Visiting Venice for the first time, you cannot help but admire the ingenuity of the men who built it. How can such a city exist? It stands on nothing more than marshes and wood piles! But such a city does exist. It has withstood the centuries, only it seems, for our eyes to marvel at its splendors.
So much has been said about Venice, and yet, no words can truly encompass how magnificent and unique this city is.
If you read a lot, nothing is as great as you’ve imagined. Venice is. Venice is better. – Fran Lebowitz
As I was flying to Venice, I saw the water progressively taking over the land. Small patches of green and orange in an ocean of blue appeared here and there. Suddenly, there it was, La Serenissima! The vibrant ocher roofs stood out against the water. Its numerous campaniles looked like a sea of masts. Venice is so dense that it seems to be sailing on the water. I hadn’t set foot in the city yet, but I was already in love.
As I was leaving the airport on a waterbus (vaporetto), I noticed how the smell of the Adriatic Sea was strong and delightful. Each building and small island I was passing by seemed magical and unreal, like pieces of a theater set.
Reaching the historical center, I was welcomed with the liveliness of the city: the melody of the Italian language, the exclamations of the tourists in awe, the sounds of the vaporetti coming and going, and the gondolier’s gentle shouting. Venice’s soundtrack is unique and never interrupted by the sound of cars since the only way to get around is on water or on foot.
Leaving behind the Grand Canal, I entered the heart of Venice by its narrow alleyways (calli). To my surprise, the buzzing sounds of the city completely disappeared. I was left only with the murmur of water. Once in a while, I could hear a gondolier shout in a deep voice “ohaaay” as he was about to round a corner. I was surrounded by tall facades made of bricks and some even made of marble. Every few steps, I stopped and looked in awe at my surroundings: houses painted in vibrant colors, carefully carved sculptures, countless bridges, centuries-old churches and palaces, and everywhere, the deep blue-green of the water.
Venice is a masterpiece.
It’s also a labyrinth.
Even though I planned carefully my way around the city, I always ended up somewhere totally random. The harder I tried to follow my itinerary, the more I diverted from it. When I finally surrendered, I realized that the city was guiding me towards its most secret and seclude wonders.
Getting lost in Venice’s alleyways and dead-ends is inevitable, but rewarding. It changed my way of traveling and made me more open to the unexpected. Since then, getting lost is no more a problem to be solved. It’s a gateway to endless discoveries.
- By plane: The closest airport is Marco Polo Airport. From there, you can take a bus to the Piazzale Roma (ACTV lines, 6€, 20 minutes trip) or a ferry (Alilaguna ferry, 15€, around 60 minutes to reach San Marco) or a water taxi. Water taxis are faster than the ferry but more expensive. A trip from the airport to the historical center is about $80.
- By train: Venice is served by the Venezia Santa Lucia train station. From there, you can walk to your destination or take a vaporetto or a water taxi.
- By bus: You can take a bus from Mestre to Piazzale Roma (2.50€)
When to Go
- In summer, Venice is crowded with tourists and can be very hot. Still, it is a mesmerizing experience.
- Winter months can be cold and you may have to walk with rain boots, but you will have the city more to yourself, and your housing will be cheaper.
- Temperature is milder during Spring and Fall, and there is less tourists than in Summer.
Not to Be Missed
- Architectural splendors: Doge’s Palace, San Marco Basilica, and almost every palaces you cross on your path.
- Places to relax: Campo San Polo, Campo Santa Margherita, Campo Santo Stefano, Campo Santa Maria Formosa.
- Places to wonder: San Marco Square, bell tower of San Marco, Grand Canal, Zattere (a walk along the Giudecca canal), the Rialto Bridge and Market, the Bridge of Sighs.
- Islands: Murano (Italy’s main glass-making center since late 13th century), Torcello (the first island to be populated and home of 11th and 12th century churches).
Pizza: Even the pizza of the smallest street stand is delicious! Do like me and try as many as you can! ;)
There is one vegetarian deli and one vegetarian cafe in Venice (but many veg-friendly restaurants): Le Spighe and Caffe Orientale Tearoom. Le Spighe has a seasonal menu which focus on Italian and Venetian dishes, while the tea room serves mainly some soups and salads.
Both are vegan-friendly.
The historical center of Venice is composed of 6 sestieri (districts), made up of 118 islands, separated by 177 canals and connected by 409 bridges.
Even the smallest building in Venice contains of the world’s greatest artists such as Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese and others (source: Unesco).
Venice has many nicknames: “La Dominante”, “La Serenissima”, “Queen of the Adriatic”, “City of Water”, “City of Masks”, “City of Bridges”, “The Floating City”, and “City of Canals (source: Wikipedia).
Some famous Venetians: explorer Marco Polo, printer Aldus Manutius, painter Titian, composer Antonio Vivaldi, writer and womanizer Giacomo Casanova.
What about you? I’d love to hear your story!
Have you ever been to Venice or do you dream about visiting this city?
The comments area is all yours, and I can’t wait to hear from you!
Lots of travels and love
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