan on going to multiple stops in order to save money. I also recommend getting your ticket prior to boarding. And remember to validate your ticket before boarding!! If you do not have a validated ticket, you can receive a massive fine.
Water Taxis- You can also take a water taxi to your destination on Venice, but be prepared to pay over 10X more than a ticket for the vaporetto. However, a water taxi is the easiest way to get yo your hotel if you are carrying your luggage. Our driver rocked a pretty sweet man bun that you can see below.
Walk- Use the easiest transportation that is always available to you! Your feet! Walk around without a map and just take in the beauty of the city. You will not regret getting lost in Venice ♥
Things to do in Venice
Get lost in the alleyways– Since Venice is strictly walking and boating friendly, getting lost while walking down the alley ways and across the many bridges (420 to be exact) is just another part of the experience! Allow yourself to wander without a map and take in the unique beauty of this city.
Eat pizza- I had heard someone complain about Italian pizza and that it was not even half as good as what we get in the states… And let me tell you- that is 100% WRONG. Pizza in Italy is incredibly delicious and I recommend you eat at least 1 pizza per day. Bonus points if you eat two per day 🙂
Island of Burano- I was told about Burano from one of my favorite Facebook groups, Girls Love Travel, and I loved it!! To get to Burano: take a vaporetto from Venice. Burano is a small island filled with colorful houses with a quiet, quaint vibe. Burano is most well known for their lace. and I got a beautiful teal lace scarf here!
Or go to the Island of Murano- This is another island you can visit on a vaporetto day trip. Murano is most well known for their glass blowing work. Here you can find some epic glass jewelry and dishes.
Looking for a fancy final feast in Venezia? Go eat at Al Covo– This is a seafood focused restaurant owned by a Lubbock Texas native and a local Venetian couple who met on the island and fell in love. I highly suggest splurging and getting the Chef’s Tasting meal, a 6 course meal that will blow your mind. Each course was seafood focused and holy shit delicious. and I think this might have been the best meal of my life thus far… It was holy moly delicious.
Visit Doges Palace or one of the other many museums around- This city is definitely not lacking art, history, or architechture. Go to a museum, the Doge’s Palace, or into one of the many churches and just gawk at the beauty around. There are museum and church passes that can be purchased in advance and will save you some monies.
A Staircase of Books- There is a book store called Libreria Acqua Alta, where a staircase of books leads you up to views of the canal below. The organization in this bookstore is hilarious. It is just books on books on books, with no sign of actual rhyme or order. Below are some pictures of this book store.
I always like to visit a museum or a palace or a castle when I travel. The Doge’s Palace is a palace built in Venetian Gothic style, and one of the main landmarks of the city of Venice. And this palace is beautiful!! With some of the most intricate ceiling paintings, one of the biggest armories, and my first time seeing an astrology clock this palace was jaw dropping!
Gun in the armory
Tips for traveling in Italy
Learn some of the language! This effort will help you drastically. Also, download the app, Google Translate. This app will help translate languages even without wifi and in multiple ways! I highly recommend it.
If you are a water drinker, specify whether you want ‘gas’ or ‘no gas’ water. AKA, do you want sparkling water or still water for drinking? I personally think it is absolutely ridiculous to make water carbonated… but that’s just me, so we always specify ‘no gas’ or ‘still’ water.
Before sitting at a restaurant, check to see if there is an included service charge or a sitting fee for your meal. The fees can seriously be exponential… think 80+ Euros for two coffees and a croissant in San Marco Square. When you do find a place to eat, check the bill thoroughly to see if there is a service charge already in place before you tip the waiter/waitress. Sometimes there will be a 2-7 Euro per person service charge AND a 12% gratuity already on the bill. So just be aware!
Make sure you have 1 & 2 Euro coins to use in bathrooms. You will be hard pressed to find a free toilet in Europe. Most bathrooms cost 1-2 Euros per person (coins only!), and they have toilet paper. (Once you travel to a destination where you have to bring your own toilet paper, you will learn that this is a luxury and it is smart to always bring your own just in case.)
Below is where we boarded our gondola
The Grand Canal at dusk
A ceiling in the Doge’s Palace
Gondolas going under the Bridge of Sighs
Below, I was doing a handstand and people in the gondola started taking pictures of me
Italy was my 35th country!!
My entire list is here ♥ This is just what we did here, and there is obviously so much more to do in Venice, but these were my particular highlights during our first two days here. After exploring Venice these two days, we drove up to the mountains and hiked!!
Next post is all about the Dolomites!
Onward and upward,