Venice, Italy (stats courtesy Wikipedia):
Pop Total (2014): 264,579
Area Total: 414.57 km2 (160.07 sq mi)
Density: 640/km2 (1,700/sq mi)
Elevation: 1 m (3 ft)
Weather: Brisk winters, warm/hot summers
Warm Season: May – Oct
Currency: Euro, credit card friendly
Language: Italian, good English in most places
What’s so special?
Often referred to as “a floating masterpiece.” It is difficult to describe how Venice makes you feel. So popular in the movies, it is familiar, even if it’s your first visit. While she is not snobby or arrogant, she says like me as I am, or go away. The depth of culture and history could occupy a person for years, not to mention the exquisite architecture. You can really feel history all around you, everywhere you go here. And fine dining, whoa, the simple travelin’ man almost went hungry due to all the fancy restaurants!
When I said that Ljubljana was an easy town because there weren’t so many famous things to see that you felt you had to hurry around to get to them all, well that doesn’t hold true for Venice. You could spend a week in here and still only have scratched the surface on sight seeing. Nonetheless, we paced ourselves and tried to take it easy while still taking in some spectacular sights.
We were there in early May and hit the jackpot with the weather. It was very warm, but not uncomfortably so, and it only rained a couple of times, but didn’t last long and wasn’t very hard. We were there for two and a half days (three nights).
We did a lot of walking here. Well, everyone does since there are no cars, haha. We found it easy to navigate around, and believe it or not, a compass actually comes in handy here. Check the map before you head out and use the sun or a compass to go in the general direction you need, and you will get where you need to be.
The Rialto Bridge
You’ll definitely be seeing the Rialto bridge. It’s one of the main bridges to get across the Grand Canal. It’s also the oldest one (there are four total). When you stand on that bridge overlooking the canal, after the selfies, you just can’t help but think of how many people have crossed since it was constructed in 1591. Think of all the gondolas that have gone under that bridge. Let your mind slip back in time and picture what it must have been like all those hundreds of years ago. And here you stand over four hundred years later. Given how they say the whole city is slowly sinking, it’s likely the bridge won’t be accessible four hundred years from now. Think about that while you’re standing there. I have these time warp flashbacks all over this city.
Saint Mark’s Square
You’ll want to read up on your Venice history before getting the significance of Saint Mark’s Square. There’s a lot to see and take in here. The artwork carved into the buildings, the Saint Mark’s Basilica, the clock tower, even the famous horses of Saint Mark. Although the ones atop the Basilica are replicas, the real ones are inside.
We also did the tour of the Palace there. Don’t be intimidated by the line, it moves pretty well. This wasn’t what I expected in a palace tour, but only because I didn’t read up on it first. This was not a palace where royalty lived and occupied. It was strictly for business. And I will say, by the time we left there, I understood a lot more about their history and evolution of their government.
You want to talk about fresh seafood? Yeah? Well we stumbled across this open market. I’ve never really seen anything like this before. And checkout the swordfish. You ask for a swordfish steak and they literally hack it off for you right there while you wait. And I even saw one of the eels trying to slither away! How’s that for fresh?
The Islands around the Island
There are dozens of other islands in the area around Venice. There are boats that circulate between them. Sort of like a hop on hop off but for boats. We used this service and went to three of the larger islands north of Venice: Murano, Burano, and Torcello. They each have their own stories to tell and their own charm and beauty to share, as well as shops and restaurants. I definitely recommend doing these.
We stayed at a lovely Bed and Breakfast called Ponte Chiodo. We arrived from the airport via boat, and this place was easy to find from the landing dock. Our host was extremely helpful and very friendly. When we first arrived, he sat down with us and reviewed the map of the area, pointing out things for us to do and recommending several restaurants and bars in the area. You can never go wrong getting info like this from a local.
As you can imagine, being Venice, this was a historic house. It was very romantic, well cared for, and very clean. The room and bathroom were quite spacious. There was a covered sitting area where breakfast was served. It’s surrounded by the well kept and beautiful grounds. We brought a bottle wine down one evening and just chilled out sitting there. I would definitely stay here again. We were on the third floor, and the stairs were very narrow and steep, so make sure you’re up to the task of man handling your luggage.
I know I may have exaggerated at the opening when I said Simple Man went hungry in Venice. Well, that was just for effect, haha. Truth be told, most of the places in Venice are way over the top fancy, but even though they’re on an island, surrounded by seafood, there was plenty of beef and other options to satisfy even the simplist palate (mine). All three of the dinner restaurants we went to were at the recommendation of our host, and they all rocked. I’m not going to discuss venues or prices here, because they were all quite fancy and a little on the pricey side, but well worth it. We also booked in advance for all of them. All three were of the finest quality and all three are highly recommended.
Antica Adelaide: Very small but nice restaurant literally less than five minutes from where we were staying. And as you can see below, Jana with the fancy, me with the good stuff. She got the cuttle fish in the black sauce. Mine was fantastic! Who would have thought I would be eating ribs and sausage in such a fancy place? It was excellent.
Nono Risorto Pizza: This was probably the cheaper of the three places we went, and yes we got pizza. I mean come on, we’re in Italy! Very nice atmosphere, we sat outside in their own private courtyard at a quiet table for two. There was special dim lighting that added to the effect. It was very romantic. Lots of other traditional Italian selections on the menu. I didn’t post a picture. Just close your eyes and imagine pizza with round salami slices on it – you got it. But I could have posted a picture of the extremely cozy outdoor setting. Bad JC.
Cà D’Oro alla Vedova: This was an easy walk from where we were staying. It was raining on the evening we were there, but this place made us feel nice and cozy. A quiet table against the wall, and a bottle of of an Italian red valpolicello. As you can see below, Jana is definitely not afraid of the fancy stuff. Hers was the well presented scallops and vegetable lasagna. But check out my beef strips, they were very delicious. And I didn’t share.