I recently spent a day in Venice, a place I had visited twice as a child but remember little of (except feeding the pigeons in St Marks Square).
I’m very glad I took the opportunity to go back. Venice is beautiful and my visit coincided with glorious weather.
I took the ferry from Punta Sabbioni which took about 35 minutes and was a nice smooth ride.
The ferry docks at San Marco and after a short walk along the river front and over some bridges; I found myself in St Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco).
I exited the square through the clock tower into the warren of narrow back streets lined with shops selling clothes, antiques, tourist memorabilia and authentic carnival masks which vastly ranged in price. The masks are a big part of the Venetian experience due to the masquerade ball held as part of the Carnival of Venice.
The narrow roads all seem to open out into a larger area containing a church. Then there are the many bridges you have to cross, all seemingly alike.
I walked for what felt like miles before I came across the most famous bridge of them all. The Rialto Bridge has small shops going up the steps in the middle of it with steps either side for people who just want to walk over. At the half way point is a crossing through the middle of the bridge allowing you to view both sides.
I found the prices fairly reasonable for food and drink. The average pizza was €9.00 compared to €7.00 where I was staying about an hour outside of Venice. Small bottles of cold water were €1.50 to €2.00 and litre bottles around €3.00. You could buy a pint-sized plastic cup filled with fresh fruit for €2.00. I took a sandwich with me expecting it to be expensive but was pleasantly surprised. There are food counters and restaurants all around so if you are looking for a meal or a snack price a couple up before deciding where to eat.
I decided as it was such lovely weather to have a special treat and went to Harry’s Bar, home of the Bellini. At €18.50 a glass it wasn’t cheap but I took the chance to sit out of the sun in the same booths as the rich and famous, although no-one famous was there at the time.
I had never been on a Gondola ride so this time I decided I would tick it off the list. For €80 I had a 25 minute ride around the back alley canals. As a child I remember the Gondoliers singing as they punted people around but that maybe a mixture of time and TV adverts as I didn’t hear any singing this time, much to my disappointment. The length of the Gondola ride is dependent on the price you pay and the time of day, avoid the early mornings and end of working day as people use the canals to get to and from work and you could find yourself in a M25 like traffic jam.
Our Gondolier told me that evening they were holding races along the canal for participants in the Gondola races that were being held that Sunday on one of the Islands. Unfortunately I didn’t stay to see the time trials but it is definitely something I would look into before booking another trip. I was told that the Gondolier have various races from 1 to 5 people in one Gondola and I imagine it to be a very special experience.
The lady in the Tourist Information booth in Punta Sabbioni (a good place to stop for cheap maps and tourist guides if you are in the area) was very complimentary about Torcello and recommended a visit to the church.
There are still so many parts of Venice that I haven’t explored and I didn’t visit many of the tourist attractions, mainly walked the back streets so I will definitely have plenty to see the next time I go back. If you want to go inside any of the attractions be prepared to wait in line as some of the queues were quite long. I think most of the attractions have entrance fees so probably best to pick a couple at the most.
If you haven’t been before I definitely recommend a visit and warn you it’s not somewhere you will only want to visit once!