As presents go, I had to go big for Megan’s 30th birthday, so I got her a long weekend away in Venice. She has always wanted to go, however I have been less enthusiastic as its never really appealed to me. I put it down to growing up with a very patriotic Italian! Anyhow I always like to explore new places, and gain new experiences so a part of me was excited.
As always, Megan was right, Venice is AMAZING!
We spent three nights at the Hotel ai Mori d’Oriente, which I have to say was a brilliant choice. Located in the quiet residential area of Cannaregio, the hotel was part of the old Jewish Ghetto, and lives up to its four star rating. Granted it was a good 10-15 minute walk to the tourist spots, but just screamed authentic… I highly recommend it!
We visited the main attractions on Friday and were blessed with clear blue skies and temperatures ranging from 17-22 degrees centigrade (not bad for November). What was also a surprise was how quiet it was, St Marks Square, the Basilica, the Panorama and the Rialto Bridge were easily visited within a couple of hours. All of these historical sites were really incredible to see, but really the highlight were the streets themselves.
It’s possible to get lost for hours meandering around the small windy lanes, it’s truly a wanderers paradise… One minute we were surrounded by shops and eateries, the next ancient walls, quiet small canals and hanging washing. Its like nowhere I have ever visited before. The lanes captivated me, and I became completely engrossed in the photographing everything, from the canals, to the buildings, the locals to the pigeons. Another captivating aspect was the contrasting bridges, some were grand and architecturally significant but it was the smaller sometimes private bridges that I really appreciated. The bridges were by far the best places to photograph other bridges further down the canals, and you can usually see at least 2 from each bridge. I also loved when a bridge just appeared out of nowhere… Brilliant!
What we also found, wandering around the maze of streets, was that usually if we wanted to get to a specific location – it was easy enough to find. The city is not actually that big! It’s just when you decide to turn into a backstreet somewhere that it gets interesting.
So apart from the wandering, my next favorite part of Venice was definitely the food! Everything from the traditional Italian Pasta and Pizza to Venetian sea food, crepes and of course gelato.. A friend of ours said to eat lots and often – and that is exactly what we did! One of our favorite areas to eat was across the Rialto Bridge in San Polo and around the market area.
When in Venice it would be a sin not to get on the water, so we bought a day pass for 15 Euros each which took us to Lido (the beach), Murano (to witness the Glass industry) and a trip up the much documented Grand Canal. A complete ‘must do’ of all first time experiences of Venice, its such an easy way to see so much of the highlights. An alternative is to step into the big tourist trap of a Gondola… but at 80 Euros for 30 minutes this is a real treat, and in my opinion is way too expensive to be used as a real mode of transport! We did it and thoroughly enjoyed it – although Megan wouldn’t let me sing to her!
My recommendations would be:
- Wandering! in both San Polo and Castello.
- Arte della pizza in Cannaregio
- Venician street food including Aqua @ Mais in San Polo
- Castello Sea Food – the Seafood pasta was amazing!
- The Water Taxi to Lido and Murano
- The Artisan crepes of Cocaeta in North Cannaregio
All in all I would throughly recommend experiencing the true beauty of Venice to everyone – It really was a Wandering Memory I will keep with me for a long time! Truly remarkable place…
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